Thursday, 28 November 2013

I had to prowl off to the doctor

yesterday. No, nothing seriously wrong. It was a routine appointment.
I arrived with some homemade shortbread for the front desk staff at the clinic we attend. They do an excellent job of caring for people like the Senior Cat. He has, at his age, to prowl in more frequently although not nearly so frequently as many people I know. I like to think I can say "thank you" occasionally.
My GP was running late. I had an appointment for 9:15am. There was no sign of him.
There were people in the waiting room of course. The clinic we attend has eight doctors at present. Not all of them are there all the time but there are usually five or six working.
There is the inevitable television (with subtitles) playing quietly in the corner. There are people leafing restlessly through the paper and the magazines. The state of those tells me that I must remind the Senior Cat to take some more next time he goes. (We pass on the Readers' Digest subscription given to the Senior Cat.)
There is one person pacing restlessly and irritating everyone. His doctor is late and he needs to go to work and... The staff try to quieten him and tell him his GP is dealing with an emergency situation.
A young man arrives looking pale and anxious. He has x-rays in his hand.
A mother arrives with a young child. The child obviously knows the routine. He heads straight for the toy box, pulls out a book and "reads".
And so it goes on. I greet an elderly Greek couple. They ask about my sister's mother-in-law. The news is not good but I make it as positive as possible. 
At 9:50am my GP calls me in with apologies. He looks tired already.
"Rough morning?" I ask
"Very rough - been up most of the night," he tells me.
"And it wasn't good?"
He shakes his head and says, "The worst."
We leave it at that but I know that even being able to say that has helped.
He is about to check my blood pressure when his phone rings. He listens, issues instructions and says he will deal with something immediately.
"Cat, I need to take another call..."
"Want me to wait outside?"
"No. You might be able to help. Got time to call in on J... on the way back? Her daughter's away at present or I'd get her to do it."
The patient is confused about new medication and how to take it. I nod.
He takes the call and tells J am there. Is it all right to talk in front of me? I can help? Yes.
Rather than have them visit the chemist again in the heat he tells them I will come and explain. He gives me the instructions which are simple if you are younger, intelligent and speak English as your first language but confusing if you are elderly, lacking in medical intelligence and English is your second language.
At last he takes my blood pressure - which is, with mild medication, reassuringly normal.
I thank him and he says, "No, thankyou very much."
I call in on J and draw a picture of what she needs to do. I mark the level for the liquid dose on the little cup.  She nods. I make her repeat the instructions and, yes, now I am satisfied she does understand.
When I get home out of the heat I ring the clinic as requested and leave a message to say I am certain she does understand. Do I want to speak to the doctor? No I tell the receptionist, he's busy. A message will do. It's all he wants - and he has already said "Thankyou."

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