Post 47 The Doctor and the Car Mechanic

Brian was in his fifties and recovering from a heart attack but he also had mitral valve disease and was an ideal patient for teaching students. He enjoyed being the subject and the centre of attention. I introduced him to a group of undergraduate students and took them through the basics of history taking before getting on to clinical examination and auscultation of the heart.

Before being discharged, he told me that he was grateful for the care he had been given, that he ran a local garage and that if my car ever needed attention, I should take it to him. A month or two later, my elderly Renault was clearly in need of attention so I made an appointment and took it to Brian. He took the car into his workshop and offered me a coffee. After about half an hour he came back, a smile on his face.

‘Do you remember teaching those students with me?’ he asked.

‘I do, we went through your story and they listened to your heart,’ I said.

‘What impressed me,’ he continued, ‘was when you were talking about history taking, you emphasised how important it was to talk to patients in a manner they could understand.’

I nodded and accepted the compliment.

‘Do you understand about engines, Doc?’ he continued.

‘No, not really.’

His smile broadened and he took my hands in mock caring fashion.

‘I’m so sorry, Doc,’ he said, ‘to be the bearer of sad news, but your car’s fucked.’

This reminiscence by Dr Peter Barnes is taken from ’The Class of ‘61’ which reflects on the lives of the young men and women who joined the Manchester Medical School as ‘freshers’ in 1961.  It is available from Amazon.

If you enjoyed this short story, you will also enjoy reading ‘All in a Doctor’s Day’, a collection of 45 short stories all with a medical flavour. Its available as a paperback or Kindle.
 The stories lift the lid on the good, the bad and the ugly that I have experienced working for 40 years in the NHS. 
Some of these stories will make you laugh, a few may make you cry and others have a surprising kick in the tail.
 They feature patients, nurses and doctors, blood sweat and toil, life and death, heartache and joy.


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