Zara Aziz: GPs are experts at dealing with 'saved-up' problems

'I need to write a poem about Bristol,' said my eldest as I stumbled through the door on a Tuesday evening after work.

‘I need a new gum shield,’ said number 2 who was waiting in the wings.

'I need a poo!’ said number 3.

‘Why are you saving up all your problems for me? Only patients are allowed to do that. Where’s your Dad?’

‘He is making pasta and we always have pasta when you go to work. I have already had it at school today.’ There was a pause long enough so that we could all register the stark horror of eating the same thing TWICE in a day.

‘At least you had food. I left my pot noodle at home and have been surviving on two oranges and five cups of coffee,’ I replied.

As always it had started out as a good day, with the fine prospect of calm and quieter surgery. Until the DNAs had turned into just very late patients – the local bus had broken down and three of my patients had been on it.

Nevertheless, I had finished my evening on call on time and for once had caught up with all my outstanding paperwork, when inevitably there had been the potassium moment.

I have no evidence to prove this, but I will do a Jeremy and surmise that the lab techs deliberately ring at 6.25pm with dodgy results to torture GPs. Mrs B’s results had been called through by the lab and her potassium was 6.

Mrs B was hard of hearing and had neither transport nor veins to speak of. It made for a challenging telephone conversation at the best of times.

'You need to get your bloods repeated!’ I shouted down the line.

‘But dear I can’t possibly. I’m going to New York to see my daughter,’ she replied.

‘But there are blizzards out there! Are you sure you want to go there? Would you rather not go to your nearest A&E to get your potassium rechecked?’

‘Frankly, my dear I’ll take my chances,’ she said and slammed the phone down on me.

Several more frantic phone calls later, I was speaking to Mrs B’s daughter in London who informed me that her mother was not actually going to New York but was safely tucked up in bed in Bristol and would attend the surgery (but only in the morning) for a blood test.

I could do no more and took myself home to the saved-up problems and plate of pasta that were waiting for me.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP in Bristol

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