Doctor’s visit.

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Years ago  doctors knew their patients. They were called the house doctor. Often they were familiar with the history of ailments or afflictions of the whole family, even to the point of signing off the patient’s death certificate when good health expired and finality had sunk in.

It seems that conversations of people over sixty concentrate on ailments. And as the years go by, increases in volume and intensity. “How is your knee”, I asked a fellow bowler who told me last week he is trying to lose weight. “The less weight above my knees, the better”, he answered. “I ease up on sugar too”, he added. I mumbled something encouraging. Losing weight is what I fought all my life. Even now, I’m still trying to gain weight.

I had to see the doctor last week. A yearly driver’s license physical test is compulsory over 75 years of age. I made an appointment. The secretary told me it would be with Dr Cao. I never heard of him. I never see the same doctor twice. Some new rotating musical chairs is now being played in most Medical Centres. The same experience with my wife. A different doctor each time. House doctors change and go elsewhere, or travel to Italy.

Dr Cao, asked me when I last had a colonoscopy. I did not think renewing a driver’s license would involve bowel searching. He was peering at the computer screen. Most doctors do that. Government health funding allows just a few minutes turn-over per patient. There are no exchanges of pleasantries. The patients’ health records are now downloaded on the computer.  Dr Cao had a nurse checking my vision. One of my eyes is dodgy. I make a point of checking the bottom row of letters after walking in the nurse’s eye chart room. This year she caught me out. “You are not checking the letters, are you”? She said somewhat crabby. I mumbled something incoherent. The prior reference to a colonoscopy  did not boost my confidence. The last colonoscopy At Concord Hospital, NSW nearly ended up in me having an hysterectomy. The name-tag on my wrist had Mrs Mary Overton on it.

I passed my eye test and Dr Cao filled in the form including details of any fainting spells, heart problem, alcoholism, fits of depression or excessive feelings of joy/ exuberance. Dr Cao signed it but did it with a barely repressed sigh. The signed form I took to the NSW Road and Motor transport who renewed my license for another year.  It can’t be easy to be a Doctor. There is little connection now. The patient just sits there. With luck they have showered and the b o hopefully absent. The computer asks for attention and details have to be entered. Not very personal. And then the patients waft their germs and bacteria all over you. I think a bus driver would be nice. Buses often are places of laughter. People also laugh more in supermarkets and at marriage ceremonies.

Doctors’ waiting rooms too need cheering up.

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29 Responses to “Doctor’s visit.”

  1. leggypeggy Says:

    Bummer. A recent program on ‘Life Matters’ talked about improving communication by doctors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Improving everyone’s communications would be even better. Many patients are rather glum. Oddly enough, the cancer clinic that we visited in Campbelltown was often very lively. So was the staff. You could make a coffee or tea, There were biscuits and books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn Thaler Says:

    That sounds horrible. I would hate having to see a different doctor for each visit. Also, how did you get mistaken for Mary Overton. You don’t really look like a Mary. Just saying……

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right, Lynn. I don’t look like Mary. A cursory look behind the gown would also confirm my sex.
      Even so, to get the wrong wrist-tag was alarming.
      The cheese and ham sandwich afterwards was so nice.

      Like

  3. auntyuta Says:

    “Doctors’ waiting rooms too need cheering up.”
    Do they now? Luckily we have your very humorous blogs to read, Gerard, to cheer us up. I seldom talk to people in waiting rooms unless they talk to me first. I guess Peter and I are lucky to have been able to see the same General Practitioner over many years. When our doctor moved from Dapto to a new Medical Centre in Corrimal, we followed him there. It is of course a bit further away for we live in Dapto, but there is a motorway straight to Corrimal. Peter loves to drive on that motorway. It takes him only about 15 minutes to get to the new Medical Centre that is very spacious and nicely furnished. A lot of specialists reside on the same premises and even a pharmacist is right there. We find this very convenient!
    Thanks Gerard, for cheering me up with your writing. I’m glad you got your license renewed for another year. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Uta. I hope both you and Peter are well and I noticed your blog is going again. They are building new and modern Medical Centres all over the place. People getting older is the new economy. I noticed that medical care is now in need of more staff than any other industry.
      Helvi just told me we have 5 appointments this week alone, including blood tests. Many of those involve ‘specialists’. That then involves getting a referral from the house doctor. But…with regular visits to the same specialist. Why the need for a new referral each time? Is the Medical Industry feather nesting?
      I don’t understand Private Health insurance either. Apparently you pay more when insured than when you are not insured. We never had private health insurance. I suppose a relic from the past Dutch health system.

