Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I give up!

Eddie came to the chest clinic this morning. His asthma is pretty well controlled with his present inhalers, and his lung function is appropriate for his age, and this despite his four decade smoking history. He says he would like to quit, but has tried all the methods available, with no lasting success. Still, this year he has decided to get serious and so, for Lent, he has given up.



Sadly, this behaviour modification has coincided with a bit of an upturn in the weather. In the past couple of weeks, Ambridge has been graced mainly by clear skies and brilliant sunshine or scattered, scudding clouds and a stiffish breeze. So in reality he’s not so much given up as changed venue.

Admittedly that makes it less likely that he will light up first thing, what with the rather frosty mornings such clear skies also cause; or last thing, since it’s still a bit nippy for standing on the patio in PJ’s, dressing gown and slippers. So this in part explains his drop from ten a day to six or seven. The problem is Lent will be up in another three weeks.

I’m also a bit baffled by the logic. Is it somehow more sinful to smoke indoors, polluting your own space, than outside, polluting everybody else’s? Or is God just watching what we get up to inside, knowing he can safely leave outdoors to Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, with their plethora of CCTV cameras and US loaned spy satellites? Or is this a new variation on the “calories don’t count if you’re standing up” argument?

I’m left wondering what other sins it might be safer to indulge outdoors, but, to be honest, so far I’m coming up blank.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The circus is in town.

Most of the time I’m more than happy to make do with a boring old mobile phone. The sort that just makes and receives calls. In fact, if I’m honest, I’m even more content to have the thing switched off in the glove box, or left back on the dresser at home. I know, I’m a grumpy old man, and I don’t care, so just get over it people.

Except that today I really, really wish I had one of those third generation, umpteen megapixel, all singing, all dancing, camera-phone-music-player-teasmade-filofax-blonde-bombshell-PA thingies. Because today I appear to have stepped through the looking glass and come out in Monty-Pythonland. You see, I know it’s not an acid flashback, ‘cos I never had the acid to flash forwards from in the first place, and yet the sight that greeted me on the way in to work this morning takes some explaining, and a picture really would have helped. I’m afraid you’ll just have to take my word for it instead. Still, you know you can trust me. After all I am a doctor….

I sense some of you in the cheap seats at the back getting restless. “Once again we haven’t got a clue what he’s talking about!” I hear you mumble above the background hubbub. I shall, at last, explain.

On the outskirts of town there’s a field (if I repeated this line now I might have a halfway decent beginning for a blues ballad—but we shan’t be going there today). In this field the are some sheep (yes, I know, “with a Baa Baa here an’a Baa Baa there”). So far so normal you might think, and so, on every other day it has turned out to be. But today these same sheep are auditioning for the Cirque d’Ambridge. In short they appear, gathered together in the corner of their field, in a seemingly perfect two-tier ovine pyramid, with a cluster of sheep at the base, and two very haughty specimens, side by side and faced Pushmipullyu fashion on the top tier.* So now you can see why I need a camera-phone.

Oh, and an in-car photographer, ‘cos otherwise all you’d actually get to see here would be a very fuzzy snap-shot of two headless sheepy blobs atop a mound of cotton wool.

*the boringly mundane reality is that the top layer sheep are standing on a very flat, very broad tree stump of an old, long ago felled, oak, with the remainder of the flock gathered in attendance around its circumference, which explanation rather spoils the illusion, but might help in my defense when the men in white coats come calling.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ars longa...

It’s a rather disappointing discovery to be sure. You see the exigencies of child care have occasioned me to take the middle three days of this past week off. In effect I have worked a two day week, namely Monday and today (Friday). Monday was a moderately busy Duty Surgery day, but the knowledge that this was to be followed by three days at home with the kids reduced the normal stress levels this would entail to near zero. And today, back for just a day before another weekend at home, has felt every bit as good.

I have been at my empathic best. I have explored every patient’s knowledge, expectations and concerns* to the uttermost. Dare I say it, I have even come over all “Peak Practice” on a couple of occasions.

All of which is leading me to the inescapable conclusion that far from being the macho, stress busting 24/7 Dr Kildare of the 21st century, I am in fact far more suited to the occasional commitments of the hobbyist, and well on the way to the pipe and slippers.

I think I feel a bit of a mid-life crisis coming on, and that’s a real blow. Especially since heretofore I was rather hoping to give Metheusala a run for his money, which would put the whole “mid-life” thing almost 440 years too soon.


Knowledge, expectations and concerns-- the "Holy Triad" or the Royal College of GPs, to be explored in every consultation. You know the sort of thing. " I know I've got a sore throat. I expect antibiotics. I'm concerned you won't let me have them."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Solar Power *

It’s been a bad month. You might have been able to tell, what with the total absence of posts and all.

No need to bother with the whys and wherefores. Most folk resident in Blighty might have some clue, although the press coverage of he latest spat between GP Land and Her Britannic Majesty’s Government hasn’t exactly been at the fore-front of the news agenda. Add that to the arrival of a new Student (whom I’m trying desperately to inoculate against the cynicism of my confreres—after all somebody’s got to step up to the plate and keep working to pay for my pension) and a rash of young adults bent on their own self –destruction, and overall the latter half of January through to now has been, in common parlance, “a bit of a bugger”.

And yet today, on the usual drive in to surgery, things somehow feel a little brighter. For one thing, half term is upon us, so no school run and no school traffic. Also all weekend, and again this morning, the sun has been shining, with nary a cloud in the sky. Daffodils are starting to nod in the verges, and a scattering of purple-pink crocuses dapple the floor of our own little wood at Jest Acres.

On the road to the surgery, roughly half way between Borchester and Ambridge, the road climbs sixty metres or so on to the Ambridge Escarpment. It’s a pretty enough stretch of road, but today, under Canaletto Blue skies suffused with the golden glow of the early morning sun, at this spot God is plainly in his heaven, and very little can be wrong with the world.

Governments come and go, as indeed do GP’s, students, suicidal teens and all the other trappings of modern existence. Yet some things still hint to us of eternity and perfection.

And in that context all the distractions of the past month boil away to nothing.

*For those who were wondering Dr J is indeed an unreconstructed hippie and flower-child who's formative years were profoundly affected by the Summer of Love. Not that you'd ever be able to tell nowadays.