Although by nature a little pessimistic (since that sky is bound to fall on my head one day), I am allowing myself to feel cautiously happy at present. Yesterday we received a thank-you card at the practice addressed to me, one of the other partners, and Peter - our ever-patient and helpful office manager. It was from a rather anxious young woman expecting her second child. Recently I diagnosed Fifth Disease in her young son and she had been worried that it might affect her pregnancy. It is true that this viral infection (erythrovirus B19), though usually trivial, can cause serious problems in pregnancy including the death of the fetus in 10% of cases. However infection is uncommon in pregnancy, probably because most women have had the virus as a child and so are immune to it. We arranged for her serology to be tested, and this duly showed that she had IgG antibodies to the virus (indicating past infection and hence immunity) and no IgM antibody (which would have indicated recent infection). It was Peter who kept in touch with her while these tests were carried out, and his helpfulness and reassurance (based on my advice) were clearly appreciated.
Looking back over the past week, I have felt generally happier at work. Partly this is due to the effect of my holiday, but I have also managed to cut some unnecessary flab from my consultations, to home in on the essential points, and hence to shorten them and keep more to time. When all goes well this produces a "virtuous circle": as patients are more likely to accept a shorter consultation when they have not been kept waiting, and I feel more in control of my workload. I have been an unhappy bunny for many years, and I think I deserve a little happiness at work. Having a happy doctor should be better for my patients, too.
And this afternoon I have got out into the sunshine and mowed the lawn. Our hold on happiness is so tenuous. At any moment we or a loved one could suffer an accident or serious illness, or some other disaster could bring our lives crashing down around us. But of all the myriad disasters that could have occurred in my life, very few have as yet. We should count our blessings, whether they are of divine origin or nothing but the merest accident. And cherish them even more because of their fragility and transience.
That's quite enough cod philosophy for one posting, I think!