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Thursday, 12 August 2010

It Started With A Snore - Part 7

WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PRAISE FOR THE NHS. Readers of a nervous disposition* are advised to look away now!
* Whatever happened to ‘those of a nervous disposition’ that announcers used to warn in dark tones before programmes of particular gore or menace? Did they die out due to natural selection? Nowadays we’re just shown the gore and menace anyway, and then pointed toward an appropriate counselling service “if you’ve been affected by any of the issues in tonight’s programme”.
I had visions of my ‘limited palatoplasty’ (which, we have determined, is not some obscure antipodean marsupial) taking place around the time of the next ice age, given my previous experience of the geological timescales that the NHS used to adhere to. As I had private health insurance (don’t all throw things at once, it has proved to be the difference between life and death in the past) I decided to try to get my money’s worth and see if they would arrange the surgical procedure. My Consultant had warned me that this might be an uphill struggle, but I started the claim procedure anyway. Not unsurprisingly, they would not agree to fund my operation without further and better particulars from the Consultant, so we started a potentially lengthy game of ‘pass the buck’.
However, to my astonishment, (this is where the first praise for the NHS comes in, so you may want to look away now), the NHS appointment arrived before the private health people had even had chance to refuse me formally! I was to attend a clinic in a couple of week’s time, on a Saturday morning!!
I apologise unreservedly for the plethora of exclamation marks, but I think this warrants it. For years, it has been an unwritten rule that you could only be safely ill during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, because the NHS did not see the need for Consultants to be on hand at any other time. So, to have an operation scheduled for a Saturday morning was really ground-breaking. I think the cause of this was the introduction of a set of clinics run by a private healthcare provider, but within our local hospital, with the remit of addressing those areas where long waiting lists had previously dominated. My appointment was for this new facility but the operation would be conducted by my usual Consultant.
So, I reported to this brand new, spotless facility with its comfortable furniture in bright, primary colours on Saturday morning and was ushered into a very well appointed clinic for some pre-op checks. There was even a beautifully appointed changing room with lockers for your personal belongings. Pretty soon, dressed in my surgical gown, I was wheeled (I really don’t know why you’re not allowed to walk) into the operating room for the Great Man to do his worst, or hopefully, his best.