Long, long ago when I was just a wee lass, medical centres didn’t exist. Every family had a local doctor who they stuck with through every stage of their lives. The doctor ran his clinic out of ‘rooms’ that were more often than not, within his own home, and answering the phone and making the appointments was usually his wife or an older nurse no longer wanting to work on the wards.
Now these doctors did house calls and they did them with no notion or imaginings that they could be robbed or mugged because that just didn’t happen. At any time of the day or night if you couldn’t make it to their rooms they would pick up their doctor’s bag and arrive on your doorstep for a home visit. The doctor’s bag was a thing of great curiosity and they would set it down with ceremony on a table or a chair and pop open the brass locks. It was like Mary Poppins opening her carpet bag where it was a bottomless pit and you’d sit there wide-eyed, amazed and impressed at the assortment of instruments, equipment, bandages, pills and needles that emerged from the brown leather. No one was allowed to touch the doctor’s bag and no one ever did.
Our family doctor was Dr Glen and he worked from rooms within his own home and he also lived just across the street. As well as being a general practitioner he had that most important of necessities, a diploma in obstetrics. I remember crossing the street with my heavily pregnant mother for her obstetric appointment with Dr Glen. The waiting room was cold and dark and there would only be one small radiator heater on that was stuck high on the wall where the small amount of heat emitted was of no benefit to anyone.
The wooden chairs with leather upholstery were old and cold to sit on and you could feel the hard wire springs poking your bottom because the padding had worn through. The receptionist was always busy bashing about on an old noisy typewriter, typing two sheets of paper sandwiched with blue carbon. When the typewriter reached the end of a row it would make a ‘ding’ noise and then she’d pull the thing back and type again. Then the phone would ring and it was an old black phone with a centre dial where you had to put your finger in to dial each number but secretaries often used a pencil so they didn’t break a nail.
When it was my mother’s turn to see Dr Glen we walked into the room and after some small talk about how she was feeling he asked her to hop up onto the bed and he pulled out a funnel shaped gadget called a pinard and put the wider end on my mother’s tummy and he put his ear to the smaller end and with all that advanced technology he then proclaimed he could hear the baby’s heartbeat. He asked me if I would like to listen and I said I would so he stood me on a little wooden box and I listened but although I could hear noises I didn’t hear anything that sounded like the lub dub noise I was expecting.
The other visits I remember were those that came around all too frequently and this is when it was time for another needle. We’d be in his room and after hearing the reason for our visit he’d get up from his desk and walk to the end of his room where there was a long bench with an enormous steriliser and out of that would come the glass syringes and the needles that one day he told me he sharpened just for me. I was hardly put at ease. After being jabbed with the reusable needle I was given a bandaid and then my eyes focused on the large glass jar of jellybeans sitting front and centre on his desk. He would offer me a jelly bean but just one mind you as he didn’t want me to spoil my dinner.
Dr Glen looked after all seven of us for about 10 years.
A comforting dessert after a jab with a needle made everything seem better. Here’s a blast from the past that’s so simple it’s probably wrong of me to call it a recipe but my mother used to make this and I loved it and when I was old enough to handle boiling water, I made it too.
Degree of Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: This is a budget dessert. I don’t think desserts come any cheaper. This is less than $2.00!
- 1 x packet of jelly – any flavour, I used blackberry
- 375g tin of evaporated milk
Boil 1 cup of water and add to jelly crystals. Stir until crystals have dissolved. Place in fridge and allow to cool but not set. Pour into a large bowl and add evaporated milk. Whisk with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Place in fridge until set. Serve with fruit.
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