Day 2, Doctor 2 – The Good
Amy arrives the next morning to drive me to town, and watches aghast as I inch out of my flat towards her car. Up until then, she’d only seen me indoors, where at least I know the perimeters of my own space. Outside, in bright sunshine, with nothing to hold on to, it takes me ten minutes to bridge the few paces between my front door and Amy’s Mini. She told me later that this was when she felt scared, seeing me move like a little old lady with no confidence in my body to keep me upright.
Comedy is always hot on the heels of tragedy. Amy isn’t used to driving in central London, and the stressful situation brings out an uncharacteristic recklessness in her. “Er, I think that’s a one-way-street,” I murmur, pointing feebly to the three lanes of traffic she’s turning in to. Tyres squeal as she reverses.
When we arrive at the appointment, our friend’s dad walks into the waiting room with open arms, he gives me a big hug and patiently helps me walk down the corridor to his office.
He’s known me since childhood and can instantly see there’s something severely wrong. Before he even sits down he reassures me that this won’t last forever, that there will be improvements. He asks “what symptoms are distressing you most?” which so different from yesterday’s ENT doctor who dismissively asked “Why are you upset?”
He takes the time to explain about the new medication and changes the order in which I’m to take the pills. He then says something so nice and, in our modern health service, so rare. He tells me to email him with updates and phone him if I have any questions.
Arriving back at the car, we see that after paying for parking, Amy left her debit card on the driver’s seat for everyone to see. Thankfully this is Harley Street so there’s no smashed window and stolen card to deal with, and we drive home. I feel so much better than I did after yesterday’s hospital appointment. I feel cared for and no longer alone.
In my ill, vulnerable state there was something wonderful and reassuring about seeing a doctor who has known me since childhood, someone who has an interest in my well-being. This is an unknown experience for me and makes me realise how much we’ve lost by no longer having family doctors.
Instead we have a health system built on 10 minute appointments with a different doctor each time. I’m sure this does nothing for the patient, nothing for doctors’ job satisfaction and nothing for clinical care.
It’s a very sad loss.