The Official Website for Carol Margaret Tetlow
Letter to Mr Douglas, Practice Manager
Dear Mr Douglas,
I've been out and about this weekend to celebrate Yorkshire Day and thought you and the docs would like to see some of my snaps.
I didn't take my water pills the day I went because if I take them it's a few hours before I can leave the bathroom, so I hope Doc Britton doesn't mind -
We had a good Yorkshire Day (shame it wasn't a weekday as we could have had celebrations in the medical centre and you could all have worn white roses), with home-
Hope you like the photos.
Yours patiently (joke!!!! hope you get it!!!!)
(Click here to see more of Mr Wottle’s photos)
Letter to Dr Faber from Mrs Tonbridge
I thought I'd drop you a line as I can't get an appointment with you for over a week. This is outrageous! What if it was urgent? You ought to do something about this.
Anyway, you will recall, I have no doubt, that I came to see you with dizziness and buzzing in my ears which is driving me demented. It's there all the time, screeching away and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I think it's my blood pressure pills but you insist not, so I stopped them but it didn't make any difference, except in the evening when I was watching my soaps. I've started the tablets again BTW.
We talked about the dizziness the day I came to see you about my itching, my bad knee, the funny taste in my mouth and the fact I feel tired all the time. Good job I keep a diary of all my appointments.
You sent me to see the ear specialist, who wasn't very sympathetic but sent me for a brain scan.
I went for my follow up appointment yesterday and to get the result.
He said there was nothing there.
He seemed to be amused by this. I don't know why.
See you next week.
PS my symptoms are no better so I hope you've some more ideas.
Yes, this actually happened.....…
Appearances can be deceptive.
Go with your gut instinct.
Be prepared for anything at all
Three examples of very very many. Sometimes you just cannot believe what you are seeing.
A 20 year old came in, with her Mum (to add gravitas) complaining of nausea. She was already under the care of a consultant for this and had seen several other docs in the practice. Scanning through her notes, I had not go the first clue what to do. There didn't seem to be a medication that hadn't been tried, the consultant was arranging tests. Play for time, I thought and asked her to lie on the exam couch so I could feel her abdomen. Yes, you've guessed it. She was almost two thirds of the way through a pregnancy, undiagnosed (despite tests). She went on to have a lovely little girl and didn't feel sick any more.
A mum came in with her baby of 9 months. He wasn't feeding well. Nothing more specific. She wondered about a rash. Not a lot to go on, so time for a full exam, with clothes off. Not a lot to find until.......I moved to listened to the back of his chest. His back was one enormous bruise. Alarm bells rang. Time to talk to mum in more detail. And yes, she had hit him, repeatedly. I will always remember the extensive and unbelievable bruising, so vast that I was sure it must be due to a blood disorder. They and the rest of the family received all the appropriate help and support.
On call one Easter. Just before midnight after a hellishly busy day. I was asked to visit an 11 year old, who had apparently come home from evening church and complained of feeling ill. I remember going into the lounge, where all the family were watching TV and being told she was in the next room, which was a bedroom, asleep. Probably not what I wanted to hear but in I went, only to be greeted by an unconscious, blue patient, barely breathing, almost pulse-
Reliving two of those stories has made me feel quite queazy! I must be going soft.…
A couple of things before I see you tomorrow.
The rash down below is a lot better since I took Mrs W's advice and resorted to some looser underkecks (they don't give you the same support though, do they?) and so more air has been able to circulate around my vitals. I'll still let you have a look though, to be on the safe side and I need to keep the appointment as the old waterwork trouble is starting to flare up again and I'd like my blood pressure checked if you've time. If not, I can ask the nurse.
Also, I forgot to include this photo of a little bit of straw arriving at Dr Bonnington's barn. 320 bales!!!! She lets me go and see the ponies, Smudge and Jester, with my grandkids (did you know I've fourteen of them now?) I took carrots, apples and the youngest two and those ponies gobbled them all up (not the grandkids, just the carrots!!!) Good job Mrs W spotted that otherwise you'd wonder why my family say I'm the best grampy in the world!
Anyway, see you tomorrow doc. Mrs W will send you some goosegogs from the garden.
Yours still patiently (I love this joke!)
W Wottle Esq
(Click here to see more of Mr Wottle’s photos)
Just heard the fabulous news from my publisher that we can start work on getting the third novel in the Teviotdale series published. It may take some time but it's written and raring to go!
Time for a small glass of wine (or possibly a large one) to celebrate. I think the doctors at the medical centre would approve and confirm that this would definitely come under the heading of 'for medicinal purposes.'
