There are no grand themes in this blog at present. Things are a bit busy and I haven't had the time to reflect and develop themes during the day. But I have made these random jottings about a few things that caught my interest.
Today was the start of our second week with two doctors down (one on holiday, the other on sick leave). A little common adversity can be good for morale and team cohesion, but you can have too much of a good thing. Martha came in again to help out which was expected but nevertheless generous. We have a locum booked to cover the sick leave, who will be starting next week.
I started the day on the wrong foot: late arriving in surgery, a huge list of patients to be seen, and an “extra” patient who had to be seen at the start of surgery because he was so ill. Well, fortunately he wasn't. He was a baby of two months who had been vomiting and wheezing, although in fact he had simply been “posseting” (and not wheezing as far as I could tell). Babies often regurgitate their milk because they don't produce stomach acid, so the milk tastes just as nice the second time around. After they have done it once or twice accidentally, many babies get into the habit and do it on purpose - much to the distress of their parents.
Doctors and mothers can usually tell very quickly whether a baby is ill, and this one was not. He looked at me and smiled at me and played with me, and was just a delight to handle. As I've said before, I simply love babies. This close encounter with another one of God's creatures, still trailing clouds of glory, set me up for the day. I don't usually think religious thoughts, particularly at work, but I took this as a sign that the day would be alright and that I was meant to be where I was. And so it turned out to be. I was able to cope with everything that came my way, and didn't get bogged down in imponderables and misery.
I have mentioned patients who drink water during consultations before, but I am increasingly convinced that it is a sign of neuroticism. Today I saw a patient who has had many stressful events in her life and came to tell me some more about her tension headaches. Her bottle of water was sometimes on her lap, sometimes resting on my desk and sometimes cradled in her hands. As the consultation reached its climax and the Oracle dispensed its wisdom (Brown said what he thought should be done) she flipped open the top and took a hefty swig. You can't be too careful - it's thirsty work talking to the doctor, and dehydration threatens us at every turn.
One of my patients this evening told me she had taken some Piriton (chlorpheniramine) to treat her allergic reaction to an insect bite. But she had come to ask for an alternative treatment, because it made her “thick as custard”. I loved this phrase, which I hadn't heard before. I had to tell her that Piriton had had exactly the same effect on me many years ago: I couldn't think straight and could hardly get words out in a sensible order. The patients probably didn't notice any difference. She laughed politely at my joke.
I was also struck by how “on the ball” another patient was, immediately grasping everything I said and responding in a particularly intelligent and witty manner. I told her so, and asked what she did. It turns out that she is a customer relations officer and is constantly dealing with journalists. It sounds as though she is good at her job.