OK, so there I was, sat in my surgery having my little Monday morning meltdown. Through the blur of tears I could just make out the figure of my practice manager who had guessed that all was not well. Between sobs I just about managed to get across what I was feeling at that moment. PM was understanding, and went straight to my PC to review the daylist. Within a couple of minutes PM had determined which patients could be rebooked, blocked some time out and sat down to discuss the day with me.
We agreed that the patients PM had selected (long appointments but non-urgent – no risk of decay/deterioration – and unlikely to moan about the change) could be rebooked and some of the space freed used for the inevitable emergency appointments which would have to come from my absent colleague. I was the only dentist in the building and would have to try to manage the day as best I could.
For those who have raised the question in the forum, yes I am in primarily NHS practice, so service provision under the terms of the contract has to be managed.
PM told the staff I wasn’t feeling well and to restrict emergencies to pain/bleeding/swelling only (as per the local NHS dental triage system) to leave me some free time. PM also checked in on me when I did have space and ensured I went out for a breath of air at lunch. This was perhaps a less than ideal suggestion as my practice is near a river known for, shall we say, assisting suicidal thoughts.
I did avoid the urge to throw myself into the water, largely because it was a cold day and I’m not that good a swimmer. There were also a fair number of dog walkers nearby and I couldn’t face the thought of being potentially dragged from the water by a hyperactive spaniel..
I called the number for the counselling service my GP had given me, and was surprised to hear a calm, pleasant voice at the other end within a couple of rings. She was an angel sent from above, took all the broken sobbing and gibberish I spouted with charm and empathy, and ensured she got all my details to make arrangements for my first proper session with the therapist.
The afternoon went better, probably because I could see the end of the day and I had taken that next step to getting the help I needed. When I arrived home I burst into tears as the emotions rolled back over me like a wave, and the riptide dragged me straight down. I sat on the edge of the bed staring at my bag, and finally remembered the pills my GP had prescribed that morning. I knew they wouldn’t work straight away, but also knew I didn’t want to wait to start taking them. Washing the pill down with 2 bottles of lager was not on the prescription, but I wanted a little more anaesthesia.
My wife felt that I should take a couple of days off to help start my recovery, but of course I KNOW BEST, and ignored her advice. I continued at work through Tuesday & Wednesday, often fighting back tears in between patients, & snapping at the staff when anything went awry. My PM and nurse were very supportive but clearly didn’t know what was wrong (or weren’t going to confront me), and I wasn’t prepared to talk about it at that time. I was scheduled on a course on the Thursday but instead arranged the first counselling session for that morning as I felt that was a little more important than Safeguarding level 2. I could – and perhaps should – have arranged the counselling for the Tuesday, but I had patients booked and I know best!
To be continued……