I'm feeling a bit flat at present, for a number of reasons. Work is quite busy with two partners away, I've had a cold for the past two days and am still feeling a bit “viral”, and our youngest child is about to fly the nest. To be honest I'm also a bit bored with the job, which consists of a long stream of easy and tedious things interspersed with a smaller number of stressful and difficult ones. The days are long and unpredictable: I may be free for a short while during the day or finish reasonably early, but I probably won't. General practice in the UK seems to be heading for choppy waters, which is not where I want to spend the last decade of my working life. So I'm thinking quite hard about my future.
There was one bright spot in this evening's surgery when I saw a patient I really like. She is a kind, unassuming woman who I suppose might be labelled as “lower middle class”. I have been able to help her through a number of interesting medical adventures and she has grown in confidence over the years although she remains very slightly anxious beneath the surface. She adopted a son a year or so ago, and has done a brilliant job of calming and reassuring him and providing a loving home. She brought him to see me this evening and it was clear from the way he interacted with her that there were strong bonds of affection and trust. As well as his main problem, she mentioned two minor problems that were sorting themselves out. He had developed a blister on his foot after wearing his wellies for too long on a day out, and had a minor injury to a finger which he had accidentally caught in the car door. His mother is perfectly competent and didn't really need to seek my advice, but I think she was informing me to forestall any criticism of the way she was looking after him. She looked slightly embarrassed, and said “I'm the worst mother in the whole world”. I was convinced that these were the minor scrapes that can happen in any family, and spoke in a reassuring tone. “You are the worst mother in the world” I agreed, “apart from all the others”. She knew what I meant, for we go back a long way.
I felt that of all the people in all the world, I was the one best placed to reassure her. Anyone could have done it but I did it best, and it did my heart good. But this was not an “It's A Wonderful Life” moment, where the hero suddenly realises how much good he has done and everything is transformed. I still feel flat and unenthusiastic, but I am at least appreciative of the good moments when they come.