One of the things I most enjoy in life is chatting with young people especially my children and their friends and relatives. I love to listen to their zest for life, their enthusiasm to explore the world around them, their hopes and thoughts of the future and most of all their wit and humour, albeit honest and direct. It is good to laugh out loud one minute and then be in serous conversation about where our world is going and what they think ought to be done. I cope with being teased, infact I secretly enjoy it but at the same time they usually show respect for my views. It makes me feel refreshed and inspired to look out for opportunities in my life.
Hence, when I went with my youngest daughter to see The second Marigold hotel, starring actresses such as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who I have followed since my late teens, the poignant words at the end said by Maggie Smith ” There is no present like the time” stayed with me and made me write this blog which I published whilst still writing! It was an amusing film, not necessarily outstanding in anyway but not a bad way to spend a late dreary Sunday afternoon. For those that haven’t seen it, it is the story of a group of retired, typically English people (almost cringeworthy) who decide to go to an Indian retirement home rather than face the alternative in England. Before long amidst the chaos they find themselves finding employment of varying sorts and subsequently feeling rejuvenated and stirred into embarking on new intimate liaisons or just simply falling in love’ and generally rekindling a youthful lifestyle. Hence, Maggie Smith’s reflection at the end.
One of the things that prevent us making the most out of time is fear. fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt or simply fear of being left alone. It doesn’t matter what age we are these feelings loom large. Many people find themselves in a rut, unfulfilled, or suffering a job which they don’t enjoy, being underpaid, putting up with working with a bully or someone who is not pulling their weight. I hear this again and again in surgery and I know the impact it has on their lives and those close to them. Inevitably, if they don’t move on it effects their mental or physical health or both and that’s when they appear in the surgery for help. It is interesting in Chinese medicine that ‘fear’ is the emotion related to the kidney and by weakening the kidneys this impacts on the other major organs. Also, they hold the view that the kidneys are related to fertility and because of this it is important to maintain a balance by avoiding fear and preserving kidney function to become fertile. An interesting idea and over the years I have been aware of several infertile couples becoming pregnant very quickly when they have cast cares and fears aside!
At our CQC inspection the staff were asked if they were happy and whether there was much sick leave and if they were able to talk openly and whistle blow if appropriate. Fortunately, it was remarked by the inspectors that they felt there was a positive atmosphere in the surgery and we fulfilled these criteria. I think on a day to day basis I believe for the most part we do. I also hope that if we don’t that patients and staff alike will be able to complain so that it can be redressed.
I feel very sad when I talk with young people who are trapped and can’t move on, they are lost and without direction. They fear getting a job that doesn’t sound good enough or is not paid well enough, but often taking up the most unlikely job can lead to job of your dreams. General Practice was always furthest from my thoughts, I only went the interview for the training scheme because the scheme was new and they wanted as many applicants as possible to attend in order to promote the new scheme. I was doing nothing on that afternoon and many of my friends were going so I thought I would go along . When I was offered a place I thought the jobs would be useful for my paediatric career. But at this time General Practice was under great change and before long I became drawn to it and I certainly have no regrets.
As we get older the fear can increase so that often people fear leaving the comfort of their homes. However, with the advent of easier travel and better health care I never fail to be astounded at the corners of the Earth our elderly patients venture – from jungles to Antartica. I have often thought it would save the country a lot of money if retired people could have subsidised consecutive cruises to combat loneliness and they would receive excellent day care. I have learnt how oxygen can be arranged from country to country overcoming who is responsible from the aeroplane to the other side of passport control. This was to arrange various ambitious holidays for a patient dependent on constant oxygen, but it was a rewarding challenge! This demonstrated how determination and drive can overcome a disability. Travel is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but it is important to make the best of life while we can and with modern technology there are ways in which the World can be brought to the home. I remember a 90 year old came into the surgery with neck pain. I asked her if she had been polishing or gardening but the she said” I have a confession to make, I bought myself a laptop for my 90th birthday and I think I have been spending too long on it!” She is by no means the only nonagenarian ‘techy’.
My message to young and old seize those opportunities whilst you can as time is precious and not only will you enjoy life and be more fulfilled but it will preserve both your mental and physical health.
There is no present like the time