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The long goodbye

A patient is disturbed by the health of his GP in the latest from Through the K Hole


It was late evening. They sat opposite each other in the intimate soft space of the consulting room; doctor and patient, bound and pooled by the golden arc of a banker's lamp.

She was elderly, self-conscious and vulnerable. As she sat down, awkwardly at first, mindful of her back, he saw that her skin, dehisced and paper thin, was stretched over cheek bones that were rouged to hide a fine scarlet web of telangiectasia. During the examination he was struck by the prominent beaded nodules of arthritis that lobed from her fingers and saw that her neck was covered with warty lichen; limpets stuck to a slowly rusting hull.

With each breath, with each pursed lipped exhalation he heard a musical polyphonia coming from inside the dark envelope of her chest.

After the examination she settled back, removed her stethoscope and began to slowly write out a prescription for her patient. He thanked her and left, hoping that one day the Government would allow her to retire; so that she could end her career with a semblance of dignity.

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen. Click here to sign our 'No to 65' petition

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