Am I turning into a social media addicted freak so late in my life?!!!

keyboard for blogSo I am retired, and recovering from my nose operation. I am at home, should have lots of time.

I have started proof reading and correcting those mistakes in my book (the publisher will correct them for free), and I should write.

book blog

I would like to…The trouble is, I don’t.

Of course, it is my fault, but I have become totally taken over by social media.

And it could be worse.

I have been neglecting Twitter and Facebook, I only concentrate on Goodreads and my personal communications.

But even that is too much.

Let’s look at it:

WhatsApp: I communicate with several family and friends, exchanging irrelevant short chatty notes. It is fun.

Should not take much time, but you’ll be for blog 23-06-2015 12-19-21


All those reviews, friend’s updates, Literary Fiction group discussion groups. I am much less active than the others- how do they find the time to do this, work, and be with their families? My children have flown the nest, and I no longer work, and I find it too time consuming, although interesting.

Chats on Google:

I always complain that the man I love does not have time for me. He lives in America and works too much. Yet, lately we chat a lot, mainly when he is on a plane. I love Internet enabled planes. And I love him. But yesterday, he was on a long flight, and the conversation took more than 4 hours. 4 hours where I should have been doing something else. Well, that does not happen very often…


I love receiving and getting emails, and I correspond with many people. Sometimes I cheat and cut and paste bits, editing it carefully. I make and keep friends easily, a gift I appreciate. I have the habit of replying to emails the same day, sometimes the same hour.

One of my friends, Ales, wrote:

“I reply to your email after 2 weeks, and ‘Bing’, your reply arrives for me to write again!”

And my partner claims he loves my emails, but would love them less if he had to reply to them all. Well, I am starting to sympathise. Maybe I should try NOT to reply to emails that quickly, give myself and the others some space and time.

WordPress blogs:

I have been neglecting those nice blogs of people who follow mine, feeling guilty. I wonder if they feel the same.

Twitter: @WritingLucie

Totally neglected, do not have time to read the tweets, and I am sure I am missing a lot.

Facebook: Lucie Novák – Writer


Both totally neglected

And then there is the Internet: News, articles, websites…

And not to forget, I am a crazy tennis fan– lots of grass court tennis on TV.


Am I turning into a social media addicted freak so late in my life?!!!


I have been lucky

So it really happened. On Friday, I saw my last patient.

I feel free. It is a nice feeling.

They threw me a party lunchtime, and gave me a cake and a new laptop. Lenovo Yoga Pro 3, I picked it myself, and it is pretty great. And it is orange- my favourite colour!

part of the cakelenovo for blog

I will use it when I travel. If I write more books (and I will), it will be on this laptop.

Long weeks in the sun, thinking about the plots and characters while I am sunbathing, and typing it in my hotel room later. Sounds great!

I will also re-join all those Goodreads forums, read and comment on all those great blogs that I follow, but did not have time to read lately.

A new life.

But this weekend, I have been looking back at those years as a GP.

I looked again at those cards, all wishing me happy retirement. They are all nice, but some are pretty touching:

“.when I was getting a bit fed up with myself you always made me feel cheerful and optimistic again, even though you usually told me I was putting on weight. I got most of it off now. When you came, I was a bit apprehensive because I liked my previous GP, but I soon felt confident again and a relaxed with you….”

“You have been such a fantastic support to me over 20 years I hope you really do enjoy your time. You deserve every happiness for the future I will definitely miss you.”

“I remember about 11 years ago having the worst sore throat over the weekend and you were so lovely and phoned me the next day- on a Sunday to see how I was! Thank you…”

“I am sorry to hear you are retiring (purely selfish of me, I know) I have found you really supportive over the years I wish you all the best in your retirement …”

Patient with a syndrome I have never heard off with a wife matching him in being “interesting to doctors” – a curse, surely:

“I can’t imagine anyone else so understanding two such complicated patients as me and my wife. You have made our lives very comfortable by accommodating our problems….Your successor is certainly going to have a hard act to follow…”

This one, from  family who had to escape from Sarajevo made me cry. I understood their problems, I used to be an asylum seeker myself.

” You have served us with devotion, kindness ,and great professionalism. At this moment in your life, we feel immense gratitude and we think we have been blessed to have you as our doctor. It was just our luck.”


A patient whose son died of brain tumour age 25:

“I shall miss you.  You were so caring. I could not have got through the loss of my son and then my husband if it was not for your kindness and guidance…”

An anxious Italian patient whom I enjoyed gently teasing about her constant worries about non-existent medical problems of her or her daughter. She took my teasing well.

“We have really enjoyed being looked after by you first have a great sense of humour and second you have a big heart you will be missed.”

“You will always listen and be responsive and reassuring…”

“You have said in your letter to your patients that you have ‘never been one for small talk’ – maybe not, but you have always been a good listener. When I was at my lowest you were wonderful, never condescending, always sensible, always showing empathy, thank you…”

“…you have been an exceptional GP, always listening and then taking the appropriate action .I always have complete faith in your decision-making…”

You have supported and encouraged me when I went through my divorce, thank you! …”

“You always seemed to know exactly what was wrong and make the appropriate decision.” 

