We are an instant fix society.
Everything is accessible and available at the click of a button. In the shops we have instant checkouts, coffee to go or drive through for a takeaway. On line we can book holidays, order in the night and have delivery in the day, have news from around the world the minute it is available and all 24 hours a day.
If we have to wait we get indignant, angry and frustrated. Healthcare is heading in the same direction - same day appointments, instant out of hours access and walk-in centres.
I am not convinced it is all good.
I see patients who have woken up with a sore throat, had a headache for two hours or have a single spot on their arm.
They want an instant diagnosis and treatment and are not happy when I say we sometimes have to wait. We have to wait for things to take their course, become apparent and reveal what it really going on. We sometimes just have to wait for things to get better themselves. The single spot today may show itself as chicken pox tomorrow. The headache may go with a paracetamol or develop into a migraine.
Sometimes we just have to wait and see.
Then there is the request for a quick fix for depression and anxiety - a tablet rather than counselling, a tranquiliser rather than taking time to change a thought pattern. I always take time to try and get to the root and find out what the real problem is. However many times the patient doesn’t want to have to invest time and effort or go through the pain involved in resolving the root issue.
We like quick-build flat-pack rather than solid constructions carefully crafted.
Someone said to me recently that you can grow beansprouts in a day, but a fruit tree takes years to grow. The investment and time and patience that goes into the orchard, literally and metaphorically, bears fruit in the long run.
There are only so many things you can do with beansprouts!
We can end up fooled into thinking that quick is best and instant is necessary. We forget the refreshment that comes as we amble slowly to the local shops and admire the blossom on the trees, or the fact that our five minutes chat with a neighbour helped them get through the day.
Sometimes it is in the time taken resting and allowing a wound to heal that we realise what really matters.
So I persevere with my patients - encouraging them to have a long term view, to invest now believing for fruit in the future, to be willing to dig out the crumbling, faulty foundations so the house can be secure and firm for a lifetime.
Sometimes they listen, sometimes they actually put it into practice - and one of the most satisfying things is when they come back a year down the line and tell me it was worth it!
Dr Mary Wren