Tough, irritating, painful, sad, irritating, mystifying, ridiculous, absurd, terrifying: getting through the days can be a strange old business. Sometimes you could sit down and weep – indeed, there are times when this is exactly what’s required. Sometimes though, you just have to laugh.
One thing about this funny old thing called life is that we’re all in the same boat. We’re all absurd, we’re all ridiculous, we’re all scared and we’re all going to die. Sharing our vulnerability with a dose of good humour is, as it turns out, a healthy thing to do. Laughter has well documented physiological benefits. It lowers blood pressure, releases feel-good endorphins, stimulates the internal organs, improves short term memory and increases pain tolerance. Laughter is a fantastic natural social lubricant; it reduces hostilities, dismantles barriers and enhances relationships, whether personal,political or professional.
Dr Joe Baker
A busy over-booked morning clinic and a consequential shortened lunch break. The paperwork can wait. There is just enough time for a quick visit to the local coffee shop to relax and dip into my new John Berger book.
I order a coffee, turn, and am truly delighted to see Bruce, a former patient who is revisiting the area. We talk at length about all things non-medical. While I can remember his Paisley-lined collar shirts I have completely forgotten why he used to visit me. I have always had the ability to forget patients’ problems when they leave the practice; I think this may be some psychological protective device.
Dr Joe Baker
The first speaker on day two of the recent conference of the North and East Otago Literature Is Therapy Society (NEO-LITh-S) was Professor Iain U Endoe. Professor Endoe believes health professionals are talented actors who, more than any other group except perhaps, err, actors—and of course politicians—are able to radically modify their presenting personas according to the circumstances they encounter. A healthcare worker can discuss rugby with a freezing worker and then immediately go on to discuss post-modern concepts with a professor of literature, feigning interest all the while.
But there are limits, and if that limit is reached health workers may revert back to their innate states, with all their associated prejudices and offensive behaviours. Professor Endoe presented a case where a GP, “James”, transformed his usual solitary, rugged and stoic Cantabrian character into mellow bonhomie when called out to help a holiday maker from Paris who had met with misfortune. It was the severe unrelenting uni-directional banter which eventually led James to break his role play: [Read more…]
Dr Joe Baker
The 2016 North and East Otago Literature is Therapy Society (NEOLIThS) conference was held in the seaside village of Karitane last February. The keynote speaker was Professor Ivor G. Rudge who believes many patients are unhappy with their health providers but are unwilling to complain. Professor Rudge asks patients to write down their grievances. The process of transcribing their thoughts to paper is therapeutic for the patients and allows them to take more ownership of the issues. Professor Rudge also believes that disseminating patients’ concerns can inform health providers about what really irks patients. Professor Rudge presented various case studies. The first was a patient describing a typical encounter with his GP who we have called George (not his real name).