Post 14 Doctor quickly regrets stealing from patient

Dr Andrew Jackson knew that the staff at the High Grove Medical Practice regarded him as being old fashioned but he didn’t care; in fact, the knowledge rather pleased him.  He wasn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd.   The truth was that he hadn’t taken kindly to the changes that his younger colleagues had introduced in recent years.   Of course, as senior partner he could have prevented them had he chosen to do so, but knowing that they would be running the surgery for years after he had gone, he had allowed them a free rein.

He liked to reminisce about the days when he had more time to spend with patients, a time when life was lived at a slower pace.   He hated the computer that now sat on his desk; how could he possibly give his whole attention to his patients when he had to have half an eye on the screen?  And was he really expected to learn to type at his age?   He resented the bureaucracy, the form filling, the targets and the endless ‘top down’ imperatives that now ruled his life.   And he cursed all those courses he had to attend; courses on audit, equality, governance, algorithms, health and safety, fire regulations and those wretched seminars on good communication.   What a waste of time.  Where had common sense gone?   What could they tell him about communication that he hadn’t practised every day for the last thirty five years?

And why did everyone now call him ‘Andy’?   With hindsight, he realised that he ought to have insisted that his partners called him ‘Andrew’ and that the staff address him as ‘Dr Jackson’.   He sighed.   It was too late now of course; he would just have to accept it until he retired.   Fortunately, he didn’t have long to wait.

In the meantime he would do the things that he enjoyed best, which was spending time with his patients.   Fortunately, caring for the old folk, or ‘chronics’ as they were sometimes but unkindly referred to, was a job that others avoided, so he had been pleased to take on the task.   That was why he now found himself in the warden controlled flat belonging to Mary Taggart, an elderly lady whom he had known for many years.   He had cared for her husband when he had been dying with lung cancer and over the years he’d delivered her daughter and two of her grandchildren.   Now she was less of a patient and more of an old friend and he was there to comfort her as she struggled with arthritis, diabetes and early dementia.

“Hello again Mary,” he said as he let himself in.  “And how are we today?”

Mary was sitting as usual in her easy chair, a small table at her side on which were the items that formed the basis of her day; the morning newspaper, a library book, the remains of a cup of tea, a packet of sweets, a bowl of peanuts and an ashtray containing the butts of numerous cigarettes.  Guiltily, she covered the ashtray with the paper when Dr Jackson entered but not before she had been spotted. In fact the smell of stale cigarettes permeated the carpets and hung heavily from the curtains  so her efforts were entirely in vain.

Mary brightened the moment she saw her visitor.

“Much the same as always, Doctor but thank you for asking,” she said.

Dr Jackson accepted that no medical decisions would be made in the next fifteen minutes and that his partners would consider he was wasting his time, but he knew that for Mary, his visit would make this a special day.

“Still being a naughty girl, I see.”

Dr Jackson smiled as he spoke, he knew full well that to chide Mary or to give her a lecture on the dangers of smoking would  be a waste of his time and would have no effect whatsoever!

“I’m so glad you’ve come, Doctor, I’ve something special to show you.”

With difficulty, she rose from her chair and, using her walking frame, pottered to the sideboard.   She began rummaging in one of the drawers.

As Dr Jackson waited patiently for her to return he noticed the peanuts.   He glanced to see that Mary’s back was turned and helped himself to a couple.  They were the plain, non salted ones that he preferred.   Better for me, he thought to himself, too much salt is bad for my hypertension.

“Dear, dear, now where can that photo be,” Mary muttered to herself.  “Perhaps it’s next door.”

Slowly Mary limped into the bedroom and while she was out of the room, the doctor helped himself to a few more nuts; then a few more when he heard Mary shuffling about in the adjacent room.

“Look,” Mary said, when she finally returned, “a picture of Lisa, my granddaughter in her robes on her degree day.  She qualified as a doctor last week.  Such a clever girl; I’m so proud of her.  Do you remember the day you delivered her?   You had to fight your way through a snow storm to get there.   Look, she’s so grown up now.

Now somewhere I’ve got a photo of her as a baby.   I’m sure you’ll want to see that too, Doctor, to see how much she’s grown.”

She toddled off again giving Dr Jackson time to help himself to a few more nuts.  Then, to his horror he realised that the bowl was now nearly empty.   The chances were that Mary, despite being somewhat forgetful and having poor eyesight, would notice.

Mary returned with another photo, this time of her granddaughter as a bonny, year old baby.

“Look how she’s changed, Doctor.  I can’t believe that she’s done so well.”

Dr Jackson admired the two photos, agreeing that Lisa had changed enormously.   He could understand Mary’s pride and asked that his congratulations be passed on to Lisa before adding, “Look, Mary, I’m afraid that I’ve a confession to make.   I’ve eaten a few of your peanuts.   I’ll bring another packet for you next time I come.”

 “Oh, Doctor, there’s no need for you to bother.   My daughter brings me a new packet each week.   She knows how much I like them. But since I lost my teeth, I just suck the chocolate off then throw the nuts away.” 
Quotation for the day

Opportunity makes a thief,                             13th century proverb

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Extract from a doctor’s letter: She is troubled with occasional constant infrequent headaches.


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