The Official Website  for Carol Margaret Tetlow

1st  February ·

Strange sights are seen in hospital. In my very first job there was an adorable lady who was an in-patient for months on the surgical ward where I worked. Not that she had had any surgery. She wasn't fit enough for surgery, but still she stayed on the ward. In the past she had had surgery, many years before and now she had a hernia that protruded from her old scar. She had done nothing about it until she had to be admitted as an emergency. Goodness know how she had managed.

The hernia was enormous. It was the size - and I'm not joking - of two footballs. When she lay on her back in bed, it lay on the bed beside her like some huge dog. When she stood up, she needed a nurse on either side of her, who each had the ends of a towel which was used as a sling to carry the hernia so she could then struggle to walk with a frame.

Nobody dared operate. Her health was frail and the operation would have been long, arduous and perilous. Her bowels which were ruminating around in the hernia periodically became twisted and then untwisted, much to everyone's amazement.

Of course the day came when they didn't untwist and she died from bowel obstruction but the memory of her walking down the ward, flanked by her two nurses will be with me forever, as will her never failing sense of humour and lovely smile.

5th February ·

Dear Doctor Britton,

Thank you for visiting Mr Wottle the other day. I hope you don't think I wasted your time in view of the fact that he had popped out to the supermarket to get some crumpets for you. Weren't they nice?

He has been a lot better since you called. I hope the three cups of tea that you drank while you were waiting for him didn't disrupt the rest of your house calls by additional trips to the toilet. If you're anything like me then tea just goes straight through you - please see my medical notes as I have discussed this on numerous occasions with Dr Bonnington but she doesn't have any answers apart from to stop drinking so much tea and between you and me I think 23 cups a day is very reasonable and not excessive, don't you?

Anyway, I'm not writing about me, but about Mr W (if I may refer to him as that). His general mood seems brighter and he had a day out - see photo - with some of his chums. Can you guess where he went? Here's a clue - it was a bit of a shambles of a day!

Please find enclosed with this note Mr Wottle's urine sample (please excuse the container that it's in and could I have it back as it's an attractive shape and does look nice with flowers in). His diary shows that for the last two days, he has had to pass water once more than his usual fifteen and he was worried about this. Also my urine sample that Dr Bonnington wanted. I think I've labelled them correctly but I'm not entirely sure as the telephone rang in the middle of me writing our names....

As it happens, I have an appointment to see Dr Bonnington next week at the same time that Mr Wottle is booked in to see your good self, so we will bring our thermos and a box of flapjack to keep us going, so don't worry if you're running late.

Yours in awe

Mrs Coral Wottle

PS thank you again

8th  February ·

Going back in time today to when I was a young whippersnapper on the gynae ward. A lady in her 70s was admitted. She had been to her GP with vaginal discharge. He had examined her and found a suspicious looking growth around the cervix.

The consultant agreed and she and her husband were prepared for the worst.

She was taken to theatre for an examination under anaesthetic and biopsy. Initial thoughts were not good. There was a huge, white/grey 'thing' ( a medical term not often used) occupying most of her upper vagina. Pieces were removed, simply revealing more and more friable lump. There was a hush in theatre as the like of this was rarely, rarely seen.

Still pieces were removed and then a larger piece and a larger one still. And suddenly it became clear that this was some ancient pessary that must have been in for years. Once it was out, everything looked healthy.

Back on the ward, we asked her about it. After much head scratching she suddenly recalled that in her 30s, she had been unable to have a family and this had been attributed to a tilted womb. The pessary had been inserted to place the womb in a more anatomical site and she had forgotten all about it.

Sadly she never did have any children but at least it was one very happy and relieved couple who went home the next day.

Appearances can be deceptive - adage for today.

13th  February ·

Dear Doc Britton,

I am writing with extreme urgency. Please, please, please do not open the other letter that's in an envelope just like this one. It might be difficult to tell one from another.

A disaster has occurred!

I was at my desk catching up with correspondence and jotting down my weekly letter to you. It so helps me focus on what's wrong with me. I was also writing a Valentine's card for Mrs Wottle and ALAS! I put them in the wrong envelopes!

Mrs Wottle opened up hers today (the postman doesn't come on Sundays) and was not impressed to read:-

Piles, gall bladder, intimate rash, possible addiction to watching rugby, should I have a tattoo?, weight of stools recorded over the last week - 2 ounces up on Thursday - is this signficant?

She ranted at me for a while, chastising me for not being romantic and it dawned on me that if she had my list of ailments, then her Valentine's card had gone to you!

Please please abide by your Hippocritical Oath and observe confidentiality if you have read the salacious and slightly naughty words I have written to her. She would never live it down if it were to get around Lambdale what my nickname is for her.

Also she says she won't make my tea for a fortnight.

Looking forward to seeing you, though please ignore my blushes, on Tuesday.

Yours patiently

W Wottle Esq

PS if there is also a sheer black bri-nylon negligee with red lace edging in the envelope, please could I have it back......I mean for Mrs Wottle, not me.....oh goodness, this is dreadful........perhaps I'll see Dr Diamond for a while.....

