It's been a testing month at the surgery. Two of the partners have been forced to take time off sick. "Forced" is the appropriate description and contrasts with our salaried doctors, who usually only require a gentle nudge to hand in their sick notes.
One of the partners suffered a slipped disc. This was by no means trivial – such was the prolapse that he lost power in his right foot. Not even I can insist that he come to work when he can't use the accelerator pedal. Mind you, I've driven around for two weeks with cruise control on (I always wondered what the green light meant; skidding round the ring road at 60 seemed a little fast).
The other partner is off with a more serious condition that will require him to dig into his undoubtedly deep reserves of fortitude. It's a massive loss to the practice that not even a small army of locums could compensate for.
Our surgery Christmas "do" is this Saturday, and it has proved testing already. It's not as if the seating plan is out yet! Usually the Christmas party is held after Christmas, but we've pushed the boat out this year. We've hired a bus, and may even have Christmas lights to guide us to our swanky city-centre eatery! No expense has been spared.
The plummeting temperatures of late may have accounted for the queues outside our surgery. We seem to have haemorrhaged appointments, and no amount of emergency/extra appointments have stemmed the tide. It begins to feel like them against us – a dire philosophy.
But let's face it: my monthly whinge is pretty small-fry compared with the challenges that others are facing at these difficult times.
And, on a positive note, the registrars are leaving and their e-portfolios are up-to-date. They even seem to have enjoyed their time at the surgery, although I haven't seen their end-of-term/season reports.
My hopes for the remainder of the year are that we finally get the go-ahead for the new build and, more importantly, that Woolworths is somehow saved. What will I do without my last-minute source for children's presents?
In fact, I must rush out now to get 23 ironing board covers – it may be my last chance. Merry Christmas!