Later that morning I talked to an expectant mother of about 34 weeks gestation. I say "about" because there had been no prenatal care and mom wasn't sure of her dates. My partner had already talked to her a couple of hours previously, but her nurse asked me to see her again, saying she hadn't comprehended what my partner had said. I went to see her, but she kept falling asleep while I talked. After a few minutes I left, thinking she probably didn't comprehend much of what I said either.
Doctors are sometimes criticized for not talking to their patients enough. I know that criticism is often justified - I've experienced it myself as a patient - but I also know how hard it can be to talk to some patients, and how frustrating it can be when they don't pay attention or don't seem to care what you say. It seems to me that when you're discussing possible bleeding into your baby's brain and possible brain damage, you would most likely be listening closely. But the mother of the 24 weeker wasn't even close to paying attention. Maybe I'm more boring than I realize, but still - it's a pretty important topic. Also, I don't really blame the mother of the 34 weeker for falling asleep - it was morning , and she probably hadn't slept much that night - but that, too, was still a little frustrating. Am I being egotistical for expecting them to listen? I don't need to see rapt enthrallment on their face, but is polite attention too much to ask?
These situations actually occur pretty commonly, and I bet that other doctors would say the same. I'll keep trying to talk to patients and families, but do me a favor: if you're a patient, at least look like you care.