Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Me and my GP

Yes, another side-post on when the doctor gets ill. I also wrote about the vetinary dilemma. And now, I'd like to talk about my own doctors.

The thing is: I love my current GP. Not in the wrong kind of way... just in the way that she's really good. I don't want to be with her, I want to watch her and learn. (That, of course, won't work). In my time as a medical student I've witnessed and experienced enough GP's to know that you have bad ones, average ones, and good ones. A good GP is worth their weight in round brilliant cut diamonds. Patients often see their GP as 'their' doctor, and trust them, often more than they trust the specialists. (Statement may not apply in all countries) Specialists often complain about GP's, usually about 'daft' referrals. The thing is: on average, a GP refers 10% of their patients. Specialists forget that the GP handles the remaining 90% themselves. A reason for referral could be: I don't know what to do with this. Yes, that does sound daft on a referral letter.

(But, honestly, still, if you can't read an ECG, don't make one, dear GPs who refer to cardio unit)

Dr G1 was my GP when we first moved here. I had to switch GPs when I went to university, and registered with dr W. I never saw him/her. Then I moved out of their 'service area' (GP has to be able to get to you in 15mins in case of emergency), and registered with dr G2 and her colleague dr M. Recently I moved back, and was re-registered with dr G1. Because the rest of the family are registered with her.

Dr G2 is an older GP. She went to medical school in the days when it was a big deal for a woman to go to medical school, and trained before my university even existed. I liked her. She knew I was a med student. I think she probably had a few med students in her practice. She also was really good about my eating disorder; without judging me. I read my notes when I switched GP's recently, including a rather enthusiastic bit about me finally gaining weight. Dr M doesn't know about my status as a medical student, and she seemed to have a bit of an edge about her. One day, when the surgery was really quiet, I ended up chatting about shoes with her. Human after all. Quite a contrast with the time I ended up in a discussion with her about what's in Nexium. (Esomeprazole, for those who wondered, and for those who think it's the same as omeprazole, go review secondary school chemistry)

Dr G1 is probably slightly younger than my parents, although she looks ageless. She has a sort of energy around her. Interestingly enough, she still knew who I was, 7 years after I last saw her. It's in the little things, really. The way she takes into account individual things; such as my cultural background. The way she obviously loves her job. Her attention to detail, and the fact that she's on top of things. Or at least, the things I came to her with. She knew that the Nuvaring could cause the problems I had, for example, but maybe just because her patients are on average 20 years younger than Dr M's. She also quickly revisited the entire situation around my lactose intolerance and stomach problems, and did not just write me a prescription like the other 2 did. Suggested I see a nutritionist after my holiday.
She recently started training new GP's. Good thing. You want the good ones to teach.

None of my doctors were ever annoyed with me being a medical student, thus a notoriously difficult patient. I'm not a difficult patient, I respect their seniority. Also, I'm not one for medical student hypochondria. I've suffered enough real drama, don't need the pretend.

Gynaecologist (I wanted a mirena for period pain, ended up not getting one): Have you done your rotations yet?
Me: Yes
Gynae: So what do YOU think about this pain?
Me: Probably just primary dysmennorhoea...
Gynae: What about endometriosis?
Me: Well, I hope not....
Gynae: laughs. 

Anyway. The only other doctor I've seen was my psychiatrist. I used to be a little nutty, remember? I was severely depressed a few years ago, and basically this man made a huge difference for me. I wouldn't know how he is with other patients. All I know is that he took me seriously when others didn't. He didn't get lost on labels like 'chronic'. I'm also forever grateful that he didn't admit me to the psych institution when I was at my lowest. He said that specific place would not be a good place for me. Later on, when I got to know that place, I had to agree. He really contributed to the fact that I am where I am today, against all odds. I owe him a picture of my graduation.

Look, mental illness can happen to anyone. Thinking that it might not happen to you, or that you are above such mushy mushy things, might only make you more susceptible and less treatable. That means those around you suffer too. I'm pretty honest about my past.

And I don't think having that past makes me less of a doctor. On the contrary; I have life experience which I can use to be a better doctor (than I would otherwise have been). Statistically I have a higher recurrence risk than somebody who never suffered from anything. (For instance, statistically, I have a 70% depression relapse risk. I also have a 30% chance of remaining healthy... I tend to focus more on that bit). On the other hand, having learned to take care of myself both mentally and physically is proving invaluable in a demanding career with a rather high suicide rate. I am not the only one. I personally know a few doctors who have dealt with depression and told me about it.

I do think the relationship between you and your own doctor changes when you're in medical school; particularly towards the end. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. It's such a marvellous profession though: everybody needs doctors at some point in their lives; even the doctors themselves.

1 comment:

  1. General practice is so admirable, but so many want to chase the money and specialize these days creating a shortage of good GP docs.