This particular lady was not a regular patient of mine and, as it soon transpired, not a great fan of general practice as a whole. She had spent the best part of the last week running to the toilet every 10 minutes to piss a couple of teaspoonfuls of what felt like battery acid.
The bottle of arnica (or whatever the hell it was) had not made any difference. As a last resort, she had consulted her GP.
‘It sounds very much to me like you have a urinary tract infection,’ I told her. ‘We’ll take a urine sample, but in the meantime I’ll give you a prescription for this antibiotic. It’ll probably do the job, but I’ll tell you the day after tomorrow if it’s the wrong one.’
‘It’s a chemical, isn’t it?’ she queried.
‘Well, yes, it is. Like everything else you consume.’
‘I’d rather have something natural, from a plant’ she told me.
‘I’d rather be at home watching telly, but life’s not like that,’ I parried. Her brow furrowed.
‘Why don’t you do homeopathy at this surgery?’ she asked.
I don’t normally get involved in arguments about homeopathy, because people who want to argue in its favour are, by definition, people who cannot manage a rational argument, but she was provoking me.
‘Because it’s a crock of shite,’ I told her.
I had pressed the wrong button. Five minutes later, after a farrago of specious garbage, she asked me why I wasn’t listening to my patients and providing the service they demanded.
‘Because you’re the only one who’s ever asked for it, because it’s ludicrous and nonsensical, and because this is my practice and I don’t want it and won’t have it. Any further questions?’
She didn’t have any, but I could tell she wasn’t happy. I suspect I won’t be seeing much more of her in the future, although I’m willing to bet she took the cefalexin.
Now, some people might think that your humble, free-marketeering Devil should be supporting the "customer" in this instance. However, there are a couple of reasons why I don't.
First, there is a certain amount of training required to be a doctor and, when I go to a trained professional of any stripe—be it lawyer, accountant, whatever—I do so because I want them to advise me, not the other way around.
Second, homeopathy is a crock of shite.