Tuesday, 13 September 2011

"Are you any good with things you don't understand?"

Such was today's greeting from one of my cheerful patients.

As a GP I inhabit a world of many medically unexplained phenomena. The textbooks next to my desk just don't seem to explain the unique individual sitting in front of me whose constellation of symptoms is ill-fitting for any known syndrome. Gone are the days of simply sending the patient away with 'it's all in the mind' ringing in their ears.

The fact remains that there is just so much we do not know and understand. Indeed rather counter-intuitively I remember being taught that there is an inverse relationship between the size of a medical text book and valuable knowledge of the condition written about. In other words the bigger the book the less we know!

'Medically unexplained' at least has some humility about it. Frustrating I know but at least neutral in its assessment.

That isn't to say that there's nothing I can offer. General principles are always worth considering. Try to get more and better sleep, look at your work-life balance, try to exercise regularly, eat healthily, lose weight, cultivate friendships, do random acts f kindness and be generous-none of these are likely to make the condition worse.

And what about Christian faith? The current onslaught against Christianity by Dawkins et al implies a kind of omniscience of the new atheists which I prefer to reserve for the creator God.

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