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My resolution for 2008? Be nicer

A very happy New Year! No doubt by the time today’s piece goes up we’ll be well in to 2008, but I write on the eve of 2007. It’s a time of reflection and planning, of course.

A very happy New Year! No doubt by the time today's piece goes up we'll be well in to 2008, but I write on the eve of 2007. It's a time of reflection and planning, of course.

Resolutions? Quit drinking, quit speeding, quit whingeing, be nicer to the elderly, be nicer to the young, be nicer to the in-betweens, etc..

Christmas was particularly good for me. I had several illuminating talks with my cousins. One asked, "Why do you polish your shoes so much?" To which I replied, "In order to give my patients the impression they're dealing with a true professional." "And how long before they realise the truth?" To which I said, "It usually coincides with me opening my mouth."

I told another cousin that I had seen someone who drank enough vodka over the past three years to fill a swimming pool (approx 1200 litres, stop me if I'm wrong. Maybe that's a small pool). His response was: "You know what I'd tell ‘em? I'd say, ‘Right geezer, start making your will. You've got less than two years before your liver is completely f****d.'"

I reflected and told him that that is more or less what I said, minus the expletive. I prefer "rogered". This, to his mind, was confirmation that you don't actually need a degree to do what I do. I strongly disagree, of course. In fact, several more degrees would be useful, such as: Diploma of Patience, Certificate of Common Sense (Hons), and BSc in Pharmakokinethesiolgy. Given my strong surgical background and therefore commensurately weak medical background, sometimes I think I ought to go right back to medical school again:

"What? You want contraception that won't make your periods heavier, won't make your skin worse, won't make you put on weight and won't give you PMT? Well… how about crossing your legs?"

"Diabetes? Wait, don't tell me. That's the sugar thing, isn't it?"

I've also learned that not all fluid filled lumps respond well to sticking in a needle. This was after a patient described it as, and I quote, "The most painful experience of my life." Female readers will recognise instantly that this patient was a man. Funnily enough, he resumed his normal good humour the moment the needle was withdrawn. And how we both laughed when he came back over two weeks later with "strange pale crusting at the site". This proved to be the plaster I had put on. It's so satisfying to make your patient better with a short, sharp tug.

Returning to the theme of further training, languages certainly come in handy: "Ce n'est pas necessaire de nettoyer le toilet avec une brosse aux dents chaque fois que vous quittez la maison. Vous avez le OCD." I did not make this up. My French is really that bad. And my Polish is non-existent, which is becoming a real problem.

But, back to my resolutions and my cousins: one commented that she wouldn't like to be one of my patients. She's under the impression that I'm not very nice to them. Now why on earth could she have developed that opinion?

Hence the whole "being nicer" thing. So, away I go: send in the next pleasantly scented, gifted, svelte and gracious patient! I will charm the bunions off of them.

Geoff Tipper

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