PPS the rash is terrible. Could I be allergic to bri-nylon?

18 February ·

It is time to confess. Why today? I haven't a clue but the following must be written and an apology sent to all who might have been involved......gulp......

My first job after qualifying. General surgery. In those days the wards were long and thin, with beds down either side, the nursing station at the near end and at the far end was the day room. This was a room where, those who were well enough could go, read magazines, smoke (!!!!, yes really), have a natter and watch TV. None of this every bed having a TV (if you're rich enough to pay for it). Needless to say, this room was popular, especially in the evening when ward rounds were done, all was quiet and the sicker patients were settling down for the night. Remember in those days, you'd be in hospital for a week after having a hernia repaired, two if you'd had your piles sorted out. Finding something to pass the time was essential.

One of my favourite films was to be on TV. Brief Encounter - the original version. I desperately wanted to see it but knew that I'd be up against oppostion if I went to the Doctors' Mess, so decided that the ward was where I'd be in with the biggest chance.

So.....uncharacteristically, I announced that I was going to do a ward round in the early evening, just after tea. I told each and every patient, in particular the most mobile, that I recommended an early night for them all and that nobody was to go to the day room. Rest was vital for a speedy recovery.

Result! I had the ward lights turned off and scurried into the day room and found the most comfy chair. The fabulous opening music began and I prepared myself for 2 hours of tearjerking cinema, congratulating myself on my brilliance.

Five minutes in and my pager went off and I was called to an emergency, from which I never the sense that I was kept busy for hours.

Just what I deserved, I hear you say and you are right, but it was worth a try…

21st  February ·

Dear Doc Britton,

You are a star! You didn't turn a hair at my last appointment after the embarrassing mix up over the Valentine's card. You calmly handed over the 'garment' which you had sensibly put in a supermarket carrier bag, so nobody in the waiting area that I passed on leaving was any the wiser and will have attributed my blushing face to some internal examination during the consultation.

I'm sorry I found it difficult to concentrate on my problems, even though you did your utmost to put me at ease. No wonder you have to spend five years training at medical school, if you've to deal with situations like this one.

Anyway, I'm over it now. As the young uns say these days 'let's move on!'

Mrs Wottle seems to have 'moved on' also. In fact, she's gone to Harrogate to stay with her sister. But she has promised me that she's coming back in time for the Knit and Knatter group, so all is well. She seemed thrilled with the negligee but said it was very negligent of me to get so mixed up! How we laughed. It was just like old times.

Well, I mustn't rabbit on, so I'll close by reassuring you that I've only fifteen small things to discuss this Tuesday, so I haven't bothered with a double appointment as that seems a bit unnecesary.

Mrs Wottle sends her regards, as does her sister Mrs Rotbect, even though you've never met her, she feels as if she knows you as she has heard all about you.

Keep up the good work,

Yours patiently, as ever

W Wottle Esq

PS -I'll be out taking photos again soon.

25th  February ·

Be afraid, be very afraid. Us doctors are not as burnt out and exhausted as you think.....

'Come in, Come in' I welcomed the next patient, who got to his feet and lurched with a terrible limp towards me.

I listened patiently to the woeful tale of how he had hurt his knee and now it was almost impossible to weight bear. In fact, the only reason he was at the surgery was because the unfeeling receptionists had told him to come down rather than have a house call.

Sympathetic noises came from within me and I announced that the next thing was for me to examine him. He seemed alarmed and surprised that a good knee examination required him not only to lie on the exam couch but also remove his trousers. He tried hard to get his jeans up over the offending knee but I shook my head, sadly. That wouldn't do.

Various 'ows' and 'ooh, that hurts' were cried as I examined his knee which, curiously was not swollen, not bruised and looked for all the world like a good old knobbly knee (this is a rarely used medical term....not).

'It's agony, doc. I can't go to work like this. Can I have a sick note?'

'Ah ha,' said a tiny voice inside my head.

He got up off the examination couch with surprising agility and put on his trousers a lot quicker than he had parted with them.

'Please could you walk around the room again for me?' I asked politely.

He shot me an evil look but dragged himself to his feet, face contorted with pain and hirpled to the door and back.

'That is remarkable.....' I commented. 'To start with, I can't find anything abnormal examining your knee and now you're limping on the other leg. Perhaps you'd like to take your trousers off again and I'll check out that other knee.'

He left rather abruptly....... walking perfectly normally ........

27th  February ·

Advice to those thinking of a career in general practice, or indeed any branch of prepared. Practice that facial expression of mild interest and empathy which is to be ready to be used at all times. You never know when you might need it.

'Hello doctor,' said the man in his mid forties, sitting down to have his blood pressure checked.

'Hello,' the doctor replied (it might have been me). 'How are you?'

'I'm just back from the Phillipines.'


'Yes, it was. I got married.....'

'Well, congratulations.'


'Um, there is a bit of a problem.'

'Oh?' An open question to encourage the patient to say more...


Wait for the patient to speak....

'Yes, my wife in the UK isn't very pleased.'

Well no, I don't expect she is. And she wasn't when she came to see me a couple of days later and sat and sobbed for twenty minutes....