DR JONATHAN HARKER AND THE POST EVENING SURGERY HOME VISIT

JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL – OCTOBER 28TH 2022

It has been another long hard day at the practice and one made harder still but my colleague Dr Mina Seward not arriving for work this morning. As yet I have not heard from her and so can only imagine what dreadful fate may have befallen her. I can’t help but wonder if the cause of her non attendance is the same that as has resulted in the mysterious disappearance of so many GPs and practice nurses from medical centres up and down the country these past few years.

I long now to go home but I still have work to do. As has always been the case, many of my patients have been presenting lately saying that they feel persistently tired but, unlike times past when blood tests were almost always normal, latterly I have seen more and more results indicating iron deficient anaemia as a cause for their malaise. I was just dealing with two such results and hoping that 6.30 would arrive without any further calls when Lucy, one of our wonderful receptionists, appeared at my door.

‘I’m sorry to disturb you Dr Harker’, she said, grimacing a little as she watched me grab a clumsy bite from the chicken and garlic mayo sandwich I’d brought for my lunch but had, up until now, been too busy to eat. ‘But there’s a Mr Renfield on the phone asking for a home visit for the elderly man he cares for. The gentleman is question has only this week registered with the practice having moved here from Eastern Europe. From Romania I believe.’

I sighed heavily and asked Lucy to put the call through to me. She hurried off and a moment later the phone on my desk was ringing. I picked up the receiver and asked the caller how I might help.

‘You must come at once’, came the reply, ‘my master is in need of a doctor.’

Somewhat unsettled by the guttural tones of the voice on the end of the line and the unusual title he had given the man for whom he was seeking help, I asked the man to give a reason for why I should attend.

‘He is so dreadfully pale’, the man explained. ‘And he has been unrousable all day.’

‘All day?’ I replied, my tone of voice failing to conceal how irritated I felt that he’d waited until now, just minutes before we were due to close, to request a visit. ‘Why didn’t you call earlier?’

‘My master is sometimes a little batty and he doesn’t like to be disturbed in the day on account of his severe dislike of bright lights’ the man explained. ‘So, please, come quickly. I will see you in my master’s ancestral home shortly’ he added before abruptly ending the call without affording me the chance to ask anything more.

And so, resigning myself to a late end to the working day, I phoned reception and asked Lucy to bring me a printout of the patients details. She was trembling when she arrived back at my room.

‘You will be careful won’t you Dr Harker?’ she quivered as she handed me the single sheet of paper, marking herself with the sign of the cross as she did so. Her behaviour unsettled me still further, but when I looked at the details of where I was to go, my sense of unease turned to one of dread for the address which Lucy had circled with a bright green marker pen was nowhere other than Castle Dracula.

And so it is that I complete this entry in my journal not knowing when I will write in it again.

JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL (continued) – OCTOBER 29th 2022 – 2am

The details of my visit to Castle Dracula are such that I can barely bring myself to put them down on paper. I long for my bed and the refuge of sleep but, recognising the importance of having contemporaneous records should this nights events ever be questioned, I make this entry in my journal and hope that those who read it do not doubt my sanity.

After wishing Lucy a good night and promising her I’d see her on Monday, I made my way to my car. I entered the postcode of Castle Dracula into the sat nav and set off at the mercy of that ubiquitous electronic device. It wasn’t long before the streets with which I was familiar were far behind me and I found myself directed along a road I’d never frequented before. Trees loomed over me, the moonlight casting sinister shadows as it shone through their gnarled and twisted branches, and I thought I could hear the baying of wolves in the distance. Later I passed through a tunnel and, emerging on the other side, was on a drive bordered by great frowning rocks. And then, all too soon, Castle Dracula emerged through the mist and the inappropriately upbeat voice of the sat nav confirmed that I had indeed reached my destination. I left my car and, with my medical bag in my hand, made my way across the courtyard to a large wooden door. There was no response to my knock but the ever efficient Lucy had provided me with the number of the property’s key safe and so I was able to unlock the door and swing it wide open.

Passing through the thick stone doorway I found myself in a cavernous hall. Though I was clearly completely alone, I nonetheless felt that I was being scrutinised by one more intent on causing me harm than even the most officious of CQC inspectors.

I tried to call out a greeting but my words, so laced with fear, seemed hesitant to leave my mouth. ‘Is anyone there?’ I murmured, ‘It’s the doctor’.

The sound of footsteps caused me to turn and then I saw him, slowly descending the great stone staircase that dominated the space in which I stood. He was a tall man, clean shaven and, save for the blood red lining of the cape he wore, clad all in black from head to foot.

‘Good evening, Dr Harker. I am Count Dracula – I’ve been dying to meet you. Welcome to my home. It is good of you to have come.’

‘Not at all’ I replied, endeavouring to hide the frustration I felt having seen the man appear so well and, therefore, not someone who was in need of a home visit. ‘How can I help?’

