Liam Farrell: My cunning plan to make patients less remote

The doctor-patient relationship ain't what it used to be. It's not just that we are different from lay people; we know where the bodily organs are and they don't, and we are a bigger hit with the girls.

Dealing with this is one of the perks of the job, learning how to Put People At Their Ease without overt and offensive condescension should be a core element of the registrar year. (I consider myself so good at Putting People At Their Ease that it represents further and surely conclusive evidence that I have more than a touch of royal blood. I have never disclosed this before, but my Auntie Mamie once told me my family was descended from the King of the Fairies. Quite how reliable this information was I don't know - Auntie Mamie was a bit strange. One of our childhood mysteries was why Auntie Mamie and Uncle Podge were never seen in the same room, at the same time.)

No, there is a new confounding factor involved; things started to go bad with the introduction of the remote control. Mere coincidence? I think not. Time was when a doctor's visit was an important occasion but such is the growing resentment that a warm welcome nowadays is one were the TV is briefly and grudgingly turned down, and I am usually forced to assert my authority by seizing the remote and switching off the TV myself, disregarding the outrage of the bystanders who may now face six whole hours to find out whether Kylie survived her gender reassignment surgery. This might be considered a rather aggressive, even penetrative act and not conducive to a therapeutic relationship, but nor is trying to elicit nystagmus while the patient has their eyes glued on Kylie's new and admittedly impressive bosom.

I have a plan - distract everyone's attention by inflating a series of balloon figures, dogs, cats, seminal vesicles and so on, then let all the air out simultaneously, and while the family are joyously chasing the balloons around the house, surreptitiously hide the remote (down the back of the sofa is a safe bet), or maybe tuck it away in a book (kryptonite to soap addicts).

And maybe, the ultimate compliment, I'll get an accusing call: 'Doctor, did you take our remote?'


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