Ok, here’s a funny work story. At least I thought it was funny. The patient absolutely did not.
One of my prostate cancer patients called yesterday. I was in a clinic, so I wasn’t answering my phone, but there were three voice mails from him in the space of half an hour, asking me to call him back. So I did, figuring he was in some sort of health crisis.
He asked if I knew of the magazine available for prostate cancer survivors. It’s a peer support journal, written by and for survivors, providing information on treatments and groups and issues of concern to prostate cancer patients, like continence and potence and things. I said I didn’t know of the magazine specifically but was aware there were such resources available. Well, he told me, he had picked up a copy while at the clinic for an appointment, and saw an ad for a free subscription, with a toll-free number to call if you wanted to subscribe. He called. Then he called me. He refused to tell me what it was, but said he was disgusted and shocked, and gave me the number to call. He said he had the number of the newspaper in his hand and if we didn’t do something about it, he was going to call them, too. I promised to call it and call him back. I tried the number.
It was a phone sex line. “Hey, big guy. Are you interested in hot love with some wild pierced babes?” a sultry voice purred in my ear. I hung up. I didn’t bother trying to stifle my giggles.
Needless to say, the magazines have been pulled from our waiting rooms. Interestingly, his copy must have been an old one, because the number had been changed sometime in 2003, and more recent issues had a correct number for subscribers. I don’t know if the magazine made a typo, or if the number has since been reassigned, but the net result was that my prostate cancer patients are being propositioned when what they want is support.
Many comments flew around the clinic. Perhaps the punchline is that most prostate cancer patients, at least those on hormone treatments, are impotent, so it’s not like our phone-sex goddess is preaching to the choir. And I’m not sure calling the paper would have the effect he desired, either; I can see it being spun into a jokey little sidebar piece, and the national organization suffering some mild embarassment, after a brief PR crisis. I can’t see our funding being yanked or anything.
It’s one of those situations that you have to laugh at. This poor guy wasn’t laughing, though. Oh, well, his loss. I thought it was hilarious. Well, where I work, we take the laughs where we can get them. Some days they are few and far between.