By now Dracula had made it down to the bottom of the stairs and had positioned himself alongside me. He put his arm around my shoulder and ushered me to an armchair and indicated that I should take a seat. He picked up a decanter of red wine that stood on the sideboard.

‘Would you like a drink Dr Harker?’ he asked, before adding ‘I never drink wine myself but you would be most welcome to a glass’

I thanked him for his kindness but declined his offer and expressed instead my eagerness to get on with the work in hand. Dracula sat in a chair opposite me and smiled. And it was then that I first saw them – his set of teeth dominated as they were by oversized and sharply pointed canines.

‘I don’t mean to be rude’, I said, indicating by way of waving my finger in the general direction of my own mouth that I had noticed his distinctive dental disposition. ‘But have you seen a dentist about those?’

‘Are you kidding me’, Dracula replied, stifling a laugh. ‘You can’t get to see a dentist on the NHS these days, not for love nor money. I’ve tried the dental helpline no end of times and they’re no help either. And not even I can afford to go private. Have you seen how much they charge to just see the hygienist?’

‘I can sympathise with you there. But I trust it’s not dental advice that you are looking for from me because I’m not a dentist and those who think I’m able to help with dental problems leave me climbing the walls’

‘You climb the walls too Dr Harker? You surprise me, I thought that was something only I could do. Even so, do not fear. My concerns are not of a dental nature. Rather I am concerned that I may be anaemic and in need of another transfusion.’

‘Another transfusion you say. Is that something you need frequently?’

‘Almost daily’ Dracula replied. ‘Can I ask you something Dr Harker? Are you diabetic? And do you by any chance take statins?’

‘Why do you ask?’ I replied, unnerved by the way the consultation was progressing.

‘Oh no reason’ Dracula replied. ‘It’s just that I’ve something of a sweet tooth and, for a while now, have been trying to follow a low fat diet. One’s got to try and maintain one’s figure’. The strange man muttered something about hoping that I didn’t have high blood pressure because he’d only just had the ceiling redecorated before smiling at me again though, this time, there was a sinisterness to his way he curled his lips and I thought I noticed, albeit for only a moment, a look of malevolence in his eyes.

Seeming to want to restore the former conviviality, Dracula then asked me how things were going in General Practice and I indicated to him how some days it felt as though one was banging one’s head against the wall. Dracula’s eyes lit up as if seeing the opportunity he’d been waiting for to shoe horn into the narrative a line he’d had planned for some time.

‘Ah yes’, he said. ‘I once went to see a doctor who was as frustrated as you indicate you are. When I arrived he’d banged his head against the wall so hard that he had knocked himself out. Ironically, because he was on anticoagulants, the very thing that made him such a pleasure for me to visit, he had been taken to casualty for a precautionary head scan and so wasn’t in the surgery that day to see me’

‘You mean…’

‘Yes, that’s right. He was out for the Count!’

Dracula laughed rather more than his attempt at humour warranted before, suddenly no longer amused, he fixed me with his steely eyes.

‘But enough of this idle chit chat, Dr Harker. It is time that you gave me what I need. It is time that you gave me your blood’,

With that he rose from his chair and took a step toward me. Then, bearing his teeth, he stooped forward and brought his mouth ever closer to my neck as I sat there, motionless, too terrified to move. But just as I began to feel his breath on my skin he suddenly recoiled from me and took two paces back.

‘What is that on your lapel Dr Harker. It’s disgusting’ he hissed.

I looked down at the gloopy mess that had congealed there and recognised it as a dollop of the garlic mayonnaise that had once been an integral component of my long delayed lunch. I made my apologies for my unprofessional appearance as Dracula, regaining his composure, sat back in his chair once more.

‘Never mind, Dr Harker. The life may be in the blood but there are other ways to suck the life out of you, just as I have from countless other medial professionals before you.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked incredulous now of what I was hearing.

‘Oh it is so simple. First I like to suggest that everyone is awesome and that they can all be exactly what they want to be. Then I encourage the medicalisation of normality and make those who deliver health care responsible for solving problems which aren’t theirs to fix. This propagates the notion that every ill can be fixed by a visit to the doctor and soon the burden on those working in healthcare who come to believe that the happiness of the whole world depends on them, becomes intolerable. Throw in the consequences of a worldwide pandemic, insufficient social care and and ever longer waits for ambulances, outpatient appointments and surgical procedures, and it is only a matter of time before medial personnel are falling by the wayside and not being replaced. And don’t forget a hostile media. Did you hear my very own press pack baying at you as you arrived here tonight?’

‘But why would you do such a thing?’ I asked Dracula, the life ebbing from me and my thoughts turning to early retirement as his words began to do their devilish work within me’

‘Quite simply – because I’m evil’, he replied. ‘I can’t help it Dr Harker. After all, I’m only inhuman’

Dracula laughed again, a wicked, gleeful laugh the like of which I’d never heard before.

