Emma Samms: The Doctor won’t see you now

I feel I must pay homage, say ‘Thank You’ to him, let him know that his many years of old fashioned

I feel I must pay homage, say ‘Thank You’ to him, let him know that his many years of old fashioned yet thoroughly modern General Practising has been not only been appreciated but has been life-changing - Credit: Archant

“The imminent retirement of my much-loved GP is outrageous and deeply unfair. I don’t care if he deserves some time off”

This month my GP of the past twenty years is retiring and I have already started hyperventilating at the prospect of not being able to go and see him anymore. He has always been kind, non-judgmental and an exceptionally good diagnostician. He has looked after my kids and me so well that I don’t care if he wants or deserves some time off, I find it outrageous and deeply unfair that he’s going to retire.

We got off to a poor start in our doctor/patient relationship. Having just moved back from the USA, I was under the impression that each National Health GP appointment was 5 minutes and no more, so in order to impart all the necessary information, I talked very, very fast. Also, having recently had some issues in a Los Angeles hospital where details of my medical records were leaked, I had some questions about where and how these would be stored.

Now, in retrospect, I totally understand why my doctor would have been left with the impression that I was in need of some sort of psychiatric intervention. He didn’t know I was an actress (there wasn’t enough time to explain all that, I only had 5 minutes after all) but fortunately one of the receptionists recognised me as I left and filled him in.

Over the years he’s been a brilliant GP. Always taking the time and asking enough questions to get to the root of a problem and never making one feel silly for even the silliest of concerns.

Possibly the best example of the level of understanding that he had for new mothers was the time I went in with my infant son and explained; “He’s perfectly well now but he wasn’t before and as soon as I made the appointment to see you he got better. If I’d cancelled the appointment then sod’s law he’d have become unwell again. So here we are. He’s fine. Thank you and goodbye”. Lovely man that he is didn’t laugh or embarrass me. Just waved at me as I left.

I know for a fact that it’s not just me that gets such special treatment. Mention his name to anyone in my town and chances are they’ll give the same response; a hand on their heart and a head tilt as they murmer his name. That man is well loved by one and all.

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I’ve been lucky enough to get to know his wonderful family too. The first time we got together socially was when my father’s canal boat was temporarily moored near Bath and a little boat ride followed by dinner onboard was planned. What wasn’t planned was the power failure to the entire electric system of the boat when we were about 2 miles away from our cars. We’d had dinner, watched the sun set and started to head back, only to find that the headlight on the front of the boat had stopped working. We had no choice but to inch our way back along the canal. I was steering, my friend was walking along the towpath shouting things at me like “In about twenty yards there’s a right turn” and my lovely GP was sitting at the front of the boat with a small torch, relaying last minute instructions. He, his wife and their children got home at 2am. Extraordinarily, this didn’t put an immediate halt to our families’ budding friendship.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that as I write this, I haven’t referred to my GP by name. The modest, limelight-hating chap that he is has banned me from nominating him for various community awards over the years and I know he’ll be furious with me for this as it is, even without my identifying him.

But I feel I must pay homage, say ‘Thank You’ to him, let him know that his many years of old fashioned yet thoroughly modern General Practising has been not only been appreciated but has been life-changing. This is the man who realised that walking down the stairs for the first time after you’ve had a baby is scary because you’ve got a baby in your arms and not in your belly so your centre of gravity has changed. On a home visit after the birth of my first baby he carefully helped me downstairs and explained the fear to me. These things you never forget. So, begrudgingly, I wish him a happy retirement with time to reflect on the very many lives he has improved in a most significant way. That’s more than most of us could ever wish for, surely?

Hear more from Emma Samms on Twitter! @EmmaSamms1