Friday, October 27, 2006


I broke my fast with the customary (fake-McVities) digestive biscuit and (authentic) Typhoo tea and with renewed vigour set about seeing patients in the Paediatric Assessment Unit. As I sat behind the reception desk to gather my thoughts and subsequently scrawl them on to paper, my eyes caught those of a gentleman who happened to be strolling past to get a drink for his daughter. He looked familiar but I couldn't quite place him.

There was a backlog of kids waiting to be seen so I didn't ration much further brainpower and time in trying to decipher how the Venn diagrams of our lives had overlapped. However, when he walked past again neither of us could contain ourselves. The bespectacled father (BF) approached the desk and in the broadest of Walsall accents initiated proceedings:

BF: Excuse me doctor.
Me: Hello.
BF: I don't mean to be rude but...
Me: (Interrupting him Paxmanesquely) I know what you're going to say: you've seen me somewhere before?
BF: Yeah.
Me: But I've no idea where!
BF: I do. Were you a student here?

[I naturally began to scramble through my distant memories of undertaking a rotation at this hospital during my student days desperately trying to uncover any seeds that may have sprouted into hefty legal proceedings.]

Me: (Nervously) erm...yes.
BF: You see that little girl over there (pointing to a 3-year old girl being seen by another doctor)?
Me: Oh yes. Is that your daughter?
BF: Yes. You were there at the birth!

The (rather less newsworthy) veil of ignorance was lifted from my eyes and I recognised him and his wife. They'd kindly agreed to let me attend the birth of their daughter and share a very personal moment.

We recalled my decision to abide my Magnus Magnusson's motto "I've started so I'll finish" and staying for the full 17-hour duration of the birth as well as my and BF's successful attempt at heading out for lunch during the labour but failed attempt at hiding this from his wife. They had even kept the card I gave them the following day to thank them for making me an honourary family-member for the day.

A new patient means a new Venn diagram and just as I never expected to revisit the painstaking compass-dependent task of drawing them again, I (rather naively perhaps) never anticipated bumping into the grown up versions of one of the many babies I've seen.


Anonymous said...

3 years!

Anonymous said...

You're lucky. few of my clients make the same mistake twice.