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!
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.
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.”
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.