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It seems I missed the all-important lecture on diagnosis and treatment of vague b*******

Now I know I missed the odd lecture at medical school, but I think now I must have been a lot less diligent then I thought.  Recently I got to thinking I must have slept through a whole lecture series entitled ‘diagnosis and treatment of vague bollocks’, because some of the stuff patients present with I sure as hell can’t explain.

‘Doc I get this surging feeling in the big toe of my left foot along with an itchy sensation in my teeth, but it only occurs on Saturday nights in mid-spring after I’ve had a Chinese takeaway what do you think it could be?’

How loud does an inner scream have to be before it makes your ears bleed?

So you go back to basics, examine, blood tests and of course everything is normal. You tell them whatever it is, it’s nothing serious, but sensing their need for an explanation, against your better judgement, you do your best.

‘Well your tooth sensation could be due to the acidity of the food and it may be sitting down eating it on the sofa caused some pressure on the nerves in your leg which led to your toe numbness.’

They shoot your explanation down faster than a slow-flying grouse in front of a member of the royal family.

‘Well it can’t be acidity, because I test all my food with litmus paper and I never eat anything with a pH less than eight and my toe symptom can’t be due to sitting down because I never do, I relax by swinging vertically in a sling suspended from the ceiling and anyway it’s a “surging” feeling not a numbness.’

How loud does an inner scream have to be before it makes your ears bleed?

How did we get here? Patients thinking we are omniscient and if we haven’t given them an answer they are happy with then turning up every two weeks with the same symptoms will wear us down to the point where we give in and hand them the bottle of magic elixir from under our desk we’ve been hiding all along.

You would struggle to find a more paradoxical state of affairs. We live in a time when we are simultaneously seen by many to have all the answers, while at the same time the Government is constantly feeding the notion to the public that we are lazy, overpaid and could be easily replaced with a spotty youth on minimum wage and some user friendly software – no wonder so many retreat into the world of utter bollocks.

Dr David Turner is a GP in west London