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Thursday, 12 August 2010

It Started With A Snore - Part 4

I went trotting off to my local Health Centre with a song in my heart and a kind word for everybody. I came back a physical and mental wreck. Whenever you are called to see a Practice Nurse, you have to bring an offering with you. It doesn’t matter what you are being tested for, somewhere along the line it will involve a urine sample. What she (and it is usually a she) does with all of these, goodness only knows. Perhaps she operates a tannery on the side? You always have to hope that your appointment doesn’t follow a good night down the pub (for you, not her...oh, I don’t know though) – a urine sample with a head on it is not generally seen as an indicator of a healthy lifestyle.
I presented my offering, which she took without much gratitude it seemed to me. I know that, on meeting a girl for the first time, it is a slightly unusual transaction but she did ask for it and I had gone to the time and trouble to provide it (not that it involved too much of either, if truth be told). She took my blood pressure with one of those electronic sphygmomanometerS (all right, all right, blood pressure machines if you insist). Inevitably, because I was in a Doctor’s surgery and surrounded by people in white coats with sharp instruments, the reading was high. We decided to wait a little while and have another go. This was where it all went wrong. Whilst we were waiting, she decided to review my medical notes. The conversation went something like this:
Nurse: “Ah! I see you’ve been very naughty.”
Self: “Have I? In what way?”
Nurse: “You haven’t had a Well Man review for 9 years have you?”
Self: “Probably not, whatever it is. Is that a problem?”
Nurse: “Oh no, we can do it now, while you’re here.”
And before I knew it, we were rattling through a questionnaire and she was opening a hypodermic syringe. One of the reasons that I tend to avoid doctors and nurses like the plague (unless, of course, I’ve got the plague, which is an entirely different matter) is their predilection for sticking needles into you. I am not a big fan of needles. Many years ago I went for a diabetes test that involved myself and a like-minded group of people spending an entire morning in hospital having our blood sampled every half-hour to check the progress of a glucose drink consumed at the start of the test. All went well with blood samples 1 and 2, but by No. 3 I had wound myself up to such a pitch that the nurse was having to prop me up with her shoulder as she took the sample, to stop me crashing to the ground. Needless (but unfortunately not needle-less) to say, Numbers 4,5 and 6 were taken as I laid flat out on a trolley-bed, drifting in an out of consciousness. This is not an exercise that anyone has rushed to repeat.
I explained my fully qualified state of wimpishness to the Nurse and, to be fair, she was great at keeping me engaged in conversation and it really didn’t hurt much at all. Nevertheless, I was aware of a cold sweat enveloping me and my colour draining away. This was therefore not a good time to be taking my blood pressure again and, sure enough, it was now at a level whereby, with a prick of the thumb, I could have spray-painted the Sistine Chapel. Not unsurprisingly, I would be referred to the Doctor, who would also tell me the results of my blood test.
The Sleep Monitor test rather intrigued me and I was curious to see how this would be done on an out-patient basis. For years, sleep monitoring used to be done in hospital, with the patient being wired up to various machines and then encouraged to sleep as normally as possible. Of course, hospitals now are desperate to avoid anything that involves patients actually staying there (and so are most patients). The Nurse at the Hospital Clinic ran through the various aspects of the kit “This goes around your chest like so, this one around your tummy, these go into your nose and this goes down your sleeve and attaches to your finger like so”, leads were attached to a central monitor and the whole mess was shovelled into a sort-of laptop case. I was to sleep with all of this tonight and return it to the clinic by 10.00 the following day.
I think the attached pictures will tell you more than I ever can about the apparatus that I ended up wearing to bed. When my wife managed to stop laughing, she helped me sort all of this out, as best she could and I then, gingerly, edged into bed.
“You’ll never get to sleep with all of that on” was the last thing she said as the light went out.
I can’t report my answer. I was already snoring.