Thank you as always to my great publisher, Guy Boulianne and Editions Dedicaces.
Watch this space for updates but keep reading for more about the medical centre and more from my memoirs.
Thank you all so much.
Back in the days of medical school, the first three years (of the course I did) were spent at the university and the final two years on the wards. After three years of doing little other than sitting with my nose in a book and attending lectures (okay, so there were parties, wild nights, many trips to the pub etc etc) it was a relief to get onto the ward but placed on one where the speciality was kidney medicine, I felt way out of my depth and wondered what on earth I had let myself in for. There were three months of this and I was no nearer any answers at the end of them and very reluctantly transferred to a surgical ward, fully believing that I had made the wrong choice of career.
On my first day I was told I ought to stay late to see an emergency operation on someone with bowel obstruction. I didn't want to and had to be dragged down to the theatre to watch, wishing desperately that I was anywhere else but there.
As loops of dilated and diseased bowel erupted from the incision the surgeon had made, I had something of an epiphany and suddenly found myself totally and utterly smitten with this aspect of the profession. From that moment onwards, whereas I had always been the first to the bus stop, I became the last, wanting to be involved with it all,routine admissions, emergencies. You name it and I was there, irrespective of the time of day. My consultant was tremendous and to this day remains one of the people who has been most significant in my career.
There were only three med students attached to this consultant -
So why did I give up and go into family medicine? Because it quickly became obvious that wasn't what you know, it was who you know. It wasn't how good you were technically, it was the crowd you were in with and who you drank at the bar with. It was in those days, a pretty desolate life for a female because you started at a disadvantage. You might get married or, perish the thought, be foolish enough to get pregnant. Also, as I've mentioned before, the higher up the tree you got, the less you actually talked to your patients and found out all about them, warts and all and for someone naturally nosy, like me, who likes things to fit together in the manner of a complicated jigsaw, none of this was an option.
I have to tell you about the surgical exams though -
So, surgical exams. A little background information is required to start with. In order to pursue my desire to be a surgeon, I had sit the required postgrad surgical exams. The first part, affectionately called 'primary' was one of the most notorious exams known to mankind. When mentioned, most docs went pale and had to sit down. Why, I thought to myself, do I want to put myself through this? The pass rate was appalling. 17%.
Like Dick Whittington, I went to London and the word on the grapevine was to enrol on a specific course aimed to get you through primary exams. Run by two eminent, retired professors, it was held every evening, Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings. To use the words hard work does not do it justice. These guys were two of the most inspirational teachers I'd come across. One taught us anatomy, the other physiology. The third part of the exam, pathology -
The notes I amassed were legion. Files bursting with crude drawings and scrawled words. Every night we were given multiple choice questions from old papers to copy and learn. No stone was unturned, no artery ignored, no minutiae of liver function left unmentioned.
The exams were held -
And then there were the vivas. On the next table along, I could see my friend's glasses fall apart where he'd held them together with elastoplast, hoping for the sympathy vote. But these upright, humourless, pinnacles of the surgical world did not crack. We leered down microscopes, described various conditions, debated others -
We were told to assemble at 1600h for the results. We were shown into some sort of cloakroom which smelled of sweat (possibly fear, possibly old gym shoes) and a couple of hours later(when it was considerably more smelly) a man appeared at a door and called out twelve numbers. Mine was one. The only female (brief bragging there -
The twelve of us were led upstairs and told to file into a room and line up at the far side of a huge polished table.Learned men sat watching us. We were then told that we had passed and the learned men stood, bowed and clapped briefly before shaking each of us by the hand and then we had to file out again.
What tradition! What drama! What a proud moment!
And yes, I did go out that night and get (moderately) drunk. Well, why not?
Dear Doc Britton,
Can't tell you how thrilled I am that you've chosen one of my photos for the medical centre Facebook page. It's a great honour and since we noticed (how our lives have changed since we got our computer! We only check several times a day, just in case there's any news from the doctors that we need to catch up with pronto). Anyoldhow, since we saw it, Mrs Wottle has been on the phone to all her friends and family, telling them to have a look.
The other members of the Lambdale photographic group will be green with envy too. Wait til I show them on Wednesday.
I think you'll agree that this panoramic view encapsulates many of the features of the Yorkshire dales -
Anyway, doc, the rash down below has cleared up a treat with that tincture you gave me but I've booked in to see you this week for a catch up and another prescription plus I've a bit of a personal question to ask you. Please don't mention this to Mrs Wottle.
