Oh please ladies do calm down there will be no salacious gossip today; the interactions have been purely functional and not relating to the perennial itch (requiring scratching) of which I have previously spoken. The needs these particular specimens attended to were those of heat and symptom control; a Gas Man and a dreadfully young GP. Overall the performance was ultimately satisfactory albeit after a less than smooth journey; frankly gentlemen your school report card would read ‘must do better’!
In a large nutshell two weeks ago on a Friday I woke to no hot water or heating. I remember it was Friday as the lady who helps me with domestic chores had to boil the kettle to mop the floor. I duly phoned British Gas to arrange a call-out the next day; having to get dressed for 8 am on a Saturday morning did not fill me with joy. Of course I was sweetness and light personified when the engineer arrived around 9 am.
That Saturday morning I had turned the heating system back on – having turned it off to stop the clicking from inside the boiler cupboard as if a metal beak phoenix trying to get out. The bl**dy thing burst happily into life proceeding to enthusiastically pump heat and hot water on demand! Great now how stupid do I feel. Unable to find anything wrong with the boiler the engineer proceeded to question me in great detail about why I had had a pump fitted. The year of the snow the system repeatedly froze and the pump was the resolution. A recommendation sold to me with a logic based on physics I’d covered in my ‘O’ level – a rapidly moving body of water is less likely to freeze than a drip drip drip of condensation.
This engineer on that Saturday was having none of it; even going as far to saying my £240 investment could be disabled as it wasn’t doing anything! Gee thanks. Off he trots to his next job having pronounced the boiler fit and healthy. A week later the same thing happened; another engineer comes out, drinks tea and investigates. I ask if part of the training includes how to work in small spaces to which he responds ‘I’ve seen a lot smaller’; size it seems is everything.
Downstairs I am drafting a submission for a contract appalled at how ridiculous my carefully crafted prose look when copied into the form with columns 3 words wide. Is this rigid formatting quite necessary I wonder? But hey it’s a buyer’s market so frankly they can have it any which way they like; I enter the data with bad grace grinding me teeth as I type away! The engineer is in and out of the front door to retrieve tools from his van as if he’s got short-term memory loss or just can’t carry more than one thing at a time; for god sake man yer beginning to p**s me off but I can hardly accuse his of letting the heat out!
Finally he comes downstairs and stops at the dining room doorway; my study is too cold to work in without heating. ‘Well I’ve got good news and bad news’ he wittily says bashfully grinning as he looks straight at me. ‘Oh you mean it’s going to cost a lot of money and you can’t fix it today’ I answer. ‘Well yes and no. It will cost the British Gas a lot but you’ve got a contract so you won’t pay.’
The upshot is the reason the boiler is cutting out is water is dripping on the circuit board; the bad news being the boiler has to be turned off until it fixed. After a bit of banter during which I do remember uttering the phrase ‘oi I may be disabled but I’m bigger than you’ although I can’t exactly remember what I was responding to! Asking if the previous engineer could have stopped the fault he is cagey saying maybe maybe not; he can expect to be promoted with this level of diplomacy!
Returning next day with the new part the engineer spends 4 hours with his head in the cupboard until the boiler is once again in working order. At some point another engineer appears at the front door – a younger fitter version with a cheeky boy next door grin – I direct him upstairs watching him practically bounce two steps at a time. Has he been sniffing gas I wonder in utter bemusement?
Gentleman number 2 is the GP with the same name as a TV doctor played by Martin Clunes; he is the one who started the journey to the miracle drug that will liberate me from the awful side effects from morphine based derivatives. Since laddie (he is c 30 at the oldest) met the drug rep, who gave the Practice the glad tidings of the first non opioid strong painkiller, I have seen two further doctors. I have been called because the referral letter has been received from the Pain Consultant – within the two-week response time, not bad!
The good news is the Consultant has agreed to prescribe the drug; the bad news he contained in his referral letter. Basically he says whilst he is to prescribe the drug (whatever it’s called) he has no experience of using it so can’t advice on how to go about transferring me onto it; nor has the GP or indeed any of the GP’s in the practice. Oh so I am to be a guinea pig it seems; still it can hardly get any worse can it? Actually it can but let’s not get hung up on semantics at this point. After all the patient is perpetually in chronic pain so she’ll probably not notice the difference!
Two days later the manufacturer has been consulted and the script issued. All systems go; when the pharmacist has ordered it of course. The niggling irritation was finding out that me taking the matter into my own hands and reducing my current Shire horse doses to that more suitable for a miniature Shetland pony had been unnecessary. In fact I can take both the old and the new drugs at the same time; neither will my current prescription drugs be taken off me! I have been through a frankly painful fortnight for nothing; this GP says ‘mm it’s all a bit higgledy piggledy now isn’t it’! Teach me to try and expedite the process!
Earlier the same week I’d been to see the Specialist Nurses who were surprised to see me. In fact one said ‘I wondered if you’d turn up today because we never seem to be able to do anything for you’. If I wasn’t going to attend I would have telephoned to say so; apparently about half the patients don’t show up. Such bad behaviour would never occur to me; so polite am I that I happily chat about eye brow shaping when the conversation runs out! Not before the nurses say it’s probably time to consider alternative therapies and have I tried reflexology; it can be expensive and you would have to pay yourself…
I sometimes ponder the word Patient; or more appropriately patient as in trying MY patience. In a spirit of female camaraderie the two nurses ask about the Surgeon they had referred me to (in October), had I seen him (yes privately in November – the NHS referral resulted in a letter in February saying the referral had been received and they’d be in touch), and what was the Surgeon like? The motivation behind the question being said gentleman is said to be ‘lovely’ i.e. attractive – I didn’t realise they had never met the man who they spoke so highly of! Conspiratorially I coyly comment that he’s not my type but you can see why some people would find him attractive; that he’s obviously a nice family man (on the basis that he took two weeks holiday over Christmas and New Year) and with that Christian name Jared he probably when to public school. Laugh we giggled so much we nearly had a collective embarrassing incident! And you know by the time I got back into the car we all felt SOOOO much better…well they deserve to be cut some slack having to work in Rookwood Hospital (the old bit).