That burning platform feeling
The latest in our occasional “consulting room” series, in which an ordinary member of the public gets 10 minutes to talk about an embarrassing medical condition with a doctor. This week: what happens if you think you have an STP?
Doctor: What can I do for you today?
Patient: I’m worried I may have an STP.
Doctor: Ah, I see. Tell me about your symptoms.
Patient: General feelings of anxiety about the NHS, trouble sleeping. Oh and I’ve started worrying about social care as well.
Doctor: I’m afraid we can only talk about one condition at a time. If you want to discuss social care you’ll need to make another appointment.
Doctor: Don’t mention it. When did you first notice something was wrong?
Patient: Ever since 2012 I’ve had this feeling that people were making decisions about me without me, but lately it’s got much worse. Am I going mad?
Doctor: Possibly, but if you want to talk about mental health you’ll need to…
Patient: …make another appointment, I know. Sorry.
Doctor: Any other symptoms? Irritability, a tendency to shout at the television when the news comes on, a general sense of indignation?
Patient: Yes, all of that. Am I going to be alright?
Doctor: That depends on whether you get ill, have an accident or need to go to hospital in the next few years.
Patient: So have I got an STP or not?
Doctor: You may be surprised to hear that everyone has one. It’s just that most of us aren’t aware of it because we never develop any symptoms. Even with a full-blown STP most people can go on to lead a perfectly normal life.
Patient: So it’s not going to get worse?
Doctor: We don’t think so. Most STPs are benign and will lay dormant for years before simply disappearing. We’ve seen it all before with the health and wellbeing board scare a few years ago. That turned out to be nothing to worry about too.
Patient: But I read in the papers that STPs could be really dangerous if you don't keep an eye on them.
Doctor: You don’t want to believe everything you read. All the ones we know about are harmless but we can never rule out the appearance of a more virulent strain. A so-called active STP could spread panic to the population and in extreme cases bore everyone to death.
Patient: That’s really frightening.
Doctor: Don’t worry. There would have to be actual contact with the public and as far as we know that’s never happened.
Patient: So there’s nothing you can give me just in case? Antibiotics, antidepressants?
Doctor: I don’t think so at this stage. Come back if your symptoms get worse or if your local hospital is reconfigured without warning.
Patient: Thanks for putting my mind at rest.
Doctor: Not at all. Please close the practice on your way out. I’m off to New Zealand.
Medical editor: Julian Patterson