Looking forward to seeing you Tues. Same time! Same place!
Yours patiently ( I can't get over that joke, no matter how I try)
W Wottle Esq
PS here's another old ruin -
(Click here to see more of Mr Wottle’s photos)
Letter to Dr Bonnington from Mrs Tonbridge
Dear Dr Bonnington,
I have just been listening to the wireless and am concerned to hear that you are not prescribing antibiotics to patients any more because you are all going to be made to pay a fine if you do. It is also in today's newspaper, on the front page, so it must be true.
I hope that none of this applies to me. You and I both know that as soon as I get a cold it goes onto my chest and will not clear up unless I start antibiotics as soon as possible. At my age and with my problems, it is vital I have tablets when I need them. I am not a guinea pig for new fangled plans.
Last time I visited the surgery, I saw one of those young training doctors (are they really doctors? They have some odd ideas). Anyway, I was given a right old talking to about how I DIDNT need antibiotics. What does he know?
Everyone knows that you come away from your appointment with a prescription for something. Aren't doctors supposed to do what the patient wants?
Please mark my notes to say that this new rule does not apply to me and Mavis from next door says do the same with her notes as she is a slave to her bladder, as Dr Faber knows.
PS Kiddies need antibiotics too -
Off rambling again.....
Our finals were over and we were in a state of no mans' land, where, although qualified, our registration had not come through, so we were still med students. We had a month to work and we were allowed to choose where we went and what we did (from a list of choices, I hasten to add). I asked for hospital X to do bowel surgery and was sent to hospital Y to do general surgery and obs and gynae. Hospital Y was situated in a town which can only be described as the end of the world. There was nothing there, no atmosphere, no beauty, no good shops and worst of all, we were housed (there were about four of us who had been allotted this short straw -
I was smiling to myself one day. It was sunny and warm.
'Why are you smiling?' he screeched.
'Because it's a beautiful day,' I replied, 'and I'm happy.'
He didn't speak to me for the rest of the morning, so I suppose you could call that a result.
In Obs and Gynae, I was welcomed with open arms as I was able to suture and thus save the registrar from having to be called. He was not a popular chap, probably by virtue of the fact that he appeared to be terrified of everything and struggled with decision making (not a good character trait in this speciality). Clearly at a loss for any work to do, the midwives decided that they should fix it for me to go on a date with the registrar and let's be honest, if you squinted at him in a funny way, he was quite good looking. Their mission was a success and we went out for dinner. It was a disaster from start to finish and when he finally plucked up courage to ring for a second date, I had fortunately started my first house job I was far too busy to go (and had spotted someone else who was way more attractive.....shhhh). Of more anon..
Here's a good memory, though I can still cringe at the thought.......
One day, when I was on call for the police, they called with a rather unusual request, asking if they could call round to the surgery to show me something that they wanted my opinion on.
I waited curiously. They produced a small box, in which there was.......wait for it.......a finger, somewhat mummified, complete with nail. Brown and wrinkly,a severed edge at the bottom.
'Is it human?' was the question.
Now, funnily enough, I am not an expert on dessicated bits of anatomy so I hedged my bets and said that it might be. Off they went and duly dug up the garden where it had been found.
I heard no more and didn't think a lot more about it.
The next year, I went to a lecture on forensic science, held in a nearby city. It was fascinating until the speaker began to recount what he referred to as a hilarious event that was horribly familiar to me. It was all about a finger found in a garden (I mean let's face it, there can't be many of those).
'The police showed it to a police surgeon who said it was human. Of course it wasn't -
How the room echoed with raucous laughter for what seemed like hours. How I laughed raucously with the rest of them, wishing the ground would swallow me up. Was I being paranoid, or was everyone really looking at me? How red can one person go? How quickly did I leave the room at the end of the lecture?
In the end I did find out what happened. It turned out to be from a stuffed ape -
There is always a lesson to be learned and I am now an expert on ape's fingers, which may very well come in handy one day.
Those of you who know me will know that we have ten donkeys (along with two cats, four dogs, including Hector and Rufus and two ponies) and I am often asked -
From a very early age I had wanted my own horse. I must have driven my parents mad with my pleading and leaving little notes around the house reminding them. I had great plans that we could turn my father's study into a stable and that I would happily give up piano lessons to fund my project. They promised me I could have one...................when I could afford to buy and keep it myself. Being a doc isn't really the sort of career that marries well with having a horse. You can't exercise it when you're on call and when you're on call for a week at a time, then you're not doing your animal any favours.
It was late one winter afternoon, October-
I left and thought no more about it, eager to get back, write up notes and get home.