“Thank you so much for all your care and attention for the last 23 years! I will miss your thoroughness and consistency. I will also miss your empathy with my difficult job as an eating disorder specialist nurse…”

“I loved the letter you sent to us. I did just that:
“how are you? Very well thank you”. It made me laugh.”

“I hope I will find the doctor just like you I never felt nervous, you make me feel comfortable…”

“My children have grown up and moved out of the area but yet you always enquire about how they are and they of course enquire about you. My son said ‘Oh no she is now going to kill herself skiing’…”

From a sweet old Italian man:

“I have always relied on your medication to banish my physical pain that I have named you as my personal Madonna of Lourdes. Many thanks once again.”

(Hmm, Madonna was of course Jewish, too, but I am a completely Godless person.)

From a Russian bi-polar math teacher, struggling with her mental illness:

“I have so many memories of you!  But the best one is when I first brought my new-born daughter do you. Your enjoyment and delight are still vivid in my mind. That was 17 years ago. Thank you so much for all your care for being there for me when I needed you and for being such a brilliant confidence inspiring tonic GP”

From a 91 year old patient:
“I am a reasonable active old biddy which I’m sure is mostly due to your care…

From a patient I never thought liked me as her doctor:

“Your direct practical and sympathetic approach to my problems have reassured me, an ever anxious patient…”

“I enjoyed reading your funny letter and I was sorry to hear you are retiring as I always thought of you as a young lady! I am glad to say that I didn’t need to call on your very often but always enjoyed my visit as you usually told me there was little wrong with me apart from being overweight…”

“You have always been so thorough in finding a diagnosis and generous in the time you have given if only to reassure with your advice. I have indeed been very fortunate and privileged to have had you as my GP .Over the years coming to the surgery has become like visiting a friend and like many of your patients I will miss you…”

Of course, I KNOW  I talk too much!

“As regards to your letter, I soon learned that unless I gabbled off my ailments at the moment I got in the surgery door I wouldn’t get a word in!  I did know however I could trust your judgement of any problem I may have. You are a good doctor and I shall miss your presence…”

“Thank you for your practical approach to the problems I had caring for my parents. Instead of just sympathy and platitudes, you offered solutions…”

“We cannot thank you enough for your care and understanding you have shown us.”

“I have been reading your letter. You wrote: “Have I been a good GP?”
Just ask a few patients including my family”.

And so it went, you are all probably already bored to death! I wasn’t.

I am touched and grateful.

Grateful to those people who never minded having an alien with no small talk and a heavy Czech accent as their GP. Patients who forgave me my direct approach and the fact that I have exercise on my brain. People who welcomed me to their country and it looks to me, welcomed me also to their hearts!

The colleagues, receptionists, nurses, doctors, who I am sure occasionally wanted to kill me for driving them nuts, who all had kind words for me.

Thank you.

My American partner said it well. He wrote:

“And to have so many people want to mark the day and say thanks by sending cards, flowers etc.!   Few of us get the chance to have that sort of impact on people.  You’ve been lucky.  And of course, so have they.”

 baloons for blog  You will be missed, too, my colleagues and patients,but I am ready to go. And when life does not go according to plan, I will re-read your cards , and they will make me feel happy again. 

Only 3 days to go to the end of my life as a doctor.

cards 1
some of the cards from patients

Next week will be my last week at work. I have worked in the same medical centre for more than 25 years. Patients that I remember being born now have their own children. Often I looked after three and sometimes four generations of the same family.

So now I am saying good bye to it all. I might never work as a doctor again. I kept my registration and did my appraisal to keep my options open, but I am ready for new challenges.

It is a strange feeling, and a big change.

But then, I have plans. I really enjoy writing, and I would like to try to make my book successful and finish the sequel. I started writing the sequel a year ago, but haven’t touched it for several months.

I also have lots of stories I’d like to write about, amazing stories I heard from my parents and other relatives and friends, mainly experiences form the war. Stories from concentration camps with a difference because they are funny. Dark Jewish humour, experiences of people behaving well. Uplifting stories, despite the tragic background.

I might write those stories under my real name.

My publisher and several journalists that were interested in my book “A Woman with (No) Strings Attached” keep telling me my chance of success is limited by my hidden identity. They wanted photos. I was willing to do interviews, providing nobody sees my face. It is hard, because a lot of my book is autobiographical and it is not only my identity I am protecting.

Some things are more important than my literary success.

I love writing, always did. My friends are used to my long frequent emails.             My partner once said “I love your emails, but I would love them less if I had to reply to them all.”So maybe I should concentrate on writing those stories and trying to publish them under my real name, not as Lucie Novák. Then, if anybody is interested, they can see my face! (Not that it is much of a treat).

computer and flowers

The last weeks at work were touching. All those cards, flowers, chocolates, other presents. And it is not just a printed “Happy Retirement!” Patients write me long lovely notes. I will keep them. One of the patient baked me a cake that looked like flowers!

