We should just tell people who have a funny turn: 'That's nothing, you're fine. Nuts, possibly, but fine.' But no, we rush about doing BPs and blood counts, and feeding a whole ECG industry, before telling them they're fine so long after the original incident that they'd worked it out for themselves.
I saw one in the middle of morning surgery. You've got to come now, Doris is losing it, they shouted down the phone. I knew at once that the visit would involve a middle aged semi-prone woman hyperventilating, weeping and palpitating all at the same time.
I wasn't wrong. Shakespeare could have set an entire act around the scene. When I entered the patients living room four people told me that she had 'almost passed out' several times while the patient cried weakly from the floor: 'Please don't send me to hospital'.
The patient seemed not to know what had actually happened, despite clearly being the match that lit the fuse, that picked up the phone that called the doctor — and the ambulance, as it turned out when two hunky blokes in green rushed in and shoved me aside with a defibrillator.
The neighbours either believed I'd been called because Doris looked grey or because Volde-
mort was back (this is Suffolk). They all looked at me expectantly.
Suddenly I found the courage of my convictions. I put away my stethoscope, fastened up my sphyg and brushed off the ECG machine.
'This isn't your heart Doris,' I said profoundly, '‘this is a funny turn. Have a cup of tea and come and see me tomorrow.'
Doris sat up instantly. The neighbours sighed in delight. The ambulance men choked slightly and turned purple. As a GP I had been, well, rubbish.
But everyone was happy. And three years on, Doris is still fine.
Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk. You can write to her at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com