The Patient and the Chocolate

Having just spent the last 10 minutes giving my patient a very hard time about his increased girth and ongoing weight gain, I sighed, stood up and indicated that the visit was over. As I walked to the door he said “Just a minute Dr. Nieder. I have something for you”. He reached in his pocket and pulled, with just a little difficulty, a tin of Godiva chocolates out of it.

“Happy Easter Dr. Nieder.”

I was startled and a little speechless. I stammered a thank you, then reminded him that he needed to come back again in three months instead of the usual six because his numbers, both blood pressure and lab work, were starting to rise. I walked back to my office, sat the gift in the middle of my desk and contemplated it. He had to have known that I’d be frustrated that not only had he made no progress on his weight loss but had picked up a few pounds. It reminded me of an apple given to a teacher. A sweet thank you for my efforts. But I don’t feel deserving–I can’t find the right words to say to motivate him.

Perhaps that was what the gift was about–appreciation of my effort. In the end, he has to make the choices and changes, and I have to accept that he’s doing the best he can in his circumstances.

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