02 October 2017

Making the best use of a
Monday visit to the doctor

Bright autumn skies at the weir on the River Dodder at Firhouse (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

It has been a few months since I last had a B12 injection and a check-up on my sarcoidosis. With a brief stopover in Dublin before returning to Co Limerick tomorrow, I decided to visit my GP for a check-up this morning.

GPs’ waiting rooms can be busy on Monday morning and, as I expected, I had a long wait today.

A colleague who was once an active trade unionist recalls how he was once called out in the middle of negotiations by a senior director in a company where the talks were getting rancorous, the management were digging in their heels, and the frustrated workforce was ready to down tools and walk out.

My friend was expecting a confrontational one-to-one session behind closed doors.

The director claimed he was exhausted by workers who were taking advantage of a benign company attitude to sickness and sick-pay.

He was challenged to produce figures to justify his hard-hearted attitude.

He dug his heels in and pointed out that 40% of sick days were taken on Fridays and Mondays, and claimed the workers were using these sick days to extend their weekends.

So, the calm response came, 60% of sick days are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays?

Indeed, they are, the director affirmed.

He was challenged to make a quick calculation. Still not aware of how he was exposing the way he was challenged mathematically, it was pointed out that in a five-day working week, Fridays and Mondays were 40% of the working days. There was no evidence of anyone taking advantage of the proximity of weekends, he was told. He might have been better off looking at work conditions and company policies were contributing to health problems in the workforce, he was told, and the union now demanded to call in health and safety experts.

Needless to say, the union’s demands were met, the prejudiced manager soon moved on, and the company now has a happier and healthier workforce.

The waiting room was crowded this morning, not because there were too many laggards looking for sick notes, but because I have an exceptionally good GP, who takes time with each and every patient, and deals with the whole person and not just the presenting symptoms.

My B12 levels are low, I have noticed an occasional stagger, I needed a prescription for my inhaler, and I need some more tests over the next few weeks.

When I left, 2½ hours after joining the morning queue at my GP’s practice, there was a bright blue autumn sky, and despite the wind there was bright warm sunshine.

I walked back through the Dodder Valley Park, along the banks of the River Dodder from Templeogue Bridge as far as their weir at Firhouse. It was time for solitude and for prayerful thankfulness for all that is good in God’s creation.

Bright autumn colours at the weir on the River Dodder at Firhouse (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

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