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...'