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That burning platform feeling

 
Thursday, 16 February 2017

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.

Patient: Sorry.

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

@jtweeterson
julian.patterson@networks.nhs.uk

 
Andrew Rix
Andrew Rix says:
Feb 18, 2017 11:53 AM

A motor mechanic writes:
You have nothing to fear from Scientifically Treated Petroleum (STP) as long as you don’t swallow it. It has been around since about 1921 and, although the formula has changed slightly, the combination of molybdenum and zinc dithiophosphate as an anti-wear additive may be effective in improving performance. Many successful endurance competitions of new high performance engines have been attributed to the formula, which effectively stops the active ingredients of lubricants breaking down under conditions of high temperature and pressure.
The problems come when STP is added to machinery that is effectively clapped out and the existing lubricant is not completely expunged from the system. Stickers attached to the ancient mechanism, often accompanied by a re-spray and other cosmetic changes, encourage newly appointed drivers to believe that the machinery has been given a complete new lease of life. The result is that the old banger works well for a short while but other parts of the system are put under such strain that they beak down altogether, often leaving passengers at the roadside with nowhere to go and no means of getting there.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Feb 18, 2017 03:15 PM

Impressive knowledge of STP chemistry, though I think you'll find that it was reformulated to cut costs. The main ingredient is now snake.

Andrew Rix
Andrew Rix says:
Feb 18, 2017 08:31 PM

Oh dear,
Adulterating the product is likely to produce emulsification, rendering the lubricant useless as it whips up to the mineral equivalaent of Chantilly cream and leads to the internal mechanisms smashing each other to pieces.
The use of pure snake oil has never been tried in this conrext but I'm sure we could come up with a suitable RCT design to try this out if the cash was right.