That Christmas a large envelope arrived for me at work. Inside was a donkey calendar for the next year and a thank you note from the above lady. The calendar was from the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and as I flicked through the pages of adorable photos, I read with interest that you could foster two donkeys from them.
To cut a long story short, Jack and Danny arrived a few months later and I was smitten from first glance. Thus my love affair with donkeys began and soon became well known.
My consulting room was full of donkey photos. People would ring up and leave messages for me that there had been a donkey on TV who needed a good home. Others who couldn't remember my name would ring up and ask for an appointment with the 'donkey doctor.' Bags of carrots were left at reception, particularly at Christmas. Patients (obviously intrigued) were so generous and kind.
So being a GP affected all aspects of my life but this was very definitely in a good way.
One for the girls.....
We have a lot to put up with being of the female species and one of the least pleasant (but none the less very important) procedures has to be the cervical smear (pap smear). Screening in this country is every 3 years up to the age of 50 and then 5 yearly (unless results advise otherwise) but I know in other parts of the world, screening is more frequent. Currently the age of first screening in the UK is 25 and there is much debate whether this should be changed and brought earlier. Personally I think it should but that's not what this post is about.
From my many years experience of taking smears (not personal experience of having one done, I hasten to add) here are several ideas that I have witnessed to lessen the impact of the moment.
1) Read (or pretend to be reading) a book
2) Listen to some music on your ipod
3) fall half asleep because you have taken one of your friend's tranquilisers
4) sing tunelessly
5) recite poetry
6) talk incessantly about rubbish
7) giggle infuriatingly because you have had 3 large vodkas before you came to surgery and it's only 3 in the afternoon.
8) Prevaricate as much as possible before capitulating and screaming.
9) Bring partner/spouse/friend to hold hands with
10) Suddenly remember you have a prior engagement and promise to rebook next week
11) Lie on the exam couch fully dressed in the forlorn hope that a system has been devised for taking the smear without having to undress (this shows very optimistic personality trait).
So there you have it -
Dear Doc Britton,
Here's some photos of a breathless bird! Why breathless you ask? Because it's a puffin! Mrs Wottle came up with that joke and how we laughed. We had a lovely stay up near Bamburgh and a day trip to the Farne Islands (though we both felt quite queasy on the boat.)
We'd love to have stayed longer but I reminded Mrs Wottle that not only did I have to get back to my appointment with you this afternoon but she has her women's knit and knatter group today as well.
The sea air did us both good but we were a bit naughty and had ice cream two days running.
I wonder if there's anything that can be done with the big dangly skin tag in my oxter -
See you soon.
Yours patiently (I still can't get over that joke)
B Wottle Esq
(Click here to see more of Mr Wottle’s photos)
Possibly a bit too close to home...
Lots of years ago I had pleurisy. Those of you who have had this experience will sympathise with the excruciating pain on breathing. I had had a bad chest for about three weeks, given in and asked for antibiotics,which didn't help, nor did the second lot. Needless to say, I carried on working. Please note that if a patient had come in to see me, I would have signed them off, but the senior partner at the time obviously didn't think this was necessary and anyway, it was always so inconvenient for all the others if one of the docs went off sick. So I persevered, feeling worse and worse by the day, no appetite and unable to sleep for the cough.
The pain started on a Sunday evening and by Monday morning, it was diabolical. I went to work, clutching my side and trying hard not to breathe (which was tricky). The senior partner offered to see me at the end of surgery.
I have never done such an easy surgery. I must have been looking dreadful as the patients came in, took one look at me, heard me shriek in pain and beat a hasty retreat having worked out for themselves that I was infinitely more ill than they were.
I was sent for an xray and told to go home. Would I just do two house calls on my way home? (yes,really). I was promised a home visit by the senior partner in three days time.
Sitting and resting is somewhat alien to me and daytime television leaves a lot to be desired and so I decided that now was the time to do that tapestry which was sitting in a bag. Perfect! I am not a natural seamstress unless I am putting sutures in human skin, so tapestry was a challenge,to say the least.
Senior partner due any time and I was making good progress (with the tapestry and with regard to the pleurisy). So much so, I was feeling rather proud of myself. The doorbell rang and I went to put my sewing to one side.........only to find that I had sewn it to my trousers, many stitches earlier.
Assuming a look of nonchalance, I opened the door with an embryonic cushion cover flapping half way down one thigh and let the doc in.
With any luck, he must have thought it was a new fashion trend or else he didn't notice as no comment was passed, other than my chest was on the mend.
