I struggled to get the burly 20-year-old construction worker to talk about his fatigue.
Was he sleeping okay? “Yep.”
How was his mood? “Fine.”
At this point the patient’s mother, sitting in the chair beside him, broke in. “What he’s trying to say,” the mother said, giving the patient a playful punch to the deltoid, “is that he …”
After that, the patient’s mother talked more than he did. She provided articulate descriptions of her son’s symptoms, occasionally interrupting him to do so.
“He hasn’t told you this,” the mother said at one point, “but on weekends he drinks a lot with his friends and … well … I wonder if that relates to what’s going on?”
I had wondered the same thing. Also, I needed to get the patient’s mother out of the room.
For more on how to support young adult autonomy and self-advocacy, check out my new article at the Washington Post.