Zara Aziz: When a patient made me forget I had a case of the 'Januaries'

It was an innocuous sort of day when I arrived at work last week - the sun was out, spring flowers were strangely in bloom and all seemed outwardly well with the world. Nevermind that I still felt somewhat sluggish after the excesses of Christmas and New Year.

I had a case of the ‘Januaries’ but then so did everyone else. It was time to face the reality that I had a job, a mortgage and patients who had missed me whilst I had been away (well probably). The car park and waiting room was starting to get busy as I waddled past the throng.

Betty was first up that morning. Usually one to ask for home visits she had surprised me by coming in - perhaps a new year sign of things to come. She was holding onto her stick as she limped slowly into the room and settled into the seat. As usual she looked immaculate and sported a new hairstyle of soft powder blue curls.

‘You look well,’ I began.

You can’t hurry Betty along and she does not mince her words. ‘So do you,’ she eyed me up and down. ‘Been enjoying the mince pies, have you?’ She tutted disapprovingly.

She sounded just like my Mum and I shuffled uncomfortably in my seat and looked out of the window - it had started to rain and the sun was playing hide and seek behind some dark clouds.

‘I want some stronger tablets for my knees - the co-codamol is not working. I have an important event to go to next week and want my knees sorted by then. Give me everything you've got.’

In her youth Betty had been an accomplished dancer - a dangerous thought entered my head.

‘You are not going dancing are you? I really don’t think that’s a good idea with your joints.’ Betty may be sprightly, but she is 89 after all.

'Of course not. What at my age!’ She laughed.

‘I was going up to the hospital to join the picket with the doctors. It’s what my Arthur would have wanted. Are you coming?’

Humans will never cease to surprise me.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP in Bristol

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