People make or break your day!

Often one hears of, or reads about, nasty experiences dealing with people across the counter. Well in the last two days I have twice experienced just the opposite. That is I’ve had contacts where people have made my day! I am in a run of seeing doctors and having tests which isn’t always the most pleasant of experiences and being made to feel comfortable is great.

First up I had to see a specialist whom I had known during his early post-graduate training in a department where I was a senior. I saw him late in the afternoon on the day when he had just arrived back from his Christmas break and I’m sure was exhausted and just wanted to get off duty. But for the first half an hour we talked about the past, he obviously had in some way or other followed my path when I had returned to Ethiopia. He even knew that I had had a period of teaching French! Then he dealt with me in a most kind and professional way, explained his thinking and ordered several more investigations which he wanted performed. And at the end treated me pro bono!

Then this morning I had to go to the X-ray department and sort out a tangle of appointments. At the end of of last week they had declined to carry out a CT scan because of things from my past history. They had ordered other blood tests, the results of which I was carrying with me. I also had the request for the test which they had declined to do earlier and two new requests one of which I wanted added into the previous CT request and the other which was totally different. There were obvious advantages in combining the two different CT scans.

Approaching the desk when called we (my son and I) were met by a beautiful very young looking (that’s almost everyone these days) receptionist. She expected to just open the book and give me an appointment but it wasn’t that easy. She had never, I think, been faced by an old man who knew what he wanted and would, if possible, like his own way. It was not easy for her because they had to contact someone to read the results of the previously ordered tests; she had never dealt with a patient wanting to have two requests ordered by two different doctors rolled into one; then the third test couldn’t be done in their radiology unit and the barium needed for it is difficult to find. I think because of Australia-Chinese relationship at the moment it is hard to get. Then the possible alternative to be used as a contrast in the examination had to be approved by the surgeon ordering the test, and he could not be contacted as he was operating. She sought help from a senior, another young looking very pleasant lady, and together they worked on the problem for about 45 minutes.

Through it all she was calm, professional, friendly and nice to work with. Thus I have had two very pleasant contacts in two days. Now I remain hopeful that the tests will be as comfortable and that the results are decisive and nice! I don’t know her and maybe we’ll never meet again, but she made my day! I was very happy to tell her so.

Dominic Cartier

A doctor going to the doctor.

I guess that anyone with expertise in a certain area unconsciously, or maybe consciously, wonders how they would have handled what they’re looking at or what they would have said when they are listening to a talk on a subject about which they know a fair bit. the other day, I as a lay preacher, was talking to two ministers who had been in the audience where I had just preached. One of them said that he had wondered how he would have handled the topic. And he may well have done it better but was too gracious to say so!

I was a specialist surgeon and the GP before whom I was sitting was one of my interns years ago. I wonder how he felt! When I see him, before speaking he often asks what I think, not because he’s not in charge but in deference to our past. And obviously he knows that as hard as I try not to self diagnose I have already thought about what is going on. And I know that he doesn’t want to take our conversation to all the possibilities as to what the diagnosis may be, or to where investigations and treatment may lead us. I felt sorry for him as he (we) worked on a plan as where we would go to sort things out.

I wondered what I would have said and what he was going to say, as I knew that he and I were thinking parallel thoughts. So, and I think he handled it well, he said ‘you know that is usually a significant symptom.’ Still there are exceptions!

Now to await the specialist visits and the test results!

Dominic Cartier