Last week I mentioned a geriatrician who sent me what I thought was a rather peremptory and critical letter. I wrote a conciliatory letter back to him to explain my point of view. Rather late in life I have learned that if you want to influence people you must write gently persuasive words rather than an angry riposte. If I may paraphrase Edward Young slightly: “be wise with speed, a fool at fifty is a fool indeed”. I ended my letter by saying that I was particularly concerned to give the best care possible to my patient because I have known her (socially) for forty years. The geriatrician has now written back to me in a much gentler tone, and concludes “as you say one of the great sadnesses about being a doctor but particularly a GP or a geriatrician is to see people deteriorate as they age”. I certainly feel more warmly towards him than I did, and perhaps he will temper his remarks a little when writing clinic letters in future.
It is gratifying to find so many people reading this blog and making positive and encouraging comments. I am sorry that I cannot post more often than I do. It takes me a lot of time to think about events and set them down in a clear fashion. I don't get a lot of spare time, I have two other time-consuming hobbies which I pursue as best I can, and my wife quite likes to talk to me occasionally! Samuel Johnson suggested that “what is written without effort is in general read without pleasure” and, although it does not follow that making an effort will unfailingly produce happy readers, I am never satisfied by the first draft. With my gloomy nature I am convinced that one day extracts from this blog will be read out by a supercilious barrister at a GMC hearing. The chairman may condemn me as a doctor, but I want him or her to be satisfied with my prose.