Wednesday 14 October 2020

That human touch is always necessary

Meetings for the body

When it comes to my health and wellbeing, I look forward to my biannual medical consultation not with any anxiety but in anticipation of presenting myself to my consultants who have overseen my health over the last decade.

For instance, when I get the opportunity, I would like to return to Amsterdam and see the professor who first took on my care and gave a glowing reference reflective more of my personality than my medical condition, it prepared consultants in the UK for an interesting patient coming under their care.

My longer-term consultants have been in Manchester, in Wrexham and in London, I only had a few months of interaction before I was referred on to others. The reference from London brought me in contact with my first consultant who has retired to embark on humanitarian activities in Asia.

Meetings for the soul

When he left, my new consultant sent a letter of introduction from which I researched her background and career activities, I was better read up on her than she was on my medical notes, from it a relationship has developed that we are quite pleased to see each other when I go for my appointments.

The medical matters are quite quickly dispensed with and we get onto matters of life, of the heart, of happiness and much else. A patient is more than the notes and the medication, doctors who explore beyond the medical into the person and personality hopefully have a more rewarding doctor-patient experience and it helps them know that what they are doing contributes to demonstrably improving the quality of life of their patients.

Meetings for the mind

Another thing I enjoy visiting the hospital and consulting room is we sometimes have medical students sit in on my consultations, something I welcome. I engage with the students, find out their intended specialisms and encourage them that what they are doing makes the miracle of medicine possible in the lives of people like me.

However, with this pandemic, that last time I saw my consultant was last year. I had a telephone consultation in April and a rescheduled one from next week to today this morning. It is very likely my next appointment in April next year will also be a telephone conversation.

Meetings for the touch

We were able to pass considerable information between ourselves from the medical to the personal, but it was over in about 20 minutes as she had a full book of calls to make. That interpersonal connection was lost even though we deployed the art of conversation to the best we could. A 15-minute window was scheduled for phlebotomy on Monday when I could also pick up my prescription for another 6 months.

All other indicators were good apart from a concern with how one of the components of my combination formulary interacts with cholesterol. That will be monitored and reviewed for our next session. Much can be done with technology, but you do without essential human contact and interaction, especially in medical settings. I would suppose my next human touch will be at the prick of a needle, something I am used to and I am happy all is well.

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