Then I set about writing a story in letter form. Since I had so recently composed the above mentioned article, I decided to utilise some of it in the letter. This sort of thing saves on brain power and I’m all for saving what’s left of mine. This is what I ended up with.
The waiting area felt summer warm although in December one would expect otherwise. There was also a smell of lavender, possibly sprayed when the room was devoid of people or, more likely, the scent worn by a female patient. A small overhead radio, set to provide music, was responsible for a lot of toe tapping in tempo. One elderly bearded gent grinned as he rapped his knuckles against his walking stick before breaking out in a shrill whistle. Next to him was an old lady in a grey coat with hair to match. Probably his wife, I thought, noticing the way she frowned.
There were only four chairs, three occupied by men and a fourth by the aforesaid old lady. I could understand the old guy next to her not standing up to give me a seat but there was no excuse for the other two. Women’s libbers have a lot to answer for, don’t you think? I couldn’t even get to sort through the books even if I’d wanted to.
A peal of laughter filtered out from the doctor’s room. Someone, it sounded like a man, was enjoying the visit here. But then, didn’t we all.
Mostly the atmosphere was hushed, that is until the little guy nearest the leaflet rack suddenly announced that Doctor Broomhead was about to retire.
His neighbour, a rough diamond if ever I saw one, rounded on him, saying ‘You’re havin’ a larf, aint you, mate?’
‘No,’ the little man whispered, seeming to shrink as he said it. ‘He’s going at Christmas.’
‘Well,’ said the bruiser, ‘that ain’t on, mate.’
The woman in grey piped up then, ‘It must be his age,’ she said.
‘Well, I ain’t havin’ it,’ went the guy, who was now red in the face and looking as if he was ready for a punch-up. ‘What about his patients, that’s what I want to know. Don’t our years of loyalty count for anything?’
I had to admit he had a point. Still the doc had to go sometime; it was just that now didn’t seem like the right time.
Another burst of laughter. Someone was certainly enjoying a bit of a joke.
I got to thinking about the doc, remembering the first time I came to his surgery. I was impressed by his caring manner. Before moving to the area I’d been looked after by a younger medical practitioner who hadn’t developed much savoir-faire. It was so refreshing to have a doctor who not only cared but went out of his way to be a friend. And I swear he could perform miracles. Look at the time I was turned down for a hip operation by a local hospital, when the doc took steps to get me seen elsewhere. I was in and out in no time. While others were on a two year waiting list, I walked out with a brand new hip. That man was high up in my estimation. Miracle performer par excellence!
It struck me then that Charles Broomhead’s objective was to make us all feel cheerful. Certainly there was never a dull moment with him. As well as having a typical bedside manner he is everything a doctor should be, practical, sensible, soothing, and friendly. Above all he instils a sense of wellbeing in his patients. I guess I shall soon have to use the past tense, and that’s sad!
While I waited I got to thinking about my visits. Regardless of why I needed to see him I always looked forward to visiting the surgery because I knew Doc and I would banter with each other. He would tease about the WI and the cakes but he always showed an interest. Yes, I have to say that if ever I felt a bit low he would sweep it away in a trice and I always came out of his room feeling good. I reasoned that it was because we’d known each for years but in reality he treated everyone the same.
I should have suggested he had a motto printed and framed in his room … something to the effect that laughter is the best medicine … and now it’s too late.
There’s only one way to deal with bad news and that’s to face it head on. So… have a great retirement, Doc, and I hope you flippin’ well miss us like we’ll miss you. Cheers, don’t you go worrying about us now, just enjoy your retirement.
Written by me and approved by him
(that’s because both my Guy and I are/were patients)
An appointment was made to see the doctor and on the due date I took the card and story with me. After he’d taken my blood pressure, we had a nice little chat. He told me about the plans he'd made for his retirement and I remarked that he should be having a rest instead of racing across seas in yachts or doing mature university courses in photography. Heehee, he said that I hadn’t taken it easy when I retired so why should he. There was no answer to that. At the end of the session I handed him the card, wished him well, and that was that. Amen! I have yet to meet his replacement but right now I’m still getting over losing a brilliant doctor.