      Like

      • auntyuta Says:

        Medical appointments keep us very busy too. I don’t understand either why new referrals are needed all the time. I am blind in one eye. There are cataracts on my good eye as well as on the blind one. Recently my vision has quite a bit deteriorated. So I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, and I went to see her last week. She suggested to have a cataract operation on my good eye. She gave me forms to fill in and to send them off to the hospital. I can expect to be on the waiting list for 12 months. I still have not finished filling in all the details on the forms. Last Sunday we had a good day in Sydney with Monika and Mark. After visiting the Prince Henry Nursing and Medical Museum at Little Bay, Mark drove us to IKEA in Tempe and we picked up three large boxes containing a Corner Sofa Bed that Monika and Mark want to assemble for us tonight after their work.
        Peter has only 3 medical appointments this week.
        Today our son-in-law turns 50, He is at present in Berlin with our daughter Caroline. They return to Australia on the 17th. On the 18th the whole family is going to meet at Matthew’s daughter’s place for a belated 50th birthday celebration. We hope you have a very good day today, Gerard. We would like to say cheers with a glass of bubbly!! Cheers to Helvi too and a pat for Milo. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        It is baffling, isn’t it, Uta?
        We just had a call from the hospital where Helvi is seeing the specialist tomorrow. The specialist himself made the appointment a couple of months ago. Even though the specialist made the appointment she still needs a referral from her general practitioner for the appointment which had already been made by the specialist.
        It is enough to drive one to cricket…

        Ikea in Tempe is very large. You are supposed to follow the footsteps printed on the floor. They cunningly make you traipse through acres of consumables. It’s murderously long. Last time we were there some of the elderly people had abandoned all hope and were laying about on the beds, matrasses and sofas that were for sale.

        At the very end we used to revive ourselves with a hotdog with German mustard for just $1.-

        Liked by 1 person

  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    The doctor thing is probably abut the same every where. Here, in my home state there seems to be plenty of MDs when canvassing the phone book. But if one happens to have their MD retire as mine did then it is no easy feat to try to find a doctor that is personable and competent. My MD retired in May and I then needed to call around to find out who was taking new patients. I found one that specializes in geriatrics better known as supposed to be well versed in what ails old people. Anyhow, my new MD is a Dr. Perry/. He is ok but far from my former doctor. One could say that we are lucky here Texas when it comes to physicians. I see the same doctor each visit. There is no luck of the draw.

    I’m sure that you are happy to have passed all your health checks and that you were approved to drive. I would be miserable if I were not capable to drive. I enjoy driving and it does aid the reflexes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi had very nice house doctors so far, always female. They generally took more time and were thorough. I rarely see a doctor and don’t mind getting it over with quickly.

      My series of colonoscopies was years ago. You had to fast one whole day and night, worse, you had to drink a mixture that made you go to the toilet like a seagull on cooked spinach.

      Even so, despite all the attention to detail, I was given a name tag around my wrist with the wrong sex and name. To tell the difference is not rocket science!

      I remember struggling with putting a gown on with back open and tying the strings. You then had the undignifying ,walk the planks, past many patients to hop into you bed and wait for hours for the ‘procedure’.

      How are you travelling, Ivonne? Hope things are alright. Texas must be hot now and dry.

      Like

  5. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    Hi Gez.
    Boy, I know what you are saying about contemporary doctors.

    For the years between 4 and 19 I had just one GP. As a kid I used to get asthma and those were the days before Ventolin – so life was very risky and more than once I was rushed off to Bankstown Hospital.

