Christmas is a time for receiving

Christmas is almost upon us and with it comes patients bearing gifts of great variety.

It’s part of the excitement and mystery of the season. There’s the ‘wow’ gift, symbolised by the fantastic claret I received from Mrs Rather-Posh last year and shall drink on Christmas Day with enormous pleasure.

Then there’s the ‘useful’ gift, the patient equivalent of the Marks and Spencer bath set. An odour-dispersing candle or soap-on-a-rope shaped like a blood pressure monitor; it doesn’t fire your spirits but it will still serve a purpose and it is, after all, the thought that counts.

Then there are the heartstring gifts. The poem, the carefully drawn picture by a child patient of you, the doctor, tending to the poorly tummy and wearing wings and a halo. (Okay I made that up — usually I’m depicted as a wild-haired gremlin with a giant stethoscope).

Most gifts are, of course, hermetically sealed, and some were distilled north of the border and can annihilate all known germs.

But there is another sort of gift, isn’t there? The well-meant but impossible-to-enjoy gift, the giant gold plastic earrings of Christmas presents — the heartsink gift.

Invariably the patients are the sweetest souls you can imagine, and great thought has gone into the gift — yet, alas, when Mrs Fester brings in her fruit cake I know that with every mouthful I will remember when she had maggots on her legs (and they weren’t medical maggots).

Nevertheless, all gifts are symbolic of that invisible yet unbreakable bond between patient and healer, that link that makes us what we are.

So the cake will come home to sit in the pantry glowering at me, until I finally convince myself one morning that brandy soaked prunes must be sterile, eat half the thing in one sitting, develop acute indigestion and live on losec for a week. Yes, some gifts are sent to try us, but it’s Christmas, for Heaven’s sake. What else would you do?

- Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk.

You can write to her at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Practices handed one-month opt-out window as revamped network DES unveiled

Practices handed one-month opt-out window as revamped network DES unveiled

NHS England has unveiled a revamped DES package for 2020/21 confirming new targets,...

GPs delivered huge rise in face-to-face consultations in week before NHS England letter

GPs delivered huge rise in face-to-face consultations in week before NHS England letter

GPs delivered a huge increase in face-to-face appointments in the week before NHS...

RCGP facing legal action over stance on assisted dying

RCGP facing legal action over stance on assisted dying

The RCGP is facing legal action over its decision to remain opposed to assisted dying...

Medeconomics Live aims to help practices thrive under the new GP contract

Medeconomics Live aims to help practices thrive under the new GP contract

The one-day, virtual Medeconomics Live conference aims to provide practices with...

GPs face wave of abuse and complaints after NHS England face-to-face appointments claims

GPs face wave of abuse and complaints after NHS England face-to-face appointments claims

GP practices have faced a wave of abuse and complaints after a letter from NHS England...

Government denies plan to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of COVID-19 testing

Government denies plan to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of COVID-19 testing

The government has denied plans to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of the struggling COVID-19...