Two weeks ago, in mid-afternoon surgery, there was a soft “plink” noise. Only a quiet noise, but such a noise as comes laden with evil portent. Accompanying the “plink” was a flash of the screen, followed by an evanescent appearance of the fabled BSOD* then nothing. Like a heavyweight boxer smacked on the chin by Ali in his pomp, my computer folded at the knees, collapsed to the canvas and tiny cartoon bluebirds started flitting around its brow to the accompaniment of a tweety whistle.
The gremlins had struck with perfect timing, late on the Wednesday before the Easter weekend. So Maundy Thursday morning we called IT. They promised and engineer on next working day (i.e. Tuesday). No big problem as one of our learners was off on hols and her broom cupboard --- er *room* (ahem) was free to consult in. **
After a tranquil and relaxing Easter (yeah right… but that’s another whole set of stories involving fire and sacrifice and tedious little distractions of a similar sort, not for here and now) your humble interlocutor was out of surgery on Tuesday morning touring the Nursing Homes of the district—part of a new initiative to enhance our care of the elderly-- and so fully expected to be back after lunch to find a shiny new terminal humming away right as nine-pence.
No such luck!
Happily we were a nurse down so had a treatment room spare, with a computer in, so 3 days 3 rooms and on with the motley. Except none of the punters could get used to the idea of me consulting in the nurses room and all and sundry developed a compelling need to rummage in the treatment room cupboards for this dressing or that blood tube as I was trying to work. Still we got through. But by close of play still no sign of IT.
Wednesday and Dr Neighbour was out all morning—day 4 room 4 and by now it wasn’t just the punters that didn’t know where they were going. All my diagnostic kit was liberally distributed through the other three rooms, all of which were now in occupation, so whenever I needed to check an ear, dip a urine or test a BP I was off wandering the corridors like a lost soul looking for my kit. Oh and Wednesday we had a student in for tuition with yours truly. The poor thing didn’t know what on earth was going on, but gamely took to entertaining the punters whilst I roamed chuntering through the building questing for this or that.
IT phoned late on Wednesday and announced they would definitely be in on Thursday. Probably.
Thursday we had a problem. Everybody was back in and consulting, so I had a room (my own) with no computer, and there was a computer in the office space behind reception with no privacy. Solution, print out contact sheets for the whole surgery (recent history, significant problem lists, current meds and any up to date bloods) and consult without the “one eyed monster” writing scripts by hand and updating the computer record afterwards. Simples!***
So sure enough two patients in, IT guy arrives to install a new box and take the old one away to be sealed in carbonite and buried in a vault on the Death Star. Brilliant news, except that he needed an hour and a half to twiddle knobs and adjust dials to get the thing working properly. And it’s a one time now or never offer ‘cos he’s got to be elsewhere working for a godlike NHS manager by 13.00 and he’s off to a stag do in Amsterdam after that (you’re thinking TMI right? So was I). So send all the punters home or try to consult in the car park? As I ask the question of our chief receptionist we both look to the vacant practice manager’s office for inspiration. P.M. off for the week getting drowned in the balmy post Easter rains so no help forthcoming from that quarter.
Now I know you’re all already ahead of me here. Office, vacant, and with computer linked to clinical system. There followed what the younger generation would call a face-palm moment.
Day 5 room 5 and by lunch surgery sorted and back, at last to normality. I’m back in my Tardis and all’s right with the multiverse. Excepting the trivial matter of a loss of data slowly gleaned over ten or so years of consulting and only partially and fitfully backed up. And the abiding impression of a few dozen punters and a final year student of my Alma Mater that I’m a bumbling fool who suffers with terminal “olecrano-gluteal dysgnosia”****.
*Blue Screen Of Death
** Yes the Ambridge surgery treats its learners rather like Hogwarts does. Only without the pointy hats and wands and such.
*** In joke in Blighty about a talking meerkat. In all honesty if you need to ask you're better off not knowing, trust me. (Though You Tube will probably oblige, but you’ll really wish you hadn’t bothered. Honest.)
**** EVCHN for first correct translation. (There's a tiny clue in the title)