    Our GP was a lovely old guy – a Polish Jew who fled the Nazis and set up in our little western Sydney hamlet – after working for a few years on NSW Railways until he requalified in Australia. Which was a typically insular Australian requirement since he had had his own mental health institute in Warsaw. That, is he was a specialist.
    He used to just drop in at our place to check up on me. And he never billed my folks.

    He was and will ever remain the gold standard in GPs. I visited him every Saturday for an allergy desensitisation injection – for two years and when I was 12 my asthma stopped.

    Since then I have gone through the usual procession of GPs – mostly good but not like Dr Kline.

    In the last five years of life in the Inner West, I have enjoyed the services of just one and a half GPs.

    The main one – I’ll call him Charlie- does require a booking but he never hurries and he always comes up with rational and conservative approach. He has a lovely funny bedside manner and he does follow-up phone calls after hours.

    The other guy, I see for not-important stuff like fresh drugs or vaccinations – only if Charlie is a bit booked out. Both of these guys are honours grads from Sydney and like my daughter, Charlie has an advanced Science undergrad degree as well as his postgrad med degree (also Honours).

    Charlie does other stuff than what I came to see him for as well. He knows what to expect when guys get as old as us, but he starts with a PSA blood test and an ultrasound rather than just diving in – as we say.

    So the old fashioned GP isn’t dead. I see one. And I raised one too. Emlett 1 is a country GP in the making .

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, doctor services have changed, Trouserzoff.

      A year ago or so, an elderly doctor who himself was seated on a wheelchair referred me to a neurologist with a letter saying Mr Oosterman shows signs of aphasia and indecision. I could not believe it and all I wanted was a new script for my hypothyroidism.
      I did not go to the neurologist. I felt so much better.

      Glad to hear your litter is doing so well and moving to relieve and improve the medical standards.

      I too remember a Hungarian refugee who worked as a process worker at Scanlan Electrics in Mascot un the late 1950’s. He was a medical Doctor but qualifications from foreign speaking countries were then not recognized.

      Like

  6. Andrew Says:

    Like Yvonne I face the prospect sooner or later if my 2 doctors retiring. Both are approaching 70. They have looked after me for 12 years and even when we lived in Britain for 2 years I would see them whenever we were back in HK. In Britain I had a good GP but seeing him specifically often meant a wait if a week or so. Happily we were not frequent visitors. In HK many people buy insurance and see a doctor privately. It is expensive but the tax rate here is only 15% so can choose how to spend your higher take home income and private medical care is a popular choice. Where I will go when the 2 Johns retire I have no idea 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    None of this is funny…but you made me laugh! 😀 I’m so glad you did NOT get a hysterectomy! They’re a bummer! 😉 Getting the wrong wristband is definitely alarming! 😮 😦

    I only have three doctors…My family doctor, my groan…er…groin…er gynecologist, and my oncologist. The first two are women in their 40’s, the last one is a man in his 60s. The first two have been my doctors for 10 years. And the last one for 3 years. I have hugged all of them…they are kind, gentle, and take time to talk to me, etc…I really appreciate them! 🙂 I always go into an appointment with a joke to tell them. 🙂

    Who knew a person had to go through all that you did, just to get to drive another year. Wow. Glad you survived and got your license renewed.

    HUGS!!! 🙂
    PS…at my colonoscopy a few years ago, the doc said I had the colon of a 20 year old…and I am way older than 20 years old! (But, in my heart, I AM only 20! 😉 ) The doc said I didn’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years! Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A colon of a twenty year old!. That is remarkable, Carolyn.
      We ought to be appreciative of dentist and colonoscopy doctors. What drives one to study those professions?

      One could ask that about many jobs. What about an undertaker? Do you wake up in the morning with a spring in your step and say ; ‘I have got a nice funeral today and collect kindling to heat up the cremation oven?’

      One of the nicest jobs Helvi and I enjoyed very much was running a flower shop ‘Bloomsbury.’ Each morning I used to go to the flower market to stock up at 5am, six days a week. People and flowers are a good combination

      Liked by 1 person

  8. jennypellett Says:

    It’s the same the world over, so it seems. I’ve recently read a very comedic book written by a former junior doctor, outlining his first two years working in a hospital. The frightening thing is, the book was complied from all the reflective journaling new doctors are required to record. The hours these guys are expected to work (and do) and the abuse they receive from patients and their families makes one wonder why anyone is left in the profession. This author got away. He now tours the stand up comedy circuit and is currently playing the Edinburgh Fringe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Jenny. I suppose it must be hard to put up with cranky patients. I lately noticed that many surgeries have notices that aggressive abusive language and behaviour will not be tolerated.
      So many people are on prescription drugs that are addictive.
      On the other hand I suppose medical world can and does lend itself to humour.

