This post has been quite hard to write and might be equally so to read. I’m afraid you’ll have to take my word for it that in no way is it intended as a whinge, however it turns out…
Tony called yesterday to update me on his progress. He was effusive in his praise of the surgery, and of the hospital team he was referred to. In charming and measured tones he took me through his last few weeks, from my referral to the initial surgical outpatients appointment just a few days after. Thence to CT scanning and back to a different, oncology, outpatients appointment where they gave him the expected news, that he did indeed have a carcinoma, and that it was too invasive and widespread for surgery. He goes for palliative radiotherapy in the near future.
He appreciates that the prognosis is poor, and yet is quite unreasonably grateful to the team that have made the diagnosis and given him that information. It may sound surprising, but in my experience such innate nobility and generosity of spirit is not at all unusual. Indeed I would go so far as to say I often feel most appreciated* by those patients for whom I can do the least.
Annoyingly, the converse is also often true, and patients for whom one has attempted impossible feats of logistics, who have then accessed the specialist of their , often quite unreasonable, choice and undergone the high tech intervention for whatever problem they have presented, return to moan about delays in treatment, parking problems and the quality of the hospital food. After consultations like this you will find me tearing what little remains of my hair out, and wondering just why it is I heave myself out of bed each morning to come here...
And then Mrs Archer will wander in for a review of her Diabetes and High Cholesterol, and with a twinkle in her eye, and not a hint of irony, hand over a box of Clotted Cream Fantail Shortbread, “for you Doctor, from my holidays…”.
Well at least it helps explain her sugars and cholesterol!
*Such utterly unwarranted appreciation comes with a large slab of guilt on the side.