I have seen my oncologist for more than three years. She seems to care deeply about my well-being, she is never hasty, and she is keenly observant and exceptionally well trained and has many other fine qualities. But I am frustrated that she says very little during my appointments. I've had appointments that were scheduled to last one hour, and they last less than ten minutes! She routinely runs 30 minutes ahead of schedule by 11 am, so I think she is equally brief with other patients.
If I ask a question, she will respond in four words. If I press for details, she will respond with two words. If I raise a topic based on something I read in a medical journal (e.g., the possibility that not all tumors grow at a consistently exponential rate), she seems to never be interested in the premise of the article and shuts down the discussion immediately. She never tells me her findings after doing a physical exam except once when she exclaimed, "Your lungs sound better!" She now refuses to discuss my prognosis (in the past, she was certain I would be dead over a year ago). I really do need to know where I stand because I am on medical leave and soon must decide whether to quit my job.
I have read that an unusually high proportion of specialist attendings are somewhat autistic, and that might explain her robotic manner and inability to pick up on social cues, but of course I have no way of knowing. I have also read that some doctors withdraw emotionally to protect themselves when a patient is doing poorly (as I am, depending on your perspective). She was born and raised in another country, and there are possibly language issues, although she is quite fluent in basic English (I avoid American colloquial phrases, just in case they are difficult for her).
If anyone has suggestions for how to have more fruitful discussions, I would be happy to hear them. At this point, I wonder why I even bother going in every month, other than to get my lab work done.