      Like

  9. Julia Lund Says:

    “The last colonoscopy At Concord Hospital, NSW nearly ended up in me having an hysterectomy. The name-tag on my wrist had Mrs Mary Overton on it.” 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I was so lucky. Of course in the old day it was easier. You had male and female sex. Now they discover it is not so simple with transgender and other varieties of sexes. There is now a fight going on which toilets to use for those less fixed in their gender genetics.

      During busy musical open air festivals the male toilets were used by females. Queues at female toilets are always longer. It just takes one brave woman to start going in the male toilet and dozens follow all giggling in the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    It must be terrible being a doctor and knowing that many of your patients’ problems come from excesses of some kind: too much eating, alcohol, smoking, sugar and so on. Doctors must feel like they are talking to brick walls sometimes. The other side of the coin…just thought I’d mention it. I’m not including you in that group, Gerard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      That is true. Many are sick as a result of the much sought after lifestyle. Did you watch the ‘sugar conspiracy’ documentary?
      In Holland the parents of children at risk of obesity ( and resulting illnesses) get visited by qualified medical staff to try and teach good dietary habits. In Japan, obese people are asked to visit a doctor. It is world wide and sugar is the main culprit.
      The sugar industry will put billions into fighting any reduction of sugar into a tax or penalising sugar.

      Like

      • janesmudgeegarden Says:

        I think the amount of food people eat has some bearing on the matter too.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        That is true, Jane.

        In Australia the plates of food are direct copies from the US. Enormous portions. Large overweight people at the food courts grazing out of those polystyrene boxes.

        Enormous jaws chewing their cud, hardly able to get out of their seats afterwards. The size of their soft drinks loaded with sugar. And this government unwilling to put in a sugar tax.

        It works in those countries that have introduced sugar tax.

        Like

  11. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    You describe it all so well Gerard. Many years ago our pediatrician came to the house! We had the same primary care doctor for years until he retired. We were lucky to be “taken on” by a new one who seems OK. The trouble is, the primary only listens and then send you to whoever knows more about what is wrong with you. I have several extra ones, Dr. A remains stalwart and upright with just the primary. Lucky we all have a sense of humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Kayti. Referrals to specialists are now very normal. We had to buy more fridge magnets. The fridge door is now groaning with all the doctor and specialist appointments. Is it some conspiracy?

      We sometimes are so dizzy and confused. The spin we are all in.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. shoreacres Says:

    I have such fond memories of our family doctor from when I was a kid. He made house calls, and always brought me a lollypop when he came. I was fairly healthy, although I had pneumonia once, and landed in the hospital with that. Otherwise, it was allery shots to get rid of my hay fever, and that was about it.

    The oddest and most tragic doctor story I know happened here in Houston recently. A friend’s mother was a patient of cardiologist Mark Hausknecht. She’s gone now, but she thought he was the best doctor in the world. He was murdered recently — shot while riding his bicycle through the medical center, by a man whose mother had died on the operating table — twenty years ago. That’s a long time to carry a grudge. The fellow who shot Dr. Hausknecht ended up shooting himself as well. Tragic story, and a reminder that the doctors have some things to cope with, too.

    Like

  13. gerard oosterman Says:

    Up till the seventies, house visits by doctors were normal. When you were sick you called the doctor. He had a special bulging bag that had clasps at both sides.

    He, or sometimes a she, would sit on the edge of your bed and take you pulse while at the same time put an ice cream wooden paddle stick to the back of your tongue and ask you to say ‘aaaahhh.’

    The strongest medication our mum gave us was an aspirin split in half. Now kids are put on Mogodon and other barbiturates.

    The doctor that got shot; what a horrible end.

    Like

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