My (not so) Strange Addiction by Jo Bartlett

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m addicted… to watching medical documentaries.  It’s not the blood and gore that grips me, or even the drama of the pending diagnosis, it’s the emotions of the people involved. My favourite is probably 24 Hours in A&E, because they film talking head segments with the patients and their loved ones, alongside footage of the action in the emergency department itself.  These segments give such an insight into relationships, love, loss and the ties that bind, that each one could probably warrant a novel in itself.

With this addiction and the impact that the stories behind the emergencies have on me, I guess it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel with a medical theme.  A Highland Practice is set in the wilds of Scotland and, whilst it’s centred around a rural GPs’ surgery, it has its fair share of high octane emergency, between the more routine consultations.

I was in America recently and watched a documentary over there about a woman in India who was purportedly crying blood. To cut a long story very short, it turned out she was actually biting the inside of her cheek so hard that it bled, so she could use it to convince her family she was crying blood. Why? Because she’d suffered agonising stomach pains for years and no-one would take any notice of her. In the remote Indian village where she lived, it took the perceived threat of supernatural forces to make anyone notice her pain. The happy ending was that the doctors in the city realised what was happening, gave her a placebo for the crying (so her family were none the wiser about what she’d done) and operated to resolve her stomach pain.

Medical staff have to deal with all sorts of situations and it seems to me that as often as not the emotional and psychological needs of patients are just as demanding, if not more so, than the physical ones. I hope I’ve manged to capture that in A Highland Practice too. It’s got medical themes, of course, but ultimately it’s about people, friendships, love and the uniqueness of life in a rural community. And if you’re kind enough to download it, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did researching it.

Jo Bartlett

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