So finally the position has been clarified it seems and ironically there is oddly a sense of liberation. My visit to the Rapid Access Clinic, (the RAC without motorcycled men in uniforms ready and willing and able to fix any vehicle), was in some ways the same as it ever it and in others quite different. It will be my last visit to Clinic 16 which is in itself a relief as it’s a bloody long ‘walk’ from the car park.
Given my current ability to move beyond the speed of the slugs I so gleefully dispatch daily I had allowed sufficient time to arrive for my appointment at 1020. I needn’t have bothered as I wasn’t attended to until 1045; the clinic was overrun