Communication – Why are Doctors so Vague at times?

Car RepairI took my car into the mechanic to get my brakes fixed recently. While I was there, I thought why not see how’s she’s doing overall? I asked the mechanic if he could do an engine check up – he looked at me as though I had sprouted horns. “There’s no such thing” he said.

Now I don’t know much about cars, but I do know that before a long trip you are supposed to check fluids, tire pressure… I admitted this to my mechanic and we agreed on an oil change with fluid check.

What I really wanted was a once over of the car to see if there was any sign of wear and tear or evidence of damage to a system. This is not really possible – someone can look at the engine and say “it looks great!” but that doesn’t tell me anything that I really want to know. I think this is what was going on in my mechanic’s head at the time – shuffling through the things he tests and repairs while wondering how much to explain before coming up with the simplest response.


Sometimes I feel the same way when asked a question – I don’t always know how to answer it because I may not have thought about the issue that way before or because the question asked isn’t really what the person wants to know.


What can seem to be a fairly direct question – “Why is my bird limping?” – just isn’t.
We have to think of all possible causes and compare that to the physical exam and history to narrow the list. A short list of things that can cause limping include; trauma, broken bones, joint problems, muscle damage, nerve damage, problems with circulation… In birds, as opposed to mammals, we have to consider their unique anatomy and bring in kidney problems or issues with eggs. Is there an infection; could there be a tumor/cancer/neoplasia or a problem with one of the internal organs?

It’s not usually helpful to spout out all the differentials (possible causes) – that would be overwhelming and a little annoying. What we try to do is whittle down that list to the most reasonable and move into how to prove or disprove each option.

man-111321_640Sometimes we get stuck in a rut – just like you. So if you’re not quite getting the answer you want,
just try asking in a different way  🙂


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