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Forgive me, oh Great God of General Practice



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I’m an atheist, obviously. But it is dawning on me that there really is a Great God of General Practice. And a rather unforgiving, retributive one at that. Because He/She/It is clearly punishing me for not having taken the complaints of certain patients seriously enough.

So, last year, I was struck down by back pain – a condition I’d always been a bit dismissive of, to the point that I had always advised trainees that the correct word to describe patients with back pain who decline to sit down during the consultation is, ‘bonkers’. I was wrong, and the GP deity made me suffer because of it.

Now, it’s frozen shoulder. Yeah, big deal. See it every day, advice, analgesia, physio, maybe inject. Hang on, though. It hurts. As in, it #$@&!%* HURTS. I cannot sleep. I cannot scratch my back. And I cannot tuck my shirt in. But most importantly, I cannot get my credit cards out of my back pocket, so how am I going to pay when I’m forced go privately because of the intolerable NHS wait?

Because I needing FIXING and I need it NOW, so don’t give me that analgesia/physio/injection autodoc crap. Scan me, manipulate me, hydrodilate me, whatever. Just take me seriously, because this pain is painful, I’m tired and I’m not functioning. So I apologise, GGOGP, lesson learned.

I’m now living in fear wondering what the the GGOGP will strike me down with next

What this means is, first, we become better GPs as we get older, simply because we’re more likely to have experienced what the patients are presenting with. By which I don’t mean to denigrate younger GPs, although I do mean that, if one of you did give me standard CSA quasi-empathy because of the pain caused by my frozen shoulder, I would most definitely punch you in the face, though with less impact than I intend because I’ll be using my wrong fist.

And second, I’m now living in fear wondering what the GGOGP will strike me down with next. On that note, can I just point out that I have always taken dementia, cancer, heart disease, stroke, anything neurological, erectile dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, psychosis, arthritis, diabetes and visual impairment very seriously indeed, GGOGP, so need to make any kind of point there. And dementia. Did I mention that?

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex