I have been absent from my blog, I haven’t written anything since Easter, and I am not even managing to read all those interesting blogs I follow.
Life seems to be a blur.
It is partly my work. Now my patients know I am retiring, they all come to say good bye.
I never thought I was a particularly popular doctor.
My patients respect me and I respect them, but it has never been a personal relationship, apart from some rare exceptions.
They are my patients, not my friends.
But I love my job, I am interested in my patients’ problems (my insane curiosity helps) and I like solving puzzles. I am also organised and persistent, and I am known to drive the hospital specialists and their secretaries nuts by insisting on proper reports and follow up appointments for my patients. All part of my work.
In my consultations, I get to the point. I listen, but if the conversation moves to small talk or non-relevant information, I intervene. I usually run on time.But I am not managing to run on time recently.
What those patients are telling me in the surgery or when they stop me in the supermarket is surprising:
“I will miss you so much, you always sorted out any problem I had!”
“You were the only doctor that helped, I saw everybody else in the practice before I came to you, and you knew immediately what was wrong!”
“You always listen, not all doctors do!”
“We will never get a doctor as brilliant as you are.”
“You helped me to enjoy sex, and you are so easy to talk to!”
I have known you since I was a baby, and now you look after my children, too, life will not be the same without you!”
“My wife quotes you as an authority on health, exercise, diet, everything, you should write a book!”
That patient does not of course know that I DID write a book, an outrageous novel about married dating.
And so it goes, all those flattering remarks, and I smile, blush, and say ” thank you very much” and try to change the subject.
So I thought about my now soon to end medical career. How I always seemed a bit different to other doctors I know.
Medicine was not my vocation, I could have done a lot of various different jobs with equal enthusiasm.
I never “needed to be needed”.
I kept my professional distance.
I never particularly enjoyed the company of other doctors- I often found them a bit too serious and pompous.
I am not really interested in science or medicine apart form on the “need to know basis”.
But it seems that despite all that, I have been doing a good job.
I think it was because I liked my job, I never found it stressful, and I liked the problem solving. Patient instinctively knew it, and respected me not because of my personality (they would be probably a bit shocked if they knew how unconventional I can get) or my kindness.
They respected me because of my capability of doing the job of their doctor well.
They accepted my incapability of doing the small talk and my foreign accent, my jokes, and sometimes, directness unusual for this country.
This is an excerpt of the letter I wrote and hang on the walls of my practice:
Everybody, the partners, staff, patients were so kind to me!
Nobody ever made me feel that I did not belong. And yet, I have a strong Czech accent, and I am sure I sometimes seemed like an alien to you all. But you have been very welcoming to my alien invasion, and I would like to thank you for that.
I have learnt a lot from my patients, there is such a lot of people out there who I admire. Patients coping with ill health, bad luck, social and family problems. Patients who defy prejudice and disability. Parents who do a marvellous job despite all odds while keeping their sense of humour.
Being a GP has been such fun. I hope I gave you all as much time as you needed to discuss your concerns.
I am very chatty, my friends and family would tell you that I never shut up, but I have never been one for small talk. I once tried to play the game and asked my patients: “How are you?” instead of my usual “What can I do for you today?”
They all had the same answer. “Very well, thank you.” I said “So why are you here?” They chuckled and started to tell me what was wrong.
Was I a good GP? I hope so. I certainly enjoyed being your doctor.
But I am retiring on 29th May. And after that, you might get a not only a new competent good doctor, but a “normal “GP that you CAN talk to about the weather. And if they ask you “How are you?” you can tell them “Very well, thank you”.
I will miss you all. I will be meeting you in the streets and in supermarket, and if I don’t smile at you, it is only because I didn’t see you!
I wish you all the best. Thank you for having me and putting up with me.
They did put up with me, they even seemed to like me more than I ever suspected.
And that is nice! I am looking forward to my retirement, I will write, travel, blog, read.
But I had fun working.