The Perfect Consultation

As I sit and write this, two days after this consultation, it still makes me smile.

You know, for many interactions in medicine, there are fault lines which run through them – not enough time, you are tired, the condition is complicated and full of challenges that pressure you, the patient is unhappy with the plan, and so on. This is part and parcel of medicine and of being a doctor – and in fact it is those fault lines which make us learn, adapt and evolve in our practice. After-all if everything was easy we would never get better – the same way that muscle needs to be stressed in order to repair and then develop stronger and more prepared for the next insult.

Of course in all walks of life, we always welcome those instances whereby there is a nice simple event and everyone enters and leaves it happy. I had one of these on Friday.

consultation room

(The above photograph is of my current GP practice consulting room)

The last patient of the day is called into my GP consulting room. My coffee is cold as the last few patients were so challenging that I didn’t even manage the odd stealthy sip! So I am feeling a little tired now but did not expect what came next. In bounce two energetic little girls probably 5 and 9 years respectively – puzzling since I am sure the patient I am expecting is at least 40 years old – though soon rectified as I hear the mother coming up the stairs. The two little ones had clearly gotten a head start on her…and judging by their energy, I doubt that it was the first time.

As they all come through the door, I stick my hand out and shake their hands respectively, introducing myself and getting their names. The look very proper as they shake my hand with their tiny one and giggle, the youngest looking up at me like I was a giant! Then, once mum is in as well, I draw up three chairs and they all sit around me.

“Right, what can I do for you?”

The mother describes her issue with the two little girls kicking their legs away under the chair while at the same time having a fixed gaze with interest at the conversation. Before mum has finished the story, the youngest blurts out:

“I want to be a fairy when I grow up!”

I looked at the girl and said, “Well, have you been to fairy school?”. “Not yet” was the reply. You have to love a child’s imagination! I explained that in order to get into fairy school, you need to pass normal human school really well first – as they only take the cream of the crop. She nodded, taking mental note of this fact.

The consultation goes on and it as it was it turns out that the patient had nothing to be concerned about.

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up!” the older girl suddenly says – with her younger sister looked annoyed at being gazumped! I knew more about this than becoming a fairy, so…

….what followed was such a lovely 10 minutes in which I showed that little girl my stethoscope (after of course it had been thoroughly cleaned), let her listen to her mum’s heart beat with it, and showed her lots of other bits of equipment around the consulting room. This, occasionally interspersed, with conversations about fairy school and that, I had, unfortunately left my fairy wings at home today. The mother looked on with such pride at her children as they confidently chatted with me. I would have done so too if they were my children.

As this was my last patient for the day, I had no time pressures, so let hem ask me questions and explore the room to their hearts content. But when it was time to go, they both said:

“Can we come and see Dr Knight again, please mum?!!! Pleeeeaaase!”

And then on the way out the door both gave me a very unexpected hug.

There is no big medical message this week, just a recollection of a wonderful consultation that, well, melted my heart a little.

Have a great week all.

Dr Nick

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