Wednesday, 19 September 2007

A bad mother

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.


A. said...

Oh dear, I do sympathise. I am feeling somewhat similar but, thanks to a reorganisation, there don't seem to be any easy or tedious things to do. The powers that be want one thing, a certain element are being actively destructive, the rest are stressed, and I'm piggy in the middle trying to keep everyone able to do their jobs.

I, however, am giving in my notice on 1 October and, ridiculously, I'm dreading it. It's going to invoke unwanted attention from on high.

I'm glad you do at least have some high spots. Think carefully about the future (I'm sure you have) before taking any leaps. I've seen my husband regret early retirement, but he was so very keen to leave what he was doing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you are feeling at bit low at the moment.
Reading between the lines of your recent blogs, you do seem to want a change in life.
Have you thought about only working a few days a week,(I am sure you have) so that you can have more time for your other activities. Especially, the recent one you enjoyed so much.
My father retired early and I know regretted it and steadily went down hill, before he died at 58. However, do think very carefully, before you take any drastic steps.
You seem a wonderful, caring honest doctor and there doesn't seem many of them left these days. I sure everyone who knows you would agree.

Elaine said...

I am so sorry to read this Dr Brown, althought it may be that you are feeling down as a consequence of your viral infection. Certainly you should think very long and hard about early retirement, it might be invigorating, but also it might leave you feeling at too much of a loose end.

It would seem to me that you are too young to go out to grass, and the suggestion of part time ws a good one. If you really feel you have to go, locum work could prove attractive (or else it might make you regret the decision to retire!)

Anonymous said...

I do wish you were my GP Dr Brown. That's all I have to say on the matter.
Best wishes

The Shrink said...

The British psychotherapist Donald Winnicott spoke of being a "good enough mother".

He also meant is as, "a basic model for the therapist's healthy attitude towards the patient."

Not paternalistic/didactic health care, but instead a model of displaying, "all the patience and tolerance and reliability of a mother devoted to her infant."

So, Dr Brown, happen it's you being a "good enough mother" too!

cogidubnus said...

"I am getting quite fond of you, dear readers" sez he...yes but clearly not enough...(asserts he, assuming Doc B has gone off on yet another hol...)

Calavera said...

Aww, that's really sweet. It must have meant a lot coming from yourself, too, as she has seen you over such a long period of time and she knows that you've come to know her quite well.

Sorry to hear that you're a bit under the weather. Maybe you should be the next one to take some time off and just relax for a while with your family.

It always works wonders for me...

Dr Andrew Brown said...

Thanks to you all for your kindness and your advice. I shall "think on" as they say in Yorkshire. I haven't been away on holiday unfortunately, but normal service is being resumed (I hope).