Having taken time out after over three decades of being a family Doctor, I re-entered the workforce with renewed enthusiasm and without the responsibilities of running a large Medical Practice. I must admit to really enjoying what I'm doing as I travel around this massive, ancient country of Australia. But it's not just the beauty and diversity of the land and seascapes that leave an impact on me, it's the people themselves who provide the emotional "bread and butter" of what being a family Doc is all about.
Needless to say there have been some bad times: seeing the devastating effects of illegal drugs, especially Ice, on young and not-so-young people, and how it not only destroys individuals, but families and whole communities too. Or seeing how little kids are distorted emotionally by growing up in a atmosphere of violence, alcohol and drugs: or watching helplessly as couples who've been together for decades are slowly torn apart when one of them suffers the dementing process which is Alzheimers Disease.
But there are good times, and some funny ones too.
My ego was seriously boosted on two separate occasions by comments made by women. One said "You look really cute" and the other exclaimed "God, you're good looking." It doesn't matter that both were well into their 80's: or that the first had advanced Macular Degeneration and the other was a chronic alcoholic who was halfway through her first bottle of Sherry at 10am when I called for a Home Visit!
Often we are tempted to offer a quick fix at each consultation, or give patients a prescription to take away with them, but invariably that's impossible - especially for mental disorders or plain old loneliness. But I've always tried to give each patient some glimmer of hope, a word of encouragement or just let them know that for one moment, on one day in their lives, someone believed in them.