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Thursday, 12 August 2010
It Started With A Snore - Part 2
The continuing story of my brush with the medical profession:
Anyway, I finally got in to see a Doctor. Not, of course, at the appointed time. The appointment is simply a work of fiction designed to keep the waiting room full and the receptionist’s PC tidy. The major improvement in the NHS, with its new focus on ‘customer care’, is that they now apologise for your wait, whereas before you were just supposed to grin and bear it. They don’t, of course, mean it. If they did, they would do something about it. No, this is the Public Sector (and it seems to be pretty widespread) equivalent of “Have a Nice Day”. At my last appointment, the Doctor opened the consultation with the immortal words, “Sorry you have been kept waiting, I’ll have to keep this short if I’m to catch up” which I thought rather missed the point!
This last appointment was the culmination of two year’s of sporadic visits to the Doctor (I was going to say “to my Doctor” but as I’ve never seen the same one twice, it is a bit tricky to know who that is supposed to be) to try to get something done about my snoring/sleep apnoea. Throughout this time, the Doctor and I have been involved in the long dance in which I seek to see a Specialist and he does everything in his power to avoid referring me. Therefore, I have been sequentially urged to; lose weight (tick), cut down on my drinking (tick), and take regular exercise designed to increase my upper body strength (tick again – I may be suffering from ticks!). All of these things, I’m sure, have been beneficial but haven’t made a blind bit of difference to my snoring/sleep apnoea (you always know an ailment is getting serious when the spelling gets weird). It is at this point that you realise that the primary function of the G.P. is to keep you as far away as possible from the rest of the NHS at any cost (which is, of course, what they are trying to avoid…any cost). On this occasion, I must have caught him in a generous mood, or he had just run out of alternative therapies, because I recounted my symptoms yet again and asked to be referred – and I was!
At the same time as all of this was going on, I attended my regular biennial appointment with the Optician. Like most people of my age, I discovered some time ago that if I was ever to read small print again, I would either have to get longer arms or glasses. As a consequence, every two years I get shut into a small, darkened room with a total stranger who crawls all over me, pointing a piercing light into my previously untroubled eye, and getting closer to me than is usually possible without going through a form of marriage. As a matter of interest, why does having one’s eyes tested mean being plunged into a dark room and having a piercing white light shone into the pupils? Intuitively, it doesn’t seem like the wisest of ideas, does it? My particular bête noir is the glaucoma test in which a puff of air is directed at each eye. Surely I can’t be the only one who jumps a mile in the air each time, no matter how many times I experience it, and fetch my head a nasty crack against the apparatus? Or am I just a complete idiot?
Unusually, this particular check-up didn’t result in yet another prescription for glasses but, instead, a recommendation that I should be referred to a Consultant for investigation of possible degeneration of the retina. So, in the space of a few days, I had gone from having no contact with Consultants at all for years on end, to suddenly having two take an interest in me. The medical profession had me in the palm of their latex-gloved hands (which is not a happy image), and it could only get worse!
If you’ll permit me, I’ll continue with this medical tale of woe in the next exciting (?) episode. Until then, keep taking the tablets.