A dentist in shorts

6 03 2007

“Doctor G has not come back from Malawi” the receptionist said; “would I like to see Doctor P instead?” Considering that my tooth was all but fallen out I didn’t have much choice. 

Doctor P looked young enough to be my daughter (I don’t have one but you know what I mean) and not at all what I expected. She was petite, wore black rimmed glasses and had an impish smile and a sense of humour to match. I took an instant liking to her, not least because she is the first dentist I have ever come across wearing shorts in her practice! After all the usual questions regarding my health she got down to business. After a short while she was leaning heavily on my chest, scraping away at the offending tooth. This was almost pleasant! I managed to unclench my left fist and ostentatiously lay it flat on my stomach. At the end of it all I was told to come back in 4 to 6 weeks.

“Oh, but that’s going to be difficult” the receptionist said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well”, and she looked a bit uncomfortable, “we are not going to be here”.

It seems that doctor G is wrapping up her business and going off to the UK and cannot find anyone to take it over. I wondered if perhaps she was asking too much for the business; she does after all drive a very new looking Benz SLK. “What about doctor P?” “Oh, she’s going back to the States” she replied. 

I really cannot blame anyone for wanting to leave Zimbabwe at the moment, I can even sympathize with them but this is the first time that I have been directly affected by a health professional leaving. I suppose it had to happen. They have been leaving in steadily increasing numbers, frustrated by the poor working conditions, the difficulty in obtaining raw materials and ever increasing hours as other professionals shed their work loads. There is one specialist physician left in the country.

I paid for the appointment and a second hand book that was on sale amongst a whole lot of pulp fiction (Robin Cook et al.) on the mantelpiece (the book was more than the appointment though my medical aid paid for most of it). It was a Zadie Smith book that I’d heard about some years before. I looked at the comments and reviews on the back cover; yes, this was the one I was looking for. Only when getting into the car did I take note of the title; “White Teeth”. 


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2 responses

7 03 2007
Bev Clark

I liked this a lot. Thanks. Why do you think foreign dentists are arriving and local dentists are leaving? I’ve just had a molar taken out by Dr Paul (his surname is very difficult to pronounce, never mind spell). I’ve haven’t read White Teeth (wish I had some) yet but Zadie Smith’s On Beauty is well worth a read.

8 03 2007
Andy

Greener grass I guess. Also an inability for Serbs to easily work in the EU. My doctor came out in 1997 which was poor timing but he gets by. He says that he gets to live in a nice house; in Jersey where he comes from he could not afford a carport. His kids get a better education than he could afford in the UK and he sort of likes Africa! And of course the weather is excellent.

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