The year I turned one was a year of firsts. First word, first steps, first tooth, and most likely a whole heap of first illnesses and injuries. In the early years my health was overseen by the local Plunket nurse and our GP Dr McNaughton. Although I don’t remember these early visits as I got older I came to realise that he was the nice man who ensured that we always had large bottles of Paracetamol and cough syrup on the bench in the kitchen. Dr NcNaughton was replaced by Dr Maunsell in my early teens and was my main Dr until I was in my early 20’s. I experimented with a few other doctors over the next few years as I moved around before settling on Dr Mike (Newman) in Rotorua for almost 20 years.
Along side these General practitioners who dealt with the everyday medical needs were the specialists to whom they had referred me for more complex matters from anaemia to pregnancy and thyrotoxicosis. Many of these medical matters will be explored in further posts but at this stage it is worthy to note that the medical attention required by a baby (as I was in 1964) required the skill and attention of a medical professional who treats you as a person, rather than “next please”. I have been very fortunate to have had three exceptional Doctors through my life that got to know my medical history in a comprehensive manner…..I miss this so much now when our local Medical Centres are much less personal.
I was fortunate to also have an older sister, Anne-Louise, who caught most childhood illnesses before me and kindly shared them with me. I guess I wasn’t that appreciative of her ‘sharing’ and as we got older we shared less and less – thankfully we have grown up and regained our ability to share our lives with each other and it is in this spirit of sharing that I share with you one of her baby pics. Rather cute she was then and still is.
While on the matter of being fortunate….. My mother is a nurse. Through her pragmatic approach to our illnesses, bumps and bruises; her practical, no nonsense explanations; her ability to see lots of blood and not outwardly panic; willingness to try alternatives; and her ability to teach I was able to learn enough about medicine to hold my own in medical setting to the extent that Doctors often think I have had medical training. Informally I did have medical training and it has helped me negotiate my own and others medical mazes with the ability to read charts, ask appropriate questions and understand the answers. If that wasn’t enough I could always, and still do, call Mum for a consult.