I spoke with a lady today, in her late 70's, who I've been seeing for a few years now.
She suffers with several painful conditions, a fair bit of infirmity, a lifelong legacy of self doubt and anxiety, she'd lost her confidence and is troubled by F41.1 Generalised anxiety disorder. Has been for many many years.
I've seen her in out-patient clinic regularly (but not that frequently) over the last three or four years, once I offered her in-patient care when things were fraught after her husband died, episodically I meet with her in the day hospital, but overall I must confess it's the case that, as better folk than I convey, the doctor's the drug.
Decades with others have shown, and after rocking the boat I've realised too, that all that really helps her is seeing someone, and time's shown that someone has to be a psychiatrist, to review things and chew the cud with her once in a while. So over the last few years I see her every 3 months or so, it takes half an hour of my time and keeps her well. She now feels she's coping, she's going out, she's shopping, she enjoys time with others.
On getting folk well I'm invariably discharging them from regular follow up and offering open appointments, partly so I'm seeing folk who need seeing, partly so folk can then see me when they want to (rather than after an arbitary time I choose), but there are probably some half dozen patients who I'm seeing 4 times a year to simply see them. It's what they ask for, the GPs love it as it's stopped them visiting their GP frequently, it's the best thing I can think of that contains their ill ease and keeps them well.
So after 20 minutes of reviewing how she's been over the last copule months, what's gone well, what's been trying, what's changed, she spoke of her late husband and how when she get's home she'll apologise.
"Apologise for what?" I asked.
"For being late, getting back," she said, smiling weakly. "I always do it. Whenever I get home, I speak to him, still. I tell him when I'm going to sleep, too."
I could have hugged her, then.
It was so endearing, he lives on with her, her relationship endures with him despite his death, in a healthy and charming fashion that she lives each and every day. It's not just GPs who are fortunate men :-)