Friday, 2 April 2010

Boom! Shake the Room

24 weeks. Nearly. I think (I've tried to count twice, and drifted off both times. Maybe I shouldn't keep counting anyway?).

An April fools day visit to the Gastro clinic. And at no point was I worried that I would be subject to a hilarious "Ah, Mr rich, I'm afraid we're going to have to remove your colon after all.... Mwahahahaha." type gag. There is no doubt my consultant has absolutely ZERO sense of humour. Not even an evil one. He is too busy listening to the sound of his own voice. And probably making it reverberate around his office to sound more like God. An old testament god. Like the ones that appeared in those old hollywood biblical epics. He's probably got a smoke machine under his desk.

No, this was my next 3-monthly check-over where I could tell 'em I was still hunk-dory. So there. It was about this time last year they were insisting there was no choice now but for a colostomy. Once upon-a-time I feared the hospital visits, but now I feel rather smug.

And so, me and boy2 (for the easter hols are upon us - hurrah) mounted the scooter and zipped across town. I armed him with a book to fight the inevitable boredom of the double-waiting area, and we climbed the 4 flights and crossed the bridge into the gastro clinic (Level 9 as it's known at the RSCH, which makes it sound like somewhere they might dissect aliens). The waiting area was almost full. The sign said the clinic were running up to an hour and a half behind. I settled in and surveyed my fellow patients.

There are several types of visitor to an NHS clinic. Here is my observers guide:
  • The Stoic - I believe that in the distance past of the NHS in England the waiting rooms would have been permanently populated by these. People who literally have a stiff-upper lip. By God, they wouldn't even be there if their wife/husband hadn't forced them. Nothing wrong with 'em anyway. Can wait forever if necessary. Without moving. Or making eye-contact with anybody else. Resolute.
  • The Perpetually Angry - An increasing sight in the NHS. Often sat forward, elbows on knees, head in hands. Though, rarely remaining still. These people fidget and huff and puff with such alacrity that it's tiring just watching. Brow furrowed, dark glance cast upon every member of staff and new arrival in the room. You can see their coils tightening with each passing minute, especially with that old peculiar chestnut of people arriving recently but going in ahead of them. On the occasion that these people comment it is loudly about their appointment time...
  • The Resigned - Arrives with book. Slumps in chair. Weakly smiles at everyone else: "Hey we're all in this together, good old NHS, huh?". May, after an hour of so, nonchalantly double-check their appointment time at the desk. Apolegetically.
  • The Resigned plus Family Member/s - Mother/daughter strides in followed (eventually) by shuffling teenager/elderly parent. Mother/daughter most resembles 'Perpetually Angry', whilst resigned relative (the ill person after all) looks most subserviant and apologetic. Relative will frequently be sent to desk to find out what has been/is going on. And naturally delivers inadequate response thus propelling Mother/daughter into further paroxysm.
  • The Carefree (most often spotted in pairs) - Chat freely and loudly about a) their procedural experiences that nobody else wants to hear, b) recipes, c) other peoples procedural experiences that nobody wants to hear, d) how they got to the hospital, e) how great their kids are (conspicuous by their absence), f) scurrilous gossip about the doctors. Often laughing. Loudly.
  • The Elderly - On their own in a hospital wheelchair, blanket across legs. Nobody speaks to them. They don't speak. Just look round, bewildered, through rheumy eyes... Who are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go?
  • The Munchausen-by-proxy - A variation on the resigned plus family member, only where the family member seems considerably more determined to find something wrong than the patient. I witnessed this with a mother and teenage son: she was desperate to find his percieved problems were medically based; he seemed a hairs-bredth away from killing her there and then.
  • The First-Timer - shell-shocked and nervous, or ridiculously unconcerned: 'they're not going to find anything wrong with me...'
Me? I have been several of these, but nowadays mostly resemble the resigned. I find myself trying to gee-up the nurses with encouraging smiles, whilst working to remain serene but engaged with what is going on. This time I was called through within 20mins (if I were a cycnic I might make an assumption that taking my younger child with me seems to encourage faster service... but I'm more positive than that these days). By my Nurse-Practitioner herself. I even skipped the 2nd waiting room! Woo! They weighed me - 78.4kg's - uh oh: more weight gain (must cut further back on the custard creams...). Told her I was still well. She was pleased but less congratulatory this time. Made an appointment for 3 months time, and me and the boy were outta there. As the Perpetually Angry stared hard at our backs...

8 comments:

Whittles Wobble said...

Selecting a persona from your list, I would have to say I am the "resigned" as well. And I only troubled the nurses with one question: "Where's your nearest restroom?" Of course, it was down the hall, to the right, a trip on the elevator to the first floor and in the main lobby area. This is a GI clinic! How much do they want these people to suffer? When I read that you "climbed the 4 flights and crossed the bridge into the gastro clinic" I chuckled. These devils do it for their own amusement. Next they'll have a flaming hoop and dogs chasing us...

Rich said...

Haha, quite - though I never dare go to the loo for fear I may miss my place in the 'queue'...

What is it like in the US health system? I, longtime supporter and sufferer of the NHS as I am, base most of perception of American hospitals on TV programs.

Paula said...

yeah, time to stop counting I think... :D ...you're doing great :D...hey my Paul Mckenna book arrived (with CD) so once visitors are gone I'll give it a whirl for the week as suggested and then take it from there...in my GI clinic I have all the lovely French people with GI diseases trying to talk to me...so I just smile and pretend I understand EVERYTHING they say..and yep, that's landed me in heaps of trouble before :D

Skinny Girl said...

I've been several on your list as well. Sometimes more than one at a single visit! But I would have to say I'm most often resigned now. I have to agree also with Whittles Wobble's comments...really can't a bathroom be closer? I also think they need one in the actual examination room (like a little closet or something) since they always make you wait so long in there. I always wondered what would happen if I left the exam room to use the bathroom and the doctor came in and no one was there.

Rich said...

Hey Paula - good luck with the Mckenna CD, I'd be interested to know what you make of it. I am amused imagining myself trying to converse in French about UC - the only word i know with even vague appropriateness is 'merde'!

Hi Skinny - to be honest I reckon I've been most of the characters too, that's why I can recognise them. I have to admit that there is a toilet very near the waiting area in my gastro clinic... but with a nearness that is not appealing when in full flare, if you know what I mean. Mind-easingly close of course, but also VERY audible! Mmmm.

Jade Sheldon said...

I think I would also have to say that I fall into the Resigned category. I walk in and it's as if I'm in an episode of Cheers (you know, everybody knows my name) except there is no alcohol. Cory is always there with me and we come armed with magazines and a snack of some kind so as not to notice the wait time as much.

Rich said...

Crikey, we're all resigned aren't we..!

Arkayeff said...

Alone I used to try and meditate, but I was usually too aware of my surroundings and had the feeling that the axe would fall shortly. If I have Clare with me we tend to speculate in whispers about the doctors and nurses, the radiator fixtures, and of course the others waiting.

I think a Bristol style recognition chart should be produced to help us recognise patient types.