We love to complain that Medicine is a thankless job.
Often, we do awesome heroic things that look really cool like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or inserting chest-drains, or putting intra-osseous lines in neonates.
I've been thanked maybe a few times for doing those things. Not that I really expect it - it's my job after all. (also - after forcing a tube through one's rib cage I doubt anyone's going to be that motivated in gratitude!)
HOWEVER....I have noticed that in the quiet of the clinic room - 9 out of ten times I get a sweet, "Thank you, Doctor" as the patient walks out the door. I get thanked for the little things more often. Mostly I get thanked just for listening, even when I've really done very little in the way of physical exam or medical treatment.
This is very touching. Anyone can listen - one doesn't need to be a doctor to do that.
Sometimes the patients go as far as giving me presents. I try to refuse as much as possible but never win. My patients are very poor so the presents are not very big, and so often it's more harmful to refuse the gift of a few sweets or a plum than to accept and make the patient feel good for giving, when they already have so little to give.
Sometimes the gifts are slightly peculiar.
Here is a list of the gifts I've received as a med student and as a doctor in the community.
1: peanuts, sweets, chips and fruit. (usually given by the old ladies. I love gifts of food because it means I have something to snack on during the long day as I often don't get a break for lunch. I'm always suspicious of the peanuts though, especially if they're unsalted. My dad once told me a story about an old age home where it was discovered that the inhabitants would lick the salt off the peanuts and then put them back in the packet, as they couldn't eat them due to their false teeth! Now every time I see unsalted peanuts I think of old people's saliva.)
2: religious verses ( I've been given copies of bible psalms, prayer strings, quranic verses - the works. They all always say they'll pray for me. Thus I am so well-connected now in all spiritual realms nobody can fuck with me!)
3: phone numbers from male patients ( the young ones always try their luck. seriously inappropriate!)
4: phone numbers from grandmothers who want me for their grandsons ( Despite me telling them over and over again that I am taken, and happy with the man I have! I even had one granny bring her grandson with her one day, pushed him into my office and left the two of us there to .....?? Not sure what she wanted us to do. The poor dude was so mortified. Sorry dude - you weren't bad-looking, just not that into 17 year olds!)
5:narcotics. ( that's right, narcotics. When I was a 4th year medstudent doing my obs and gynae rotation, we were delivering babies in the labour ward one evening. This particular couple had lost two children and were really counting on this delivery to go smoothly. Which it did - we did very little as the baby basically delivered itself. The dad, a Rastafarian, was so thankful that he took us behind the hospital and gave us a bag of dagga. I can't really remember if we kept it or not....)
That was probably the most insane gift.
Here is a list of gifts I would like to get ( but would probably have to refuse ethically)
1: 300 million British pounds,
2: 400 million British pounds,
3: 500 million Britishpounds,
you're getting the picture right....
Here is a list of gifts I really really want the patients to give themselves.
1: Compliance in taking their medication EVERY DAY!
2: Healthy sugar free diets, especially if you are DIABETIC.
3: CONDOMS! they're FREE you promiscuous bunny!
4: Exercise for the obese patiens.
5: NOT SMOKING!
6: Not taking tik when you are psychotic.
7: Not drinking, and then stabbing your friend or family member.
8: Leaving that asshole wife-beating husband of yours.
Oh yes, and before I forget did I say thank you to the nurses? It's NURSES DAY today! Thank you you hardcore beautiful lovely ass-kicking wonderful caring nurses!!!! You guys are the best most useful gift I could ever ask for at work!