Friday, 10 August 2012


  I’m a northerner now and just as when a new medical student living in sooty King’s Cross I scoured the area for green spaces, so now I enjoy London only for friends and or art galleries, and that for only a short time.   I love the Dales landscape just as David (Lintott) loved the proximity of the mountains.   Having done a blog for Lawrence I have to give you a different slant for the forthcoming reunion.
        So this blog is from the viewpoint of Berkeley ,California in June 2012 when I stayed with Loretta Dorsett (Ko).    Some of you may remember Loretta:  she and I were part of a small group which included Roy Weller, David Barker and Jules Kimerling (who has sadly died ).   We repaired each lunchtime with bread and cheese bought on London Bridge to either the walls of Southwark Cathedral or went through Clink St (then grim, grey and Dickensian, not tarted up) to the riverside.   We looked over the Thames at the holes left by the bombing and now replaced by the Gherkin and the like.   Behind us the women of the egg factory which produced dried egg streamed out in their white coats and white head scarves tied up on their foreheads, for a fag.   We took little notice of them as we wrestled with thorny philosophical questions.     Anyway, Loretta and I shared happy memories of our flat in Trinity Rd ,Balham which we rented for our clinical years.   And towards the end of this time David was frequently there, every Saturday we revised all day and then went out in the evening. When I passed my finals the elderly landlady was relieved ‘I nearly telephoned your mother to say you wouldn’t pass - with your boyfriend there all Saturday’.
           Loretta and I mused in June about that era.   It was before female medical students or indeed anyone thought about gender equality.   We merely thought we were lucky to be at Guy’s, a male medical school much superior to the Royal Free which was all women.   I am aware that I probably owed my place, at least in part, to my GP in Leicester, who sent many private patients to Dr Douthwaite; he put a good word in for me.   On my first day I felt a raw provincial high school girl overwhelmed by those female students with connections or from privileged backgrounds.  Loretta remembers a firm dinner at the Cheshire Cat where the conversation after dinner turned blue.   An Australian locum surgeon turned to the house surgeon and told him to escort her out as the talk was not suitable for women.   He escorted her out but not home.
            I remember my engagement to David: we stitched up an old drunk in Front Surgery, one on each side of his face.  When first married we also had little time off together, usually one doing a 1 in 3 rota and the other doing a 1 in 2 then reversing.    I remember when his mother gave an engagement party for us in Horsham.   I took 24 hr off from my AHS job with Robert Brain and he rang in and was not amused to find me away.  I got a bad reference – there was no fixed time off, and I failed to get more than a total of 6 months on the house.    He also predicted that, as I had got engaged only 2 weeks into his job, I would not continue a career in Medicine.   In fact, as one of the first Rheumatologists to become a specialist in Rehabilitation Medicine, I became one of the first Presidents of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine and of the Society for Research in Rehabilitation.   I also became one of only 4 female Professors in the University of Leeds when made one in 1988 and the first female President of the European Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine.   But that’s enough – just to emphasize how wrong Robert Brain was!     We wondered how many female doctors went on to be registrars at Guy’s.    We could name Penny Hewitt but no-one else.    There were very few role models for us except the nice doctor who looked after the young women with sexually transmitted diseases (we were not allowed to go to the Seaman’s Hospital.)     Loretta went to Hong Kong where she did some very good work in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. There she met an American paediatrician, Robert Dorsett and married him.   They have 2 daughters and they still enjoy life together in Berkeley.   Loretta looked after the medical needs of new immigrants from such countries as Vietnam for many years and they both published poetry.   Robert continues to translate from Chinese and goes to the Berkeley campus daily.  Loretta is happily retired.

David  at our youngest son Mathew's graduation.
                In 1963 David Lintott and I were married and went to live in Blackheath doing virtually all the jobs around there till we went into central London, David to be a registrar at St Thomas’s in Radiology and I to be one in Rheumatology at the Middlesex.   David was offered a Consultant appointment at Leeds in 1971 (then there were 7 good men, now there are 70 consultants in that department ).   David was very happy with good colleagues and did much pioneering work on Interventional gastro–intestinal radiology but it was all before MRI and CT made such huge changes in practice.    He was a very good climber, a member of the Swiss Alpine Club and the Alpine Club and he did several ascents in India and one on Mount Elbrus.   Then ,there were no mobiles or e-mails so when he went I did not know if or when I would see him again.    Sadly, David got an aggressive form of Ca. prostate and died at the age of 60-too young for our boys and before he could know the lovely grand daughter I now have.   We had hoped we would spend much of our retirement in the French Alps walking that lovely area. It would have been a delight after 2 hectic careers and bringing up 3 boys.  But sadly it was not to be.
            As I hinted, I worked in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation with the charismatic Prof Verna Wright for 25 most happy and productive years, setting up a network of services and an academic Unit.   I retired around 2007 but continue to supervise International Health students in the University and a few other things . To occupy myself ,perhaps, I teach rehabilitation in Madagascar. It’s a challenge which is bigger than I have ever known –but I can do it my way!
           I am using a lifetime of experience in a country where they have no spinal injuries services (as before 1942 and Guttmann ) and where a population of 22 million is served by some 9 doctors in the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine (but they were just seconded from general practice) with physiotherapists. There are some 170 for the country, the same number as for the city of Leeds, and no Occupational Therapists They get virtually no continuing education. And the politics is chaotic . But they are a lively and highly motivated group whom I and others teach 3 times a year We taught them about audits doing one of their departments to see if disabled people could get in them and around them. They could not, in the main. Now they have produced standards for the country. Perhaps more importantly, the teaching has previously been mainly pedagogic and theoretical .
                                                                                So my excellent training at Guy’s those 50 years ago is being transmitted to them. With no CTs and no MRIs they rely, as we used to, on the elicitation of signs and symptoms.   I had thought I would take up ceramics and perhaps I should have.  But I am happy teaching to those who are glad to learn – even if my French leaves much to be desired.            
         Anne Chamberlain

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