How things used to be…. (and not that long ago)
So, I made a considered decision to take some time off to focus on me over the Christmas. Typically, what happens when you suddenly remove yourself from the pressured of a fast paced life, happened. I became ill. I was gifted with a virus that knocked me for six and is still lingering 10 days later.
It was a moment I had been dreading, but invariably knew it would come. A virus where the relief provided by paracetamol and a hot toddy (brandy based) would be the only things to provide comfort. Unfortunately neither were options for me. My liver is anti-paracetamol and as for brandy, that would not be welcome either.
Needless to say, I battled through with ibuprofen substitutes (3 x the price for decongestant relief) and Twining’s Lemon and Ginger infusions. The hot water bottle, new Christmas PJ’s and a snuggly duvet (supplied by mum) all aided to the comfort I craved.
With no energy and feeling very sorry for myself, I found myself settled on the sofa watching quite a mixed genre of television. Somehow, I managed to locate a favourite TV series from my past. It was a serial drama centred on a village GP Practice in Derbyshire’s Peak District in the late 1990’s – Peak Practice. As I watched episode after episode, I was amazed that many of the storylines were familiar to me. Probably because, whilst a drinker, I was still in control at this time and actually watched and absorbed the content. It was also fun to see familiar actors and actresses in their younger years. Amanda Burton, Sarah Parish, Ann Reid and even Eileen from Coronation Street! The scenery was stunning and the cast did extremely well in being able to recite their lines after walking up many steep hills!
I accept that this was a fictional TV series, however what really hit me was how things have changed.
This group of GP’s were part of the community. They lived in the village; they drank in the local pub; they took part in the village events and became involved with community matters. Most importantly, they knew their fellow villagers and they cared. Their patients were real people to them and in many cases, friends.
The GP’s were approachable at the surgery and outside of the surgery. They would see a patient if they turned up in distress or worried about something. They would go the extra mile and make visits, often unannounced if worried or concerned. They would follow through on people’s treatment, even if it meant working out of hours, or making a detour to the hospital if a patient had been admitted. They would do home visits. They even worked in collaboration with the medical staff at the hospital.
I know times have moved on and to be fair the programme does reflect some of those changes. The pressures of costs and the continuation of on call cover were well portrayed. I also am not naive enough to think that creative license to make good watching wasn’t used. I don’t know, but would imagine that there is probably a marked difference in city and village experiences. However, I was brought up and had my children in Portsmouth and I remember similar behaviour from the GP’s of that time.
Last year and maybe even the year before that, when I was really in need, I became just a number. I was one of many and one with self-inflicted issues. Another patient on a long list to be processed and moved on in the quickest and most seemingly efficient way possible. I have touched on my experiences in previous posts. We cannot live in the past. The pressure on the NHS is evident every day. I cannot help but wonder what a difference it would have made to me if I had, been living in the past in my time of need that is.
So, what would have been different if I had lived in “Cardale”? My withdrawal from the community would have been noticed. My buying habits would have been picked up by the local store. My consumption of alcohol at social events will have been noted. My GP would have paid me a visit. I would have without a doubt had all the support I needed. I would have had somewhere to go. I would have been amongst friends with fellow villagers looking out for me. I may not have got to the extreme state I found myself in February 2017.
But there again maybe the outcome would have been the same. I will never know,
It feels very sad that we now live in such a fast-paced, pressured society. There are growing numbers of patients and tightening resources. I also very much admire the tireless work done by the majority of the medical profession. You rarely get to see your allocated GP, that is if you can get an appointment. You most certainly can’t turn up out of the blue and hope to see your GP. Home visits, not sure that they happen now. It’s more walk in centres or 111. I fear people are turning up at A&E or calling an ambulance out of desperation. Worst still, vulnerable people who just give up and give up un-noticed. I just wonder, is there a false economy there somewhere?
This is not a post of judgment at all. This is just a reflection of how the years have changed how things happen. Amongst those changes, there are also many extremely positive things.