Saturday, 4 August 2012


Michel is back row on the left of the photo (just behind Lawrence Youlten notable by his height of 6ft 8ins)

I remember my years as a medical student as some of the most enjoyable I have known.    The dissection room was a revelation.   I can still recall the smell of  formalin  and grappling with the complexity of the brachial plexus.    Learning anatomy was rather like being force fed.    Like Rosemary Millis , I was one of Professor Hunt's laboratory animals, swallowing Ryle's tubes, also being fed brains every day over several weeks and collecting 24hr samples - something to do with phosphates.   At least we had some good     parties - one involving being taken to see The Crazy Gang at the Victoria Palace another a trip on the Thames, with Jazz and smoked salmon.    Speaking of jazz, I played the banjo in the Guy's jazz band  - the most generous description of which would be raw and earthy.   I remember watching the Guy's Rugby team winning the Hospitals Cup.   For some reason I was on a lorry with a lot of dental students, who were throwing bags of dental plaster around.    It was vital not to wash you hair afterwards, otherwise the plaster set solid.

For most of my time at Guy's, I lived in a room above a pub in the Walworth Road, belonging to the parents of a dental student called Eddie Chater.   Very congenial lodgings for a medical student and also very near the hospital.   Like many others, I found George Scott's preclinical course inspirational. I  remember him saying that to  be a good doctor you did not need to be very clever - just be thorough and be kind to your patients.   The thorough grounding we had in history taking was invaluable. There were examples of teaching which countered stereotypes - a surgical registrar who courteously introduced himself to patients on ward rounds, and asked permission for medical students to examine,  and a medical registrar  who gave us a lecture on heart failure following which he woke up a patient who had earlier been admitted and given medication and settled down to sleep.   

I made many good friends at Guy's, but the most significant thing I did was to meet Sue.    She was a Staff Nurse on the Neurology ward and I had been asked by my Godmother to visit a relative who was in for an arterial biopsy.   Staff Nurse Cox was not amused to have a a medical student on her ward and even less amused when I was given a cup of tea.   Fortunately things did improve after that, and we hope to celebrate our golden wedding next March.

I was particularly sad to hear about Carol Wengraf's sudden death,   since when I was doing an orthopaedic house job, she was doing  an ENT job.    One of my patients, who had a cervical fracture developed respiratory obstruction requiring tracheostomy.   Carol happened to be on the ward and talked me through  it.   Following pre-registration house jobs I did obstetric and paediatric jobs with a view to general practice.   Lo and behold Sue had an aunt in general practice in Ipswich who was looking for a junior partner just at the right time.

I enjoyed my time in general practice, during which time it has changed enormously.   When I started , we had no appointments and did a great number of home visits many of which were not necessary.   Most deliveries were at home, which were wonderful when they went well  - however waiting 40 minutes for the "flying squad" to arrive from the hospital half a mile away changed my mind.    There were less effective medicines, and not a few of the kind caricatured as linctus simplex(a solution of nothing) and linctus simplex pro inf.  (the same, diluted for children.)

We have three children, Richard, Tim and Lucy.   Like learning and practising medicine, a maturing and
richly rewarding experience.   I retired earlier than planned as my daughter-in-law Sarah developed a lymphoma requiring a bone marrow transplant at Addenbrook's and I wanted to be able to help.   She died just under 4 years ago.   Happily Richard and the children live in Ipswich and we are able to help and support.   Lucy has two daughters and our four grandchildren are a great delight to us.    I am a domestic animal so home and family , with a little gardening, cooking and playing bridge keep me happily occupied. 
                                            Michael Bradshaw

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