Every morning when I get my roster I look it over to see if I have any problematic patients.  This is not a custom particular to me; all doctors do it. Doctors often don’t see patients in terms of diagnosis or conditions. They see them as types.

“Blanks” – these names evoke no emotions. I recognize the names, but there is no immediate recall as to who they are/ why they are here. This is usually a ‘good sign’ viz. “Blanks” are not problematic.

“Zorgenkinder” are the sad sorts. They are so not so much what is wrong or bad in their lives, but a gloomy pessimism is their forte. Medieval doctors would call them “Saturnine” or say they have too much black bile. If you ever heard Noel Coward’s “There are bad times just around the corner.” you know what I mean by Zorgenkinder.

“Squirrels” – Folks with active ADHD or mania or eccentricities often come in bouncing. “My mother has a saxaphone but two keys are broken and once I fell on my head and I had three stitches right here but my husband cut himself while shaving today…”  They are usually pleasant but they can be exhausting to follow or keep in the chair.

“Hand Holders” – This sort of patient can be positive or negative. The positive ones like to come in regularly although they are well. The like to ‘check in’. I ask what is news/how they are doing. I may give them some bit of advice and encouragement. There will always be a powerful healing force of figuratively holding another’ hand.

The negative HH comes in regularly to complain or spew their grief. I either can’t or shouldn’t try to ‘fix’ them; my job is to reflect back their affect and give some sort of ‘that’s too bad’ feedback. They don’t improve but they are stable.  I’ve learned the hard way some people can’t or do not want to be better.

“Drama Queens” (of either sex).  ‘Nuff said. You all know these sorts.

“Snerts” – These patients are fine really, but I have to see them from time to time. They come in as I ask them to do so, every 4-6 months. Within seconds I can tell they are still fine.  I go through my routine questions; they reply all is well. Nothing is on their mind. I try to expand the appointment so it won’t last literally a minute.  After I conclude they are still Snert, they go away for another long interim.

Last week, a patient came in and said “Yes, I am still a Snert, can I go now?”.