Looks like flowers but it is a cake

And flowers that looked like flowers:


cards 2

Sometimes, the notes reminded me of long forgotten cases…

“Nine years ago, you did my Pap smear and I didn’t feel a thing.” I remembered the woman, who found examinations scary, and did not have a smear for ten years.I told her I will buy her a bottle of wine if it hurts. I joked and took things slowly. It worked. She brought me a bottle of wine now, and attached another note: ” You never needed to get me that bottle, doctor!”

 …Thank you for looking after me and after my two sons for the last 20 years. I am especially grateful for your help back in 1999. I came to you very distraught with my son Joe. He could not seem to drink or eat, but I visited two Accident and Emergency departments and seen a paediatrician and they all told me nothing was wrong and he was hysterical! This was over a period of two days. You immediately knew something was wrong and sent us to an ENT department. After much discussion there he was given an emergency operation and they removed a piece of chicken from his oesophagus. You were the only doctor that took us seriously. He is now a healthy 25 y old man , but I dread to think what may have happened if not for you.”

I remembered the occasion when I read her card. I complained to the hospital manager about the doctors who dismissed the child’s complaint.

We were really surprised you are retiring, as you have been such a part of our family lives  for many years..”

“I received the news of your retirement with sadness for me and joy for you”

 “Thanks for your direct, practical and sympathetic approach” I am not sure if this was a compliment. Does “direct” mean rude? I hope not.

“Your “3 secrets of weight loss” will always stay with me. You used to annoy me so much by mentioning my weight and lack of exercise. This doctor claims it is all my fault!Eventually, I took your advice and ‘ate less, exercised more and this time I did it all at the same time’…I lost 20 kg and feel much better. Thank you! “

I have the note on my door. secret of weight loss

I could go on, all those stories.

Those cards remind me that I made a difference. Any person who can say that about his or her work is lucky.

I should apologise to my mother, who made me study medicine against my will. ANd of course, that she bought me my first and many other skis.

Being a GP was a satisfying career and I had fun. 

Thank you, mother. Thank you, patients. Thank you, skiing! 

Now I wonder if my writing can make a difference, too. To my readers.

It is a challenge! And I like challenges.

Wish me luck!


Retiring is a bitter-sweet business.

This is going to be short.

Life has been hectic. Arranging all those papers, changing my various medical subscriptions as I am only going to possibly work as a locum (and maybe not at all), and of course, never running on time with my ten minutes per patient schedule because they all want to talk about my retirement, and their relationship with me, but of course still have their medical problems,

This month, my surgery is buzzing with small talk. Despite all my patients having read and chuckled over my parting letter.

And of course, there is still the dreaded weather. Which by the way has been rather horrible, wet and windy. Oh! Am I starting to be boring about the weather, too? Have I lived here for too long?


On Friday, I made a patient cry.

Last time that happened was when I had to tell somebody bad news. That time, I was practical, sympathetic and supportive, the tears dried soon, and I had a good feeling that I was helpful.

This time, it was different, and no I did not feel good about it. Yet, maybe I should.

A 85 year old patient, a nice, polite intelligent woman who was very healthy until recently, but had a bad year, a woman I know well and respect for her elegant understated appearance and behaviour.

There was nothing understated on Friday.

Frances recently had a serious spinal surgery, and when recovering, fell and broke her hip. A disaster, but by the time of my visit, she was on the mend, walking with a Zimmer frame, but promising to switch over to crutches soon. Frances is determined, and I am sure she will do well. I reviewed her medication, took her blood pressure, told her about exercise. All my patients would tell you that I have exercise on my brain. I do.

So I told Frances to get some light dumbbells or lift tins of beans. Old people need muscles even more than young ones.

We were joking and laughing, but then I had to tell you the news, that I am retiring at the end of the month.

It was horrible. She started sobbing, and couldn’t stop. Of course, she was not crying about me. She was crying about being old and frail, and about people- friends and family, and now her doctor disappearing. Her husband died five years ago, and her son visits, but he is a busy man. It happens to old people, they gradually loose friends and family along the way if they live long enough.

But she just could not stop. I embraced her, told her I was sorry, and after sobbing for a bit, she regained her composure and magnanimously told me how pleased she was that I will now have time to travel and enjoy other things than work.

Of course, neither Frances nor any other patient know that I have just written a rather “out there” book about casual sex, voyeurism and infidelity. I told her I will travel and write a bit.I told her I love someone who lives abroad and that I will see more of him.

I said with those exercises, you will soon be able to leave the apartment and go out. Frances lives in an apartment with two flights of stairs and no lift, unfortunately common in England. Tough on old frail people.

I told her she will be well looked after by another GP. I told her she is such a nice sensible patient, any doctor will be pleased to have her as a patient.

All true.

But that made her cry again, and I had to go back to the surgery to see patients. So she was sobbing again, and I did something I never do, I let her kiss me, and then I fled.

Downstairs, I met her son. I said hello, and intentionally put on an “I am in a hurry” look and walked to my car. British are polite people, he did not stop me to ask questions.

I wonder if he thought “What did the horrible doctor do to make my usually so stoical mother cry?!”

Retiring is a bittersweet business.

Before I retire- it seems I was more popular than I thought.

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.