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Another day, another sicknote

Our diarist is coping with an outbreak of sicknote syndrome. Beware – it can be contagious

Our diarist is coping with an outbreak of sicknote syndrome. Beware – it can be contagious

I'd better wipe the sweat from my brow before I begin.

The Monday morning onslaught was particularly fierce today, including a lady in tears over her blood pressure tablets. Then there was a young man whose legs were purple from the knee down. He came in under duress, saying he 'didn't want to bother the doctors', but his employers had insisted. In fact, he was keen to get straight back once I had finished scratching my head. In this regard he was unlike the other punters, most of whom wanted a sicknote. Including the crying lady.

Easy, tiger

It all reminds me of a chap I saw last week. He came limping in, clutching a blood-soaked rag to his side. Now that I'm nearing the end of my registrar year I know enough to realise that he might not have come about a sore throat. But you never know.

'Well, Doc,' he began, 'I was on my way to work when I was mauled by a Bengal tiger. I was wondering if I could have a sicknote and take the rest of the day off. ''But of course!' I replied, and with a magnanimous sweep of the pen I gave him the next day as well. Naturally I made this up. The number of Bengal tigers in Maidenhead is dismally low, and in real life the urge to seek a sicknote seems to lie somewhere between exsanguinating injuries and the threat of rain in the morning.

Truth shy

I'm particularly bitter about a certain worst-case scenario patient.

She broke me in when I first arrived here, and then returned to haunt me last week. In the first episode, she said she had been told to take two months off for depression by 'that other doctor'. She also told me she couldn't lose any weight because she wasn't eating enough. I should mention that she was wearing sunglasses indoors.

As it turns out, both her statements were a bit mad and shy of the truth. She came back two months to the day, this time saying it was the counsellor who had suggested another two months. Fortunately I had seen her name on my list and done my homework. That other doctor and the counsellor had both said she should get back to work as soon as possible, as at the very least it would curb her eating.

After a peaceful hiatus she trundled in with what sounded suspiciously like chest pain. So off she went to hospital, returning triumphantly to tell us she had a pneumothorax. 'And they told me to take time off work,' she added.

She managed to get three weeks from another doctor in the practice, the end of which coincided with the late arrival of her discharge letter. Diagnosis: 'indigestion'.

I think some transference has occurred because I'm now suffering from gastritis, chest pain, binge eating – plus I'm filled with a strong desire to take time off work.

Geoff Tipper is a GP registrar in Maidenhead, Berkshire

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