I think of this and that as I cycle along Eendrachtstraat in the bustle of a Friday afternoon. People are walking towards me from all angles and cross my path awkwardly. And as they move their bodies in and out of the crowd, back and forth, it’s the little details that catch my eye: the flashy LV emblem on a pair of sunglasses, the pink glitter that adorns a businesswoman’s pumps, the autumnal colour of the three-piece suit of a man smoking a cigarette from a dromedary brand.

As recklessly as these details suddenly intoxicate me, I impetuously recall all kinds of details from the past week. It’s like an anthology of fear, revelations, relief and other such emotions.

The single tooth displayed by a baby as he laughed, when he playfully threw himself backwards from his mother’s breast, as if to prove indisputably and resolutely to his parents and to me that there was really nothing wrong.

The laconic way in which a young man in his early twenties peered at his phone while we tried to untwist his testicle with gloved hands, guided by ultrasound.

The blinkers of a man who, even with a perfectly horizontal ST segment in his ECG, was unwilling to believe that the cramp near his lowest ribs was not a heart attack.

The willowy, pinched finger joints of an elderly woman who hadn’t been to the GP all her life but had now come to meet us on the recommendation of her daughter-in-law.

I remember everything all at once, I see the details everywhere and it all works its way into me, the single teeth and the crooked glasses, the LVs and the crooked finger joints and the glitter on the pumps of a businesswoman and cataracts, styes, corns, rashes, ingrown nails; the tension and release of every consultation, every phone call, every I’m-already-halfway-out-the-door question, I survived and conquered it all and I stand up on my bike, cycling across Kruiskade, and take a deep breath in.

I can feel my lungs filling up with cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, particulate matter and weed. The sun is shining on my face. I close my eyes.  There’s a complete sense of release. I’m doing great and they won’t get the better of me. Everyone gets diagnosed. Everyone gets sent home with explanations and reassurance. Everyone can take two tablets of five hundred milligrams of paracetamol four times a day to relieve the pain, can contact a physiotherapist themselves if necessary, make sure that they move up to the pain threshold – and not beyond…

I open my eyes. The details make way for an exquisite and penetrating awareness of the picture that extends in front of me. I oversee the crowd, standing up on the pedals of my steel horse, and imagine myself as Don Quixote armed with a stethoscope and saturation meter. The street plays a melody of revving exhaust pipes and random shouts. I’ve let off steam, a sense of peace is returning and as I pedal my steel horse stoically once again, I realise that being a general practitioner isn’t so bad after all.

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Safe haven

It is slowly starting to dawn on columnist and medical student Dino Gačević that he is…

Dino Gačević is studying Medicine. During his medical internships, he is writing a column for Erasmus Magazine every month.