I had a patient in residency, let's call her Jennifer, who I didn't peg as a crier. She was my age and in business school. People in B-school don't cry, right? She seemed very business-like about her back pain. But when the attending asked Jennifer about her use of medications, she burst into tears.
Jennifer: "I've been taking Voltaren for pain and I need it. But I don't want to need it."
The attending handed her the box of tissues and she calmed down pretty quickly. After he left the room she apologized to me.
"I'm so embarrassed," Jennifer said. "I can't believe I started crying."
"Really, don't worry about it," I told her.
"I don't even know why I started crying," she said.
I shrugged. "It's really common. Believe me, as a doctor, I see it all the time."
"Yeah, you're not even the first person today. It's really really common."
I handed Jennifer the prescription I wrote for Mobic. She looked troubled when I handed it to her, and I said to her: "Look, this isn't even a narcotic. Voltaren and Mobic are just like Motrin, only a little stronger."
"Really??" She had no idea. I guess Voltaren sounds like a really powerful medication. (Voltaren: Defender of the Universe) "That actually makes me feel a lot better."
It's almost sweet that she was worried about taking a couple of NSAIDs when we have people popping Vicodin like they're tic tacs.