The Good Patient

tunnel of light

For the tenth time in as many months, a medical professional has deemed me a Good Patient.

I’ve earned this title of honor–first and foremost–by having an unusual number of health problems for a person of my age. The typos in my genetic code, coupled with my accident-proneness and plain old-fashioned bad luck, make me a clear standout to doctors, who are used to dealing with patients twice my age with medical history files half as thick as mine.

As far as I am able to ascertain, the other qualities necessary to achieve Good Patient status are the ability to hold still, to fully understand and skillfully execute both ways of donning a hospital gown, to be able to sit alone in exam rooms for extended periods of time while being driven neither to the point of tears nor of tantrums, to successfully complete the tricky maneuver known as the handshake when the doctor finally enters the room, to maintain eye contact, nod as s/he speaks, and squeeze in a question or two when s/he pauses for a breath (but not three, or you risk drifting into Irritating Problem Patient territory).

If there are any other qualifications necessary to be labeled a Good Patient, medical professional translation technology is not yet advanced enough for us to understand them. The etiology of the Good Patient condition–and whether it is influenced by environmental, hereditary, or lifestyle factors–requires further study and testing to determine.

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