A day in my life… well apart from falling out of bed, grabbing a coffee on the run, and putting my pumps and lipstick on so that the rest of the world can feel I ‘have it together’ (even I’m a little more convinced when I see the reflection in the mirror!) …

….I also consulted with several young women in various stages of emotional and/or social development – about work or chronic health problems, or weight problems, or medicals needed for army training (and then discussed why they refuse spacers with their inhalers).

A simple gynae problem (our second consult) turned into the fact that my young patient’s stillbirth, occurring eight months ago, had not been further discussed with her and no postmortem results forwarded to her.  I wonder where are all those follow-up notes on this tragedy? None at all in her inbox or files.

A flick on to the nurse for Depo-Provera® and then a call back to me, “Did I know she had seriously considered suicide last week?” I’m seeing her again tomorrow for a 30-minute consult. She’ll keep herself safe until then (whew).

A woman who hit her head four weeks ago when the dogs tripped her on the beach – highly functioning, running her business, huge amounts of energy –  is struck down with

intractable and terrible headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, tearfulness. The urgent CT scan was normal… and I’m relieved… but it’s no comfort to her at all! A wade through the referral pathways for concussion post-head injury and our 15 minutes is well and truly gone… we agreed she’ll see me again soon for further discussion.

Then there’s the gent who’s alert and lively and just coming for a driving license renewal at 75 years (a comprehensive medical – akin to an insurance medical check – in 15 minutes?!).

Physically he checks out pristine, but there’s something odd – evasive almost – about his conversation approaches. So I dig a little further… 0/3 road signs recognised but elaborate descriptions of what they remind him of (nothing to do with driving!). I suspect undiagnosed frontal lobe dementia – back to the RN for a MoCA (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) which comes back 13/30!

The staff and family up in arms because I have said “no further driving for now”, and then begins the damage control with upset family and staff who are certain this must be an error.

Less than a quarter of my consulting day described above. I forgot the youngish gent with CAP (community acquired pneumonia), just starting to decompensate, that I admitted to our adjacent community hospital – that was a 15-minute appointment too.

My paid locum work time finished 90 minutes ago… I’ve been doing ‘patient-related paperwork’… and I can hear my colleague chatting to the cleaner next door… why the hell am I even bothering to write this?

But I love my work. It’s an incredible privilege. And I guess I would just like to let you know that.

I’m still wearing my super comfy pumps… more lipstick on now and I’m about to rush to the local community music committee meeting. Text hubby on the way that I won’t be home for dinner after all.

Good night.

The author was a Waikato/Bay of Plenty GP who contributed her story to the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ A Day in the Life of a Kiwi GP project to mark this year’s recent World Family Doctor Day celebration. It is republished with the permission of the College.

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