I had another week off (cripes -
Wasn't it Andy Warhol who said that everyone would have fifteen minutes of fame?
There used to be a series made by Yorkshire TV (still available on some lesser known channels for those who want to relive it) about a young policeman, his young doctor wife (who sadly died after not too many episodes) and their exploits in and around the North Yorkshire Moors village where they lived. Set in the 1960s, it was accompanied by music from the same era and was extremely popular.
Believe it or not, it was me who taught the actress (from a very well known family of actors) how to use a stethoscope convincingly!
And who saw the episode when some young tearaway came off his motor bike, sustaining a terrible head injury and we were treated to a close up of his dilated pupils? Well, yes, I confess I put the drops in his eyes to achieve this effect and then stood by in case of side effects.
Add to this the day the member of a very popular boyband came in to see me, a visit which I was able to put to good use a week later, when a recalcitrant 10 year old was refusing to be examined. I merely told who had sat in the chair she was sitting in, but a few days earlier and she was completely under my spell.
So I think I've had my fifteen minutes but you never know, if everyone keeps buying my books, then maybe I'll get a few minutes more (you can't blame me for slipping that one in!)
Extract from the Dales Advertiser, featuring Lambdale, Leyburn, Bedale and surrounding areas.
Make the most of your Bank Holiday weekend. The weather forecast is promising apart from showers and occasional thunder so enjoy! Here is just a short selection of events.
There is an antique and collectibles fair in the Chantry Hall Bedale. All proceeds to one of three charities (see posters for details.) From 0930 -
Lambdale Agricultural Show is sure to attract the usual huge crowds. There is something for everyone -
Lambdale Tennis club are having a BBQ to raise funds for a new club house and flood lights. The local butcher has kindly donated all the meat and the ever cheerful club members will be providing salads, breads and a selection of desserts.
The Dales Ramblers will meet at 1000 on Sunday in the car park of the Kings Head before setting off on a 12 mile round walk which will take in local breweries and riverside views.
Teviotdale Medical Centre would like us to point out that Monday is a bank holiday so the surgery will be closed, but back to normal on Tuesday. If you need medical care, ring the usual number. Try not to ask the doctors for their advice if you happen to meet them out and about. It really isn't appropriate.
A tale of courage and fortitude.....
Miss X was born with dislocated hips. At the time of her birth, nothing was done about them, so she grew up, struggling to walk. Needing two sticks, her gait was very odd. She looked as if her legs were collapsing like a concertina and as though huge effort was required to take even one pace.
Lesser mortals would have given up. Not so Miss X. She travelled the world, had a career and when she retired, set up in her lovely little semi-
The upheaval it would have caused to get her to surgery was not worth it and I would always visit her. As I went into her lounge, the cat was always summoned to come and say hello to me, with mixed results, but she was never happy to start on her own problems until the cat was on my knee.
As she grew older, her gait became worse. Hints were dropped about alternative accommodation, maybe one one floor only, to make life easier. I think we had this conversation when she told me how she came downstairs on her bottom -
A red rag to a bull!
The next time I visited, she had a stair lift, which she and the cat sat on and a new tall trolley which she could lie on and then scoot around the lounge and kitchen in a dramatic but effective fashion.
To this day, she manages like this. To move would equate to giving up. She has fabulous friends who support, take her out, pop in for a cuppa and piece of cake.
Long may it continue. She has managed to find a solution for most of her problems, a way round normality that makes life easier for her. A lesson to us all.
Deer Doc, (did you see what I did there?)
It always seems to rain on a Bank Hol doesn't it? Mrs Wottle and I were going to take the tandem out but not in this weather. Last time we were out, we managed three miles on the flat, mostly around the market square and we were hoping to go further today. Never mind, another day.
Instead, we've been looking through some of my photos with a good strong cuppa and some rich tea biscuits and came across this one.
'Send it to the doc,' suggested Mrs Wottle. 'Cheer him up.'
Without even thinking for a moment I replied, 'Yes deer!'
How we laughed.
Popping in to see you as per tomorrow and have made a double appointment as I've a few things to ask you about and there's a form for you to sign. Mrs Wottle is going to make some scones for you and the other docs, so I'll bring those too. The skin tag has come off of its own accord but I'm afraid the rash down below has recurred. If I'm wearing my kilt, in the traditional manner, you'll understand why.
W Wottle Esq
PS this chap was in the field behind the house. Mrs W was weeding and crept back inside to get me and my trusty camera. Weren't we lucky?
(Click here to see more of Mr Wottle’s photos)