Angry Patients

Photo by PAUL SMITH on Unsplash

A lot of GPs say that one of the attractions of general practice is that they don’t what’s going to come through the door. And it’s true. Every time I buzz someone through, I have a brief read through their records and wonder what symptoms or issues they’ll need help with. More importantly, I always wonder about the type of person who’s going to come through the door. The GPs might recognise the name and immediately recall who the patient is, who they’re related to, what they’re usually like. They have more background knowledge. I, on the other hand, have no clue what to expect.

For the most part, the consultations go well. There’ve been occasions where I would have liked a do-over. And once in a while, I’ll have a difficult consultation.

When it happens and I have an angry patient, usually male, sitting across from me (and on one occasion standing over me), I think immediately how vulnerable the situation is. I’m alone in a room, my back towards a closed door and only a corner of a desk separating me from an agitated person. On the plus side, I think to myself, the walls are thin, surely someone would come running if there was a scuffle. There’s also a safety alarm in each room. A rectangular red button encased in white plastic, is placed against the wall just underneath my computer screen. If the situation arose, I’d have to reach across to push it in full view of whoever I was afraid off. There’s nothing subtle about pressing a big red button.

Then I wonder, when would be the ideal time to press the button. I don’t want to blow a situation out of proportion, and have everyone come running from all corners of the building and descend onto my room. Embarrassing. Thankfully I haven’t needed to so far and the individual in question has eventually left. But in those situations, it’s like all my internal organs begin writhing around nervously. I feel uncomfortable and maybe, sort of threatened.

I sometimes get a twinge of discomfort when I’m supposed to go on a house visit. I might just have an active imagination. No, I know I have an active imagination which really helps me think up loads of ridiculous scenarios. For example, I don’t know if old Fred, who’s complaining of back pain, spent a part of his youth beating people up for money and has finally retired to his armchair but still has a mean left hook. At least in the practice I’m surrounded by colleagues but on a home visit, who knows what I’ll be walking into.

Like I said, active imagination.

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Another Meeting

Several weeks ago I told my supervisor I was feeling a little worn down. I wrote about it here. I was still feeling pretty disillusioned by the last 8 months in 2 bad placements. My supervisor wrapped up the meeting by asking to meet with me for another review.

Fast forward a few weeks and I sat down with her again. This time, I was in a much better head space and I was adjusting to GP. I remembered from our last meeting, she’d briefly mentioned the option of going less than full time. I already went into this meeting knowing in my head that I wanted to finish F2. But I thought it’d also be good to hear some options.

I let her know that I was feeling differently about medicine and she told me if I quit, it would all be a waste. It was the kind of encouragement I was expecting. I’ve learnt to keep my expectations low. I might have been a bit more disheartened if I genuinely thought that she may have answers for me. But from all my Googling I didn’t come up with any encouraging solution.  So again I wasn’t surprised.

I mentioned this on a different forum and someone mentioned that my educational supervisor was unlikely to be impartial. That makes sense, especially considering that I’ll also be working in her department for my last placement. Finding a locum to replace me would be hard, expensive and inconvenient.

But it just makes me wonder then, who’s looking out for me? It would be nice to discuss this with a senior colleague who genuinely cared about my best interests. I’ve found it difficult to form those types of relationships in medicine, what with the constant moving around. Even my current supervisor is new.

I’ve found a lot of comfort reading blogs online. The internal validation I get when I come across something that expresses what I feel or gives practical advice is helpful beyond belief. Which is part of the reason why I write: 1) because I enjoy it and 2) I hope someone else finds it even a little bit useful.

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Miserable Budgeting

Money is a constant source of worry for me. I’ve always seen it as a form of security and so I make a conscious effort to save and put some aside. I just think it’s a good habit to have. I wrote a post about it here.

I’m not sure what’s in store for me in the next few years; I don’t have any concrete plans in terms of what I’ll do at the end of F2. But I do know that one way I can prepare is having money saved up so that whatever I decide, I will have more control over my options. I don’t want to know how much of my salary in F1 went on carbohyrdrate-loaded canteen lunches. Avoiding things like that in F2 should make it a bit easier for me to save money.

Since the end of July, I’ve made myself a target goal of how much I want to save by the end of January 2018. And another goal for August 2018 (I love goals). It’s an ambitious amount, but I’m determined. I feel if I aim high and fall short of it, there’ll still be a good sum of money saved up.

The difficult part of budgeting, is the odd bill that pops up that you don’t expect. Like my exhaust pipe breaking off as I come off the motorway. Inconvenient, expensive and annoying as hell. I actually had to take an Uber to work to avoid being late.

Another thing I’ve found difficult is saying no to meals out and cinema etc. I love food. And most of my socialising revolves around food. It’s hard for me to think of fun things to do with friends that a) don’t involve eating out or b) that are inexpensive. So, it meant for a while, I ended up turning down a few invitations to do things, which was making me miserable. I was missing out on all the fun.

It felt like it was a cycle of work, home, work, home and then work again. All the while being starved off all of life’s joys. Confining myself to back-to-back Youtube videos of other people enjoying themselves instead. I was reading Solitary Diner‘s post on the same issue.

I realise I need a balance. I’m not prepared to make myself miserable, I have enough stresses without adding some more. I just need to figure out a way to be a bit more tactical with what  and how I spend. But so far so good.

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