‘You fiend! It’s about time you took a long hard look at yourself in the mirror’

‘That’s not going to happen’, the Count replied. ‘It’s simply not possible. Reflection never was my thing! Rest assured though, Dr Harker, I will bleed the NHS dry, on that you have my word. I’ve already destabilised the system by working my way through no end of Health Secretaries. Recently I’ve been particularly successful and have caused the demise of several in a matter of just a few weeks. Like so many healthcare professionals, most have gone forever and will never be seen again. That said, one Health Secretary has returned to his post after I preyed on him some weeks ago. But no matter – it’s good to have one of the undead stalking the corridors of power!’

By now Dracula was pacing around the hall ever more exhilarated by what he was telling me. In his excitement, however, he hadn’t noticed that, though desperately weakened by all that was being described, I had managed to get back onto my feet and make my way to the door where I had left my medical bag when I had first entered the castle. Realising what it was I needed to do, I pulled from it a sharp wooden object and made my way slowly towards the man I now recognised to be nothing less than a vampire.

‘There is one thing though that you have forgotten Dracula’, I shouted. ‘I am a stakeholder!’

Dracula turned to look at me. Horrified by my words his eyes were now wide open and filled with unbridled rage

‘And I’m not on my own’, I continued. ‘All those who work alongside me, and every patient too, we’re all stakeholders in the NHS and we will overcome your evil plan.’

Mustering every ounce of the energy I possessed I threw myself at Dracula and knocked him to the ground whereupon I drove the wooden peg straight through the monster’s soon to be no longer beating heart. Were he still able to feel such irritation, the upshot of my actions would have particularly irked the Count because, as a result of his recent poor compliance with antihypertensive medication, the ceiling was now, once again, in need of a clean.

The deed done, I collapsed into the armchair in which I’d previously sat. Despite the horror of all that had taken place I was left with a deliciously sanguine feeling as it dawned on me how, by single handedly vanquishing a great evil, I had simultaneously secured the long term future of the NHS. I looked over towards the sideboard and, noticing that the decanter of wine was still there. thought to myself that I would, perhaps, have a drop of the red stuff after all.

EXTRACT OF THE MINUTES OF A PRACTICE SIGNIFICANT EVENT MEETING – OCTOBER 31st 2022

Dr Harker presented the case of Count Dracula who had requested an inappropriate home visit claiming the need for blood products when in fact his desire had been nothing short of bringing down the whole of the NHS. Despite a complaint having been received from Mr Renfield regarding Dr Harker’s behaviour on the evening in question, all those present at the SEA agreed that Dr Harker had acted entirely appropriately throughout. Though it was understandable why he hadn’t, it was however noted that Dr Harker had failed to sever the head from the body of his patient and stuffed its mouth with garlic as per the most recent NICE guidelines on the management of vampiric manifestation. Dr Harker promised to reflect on his error of omission and assured everyone that he would discuss it formally at his upcoming appraisal.

Anyone wishing to apply for the vacancy created by the disappearance of Dr Mina Seward will find the job advertisement below. Please be assured that local vampiric activity is now in decline!


Related blogs regarding the difficulties with the NHS:

To read ‘On being overwhelmed’, click here

To read ‘I’ll miss this when we’re gone’, click here

To read ‘General Practice – still a sweet sorrow’, click here

To read ‘General Practice – is time running out?’, click here

And some more unlikely stories:

To read ‘Mr Benn – the GP’, click here

To read ‘A GP called Paddington’, click here

To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Deserted Medical Centre’, click here

To read ‘Bagpuss and the NHS’, click here

To read ‘A Dream of an Antiques Roadshow’, click here

To read ‘The NHS Emporium’, click here

To read ‘Mr McGregor’s Revenge – A Tale of Peter Rabbit’, click here

To read ‘Jeepy Leepy and the NHS’, click here

To read ‘The Three Little GPs and the Big Bad Secretary of State for Health’, click here

To read ‘Dr Wordle and the Mystery Diagnosis’, click here

To read ‘The Happy Practice – A Cautionary Tale’, click here

To read ‘The Scrooge Chronicles’, click here

To read ‘Jeeves and the Hormone Deficiency’, click here

To read ‘General Practices are Go!’, click here

To read ‘A Mission Impossible’, click here

To read ‘A Grimm Tale’, click here

To read ‘The General Practitioner – Endangered’, click here

To read ‘The State of Disrepair Shop’, click here

And finally, to read ‘Monsters’, click here

8 responses to “DR JONATHAN HARKER AND THE POST EVENING SURGERY HOME VISIT”

  1. Really entertaining nearly spat out coffee on,
    ‘Out for the Count’
    ‘I’m only inhuman’
    And inappropriate use of ‘Stakeholder’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment – much appreciated. I’m glad you enjoyed my attempt to amuse!

      Like

  2. Fab! Love it. Thanks for the Saturday morning entertainment 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – appreciate you taking the time to comment! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Like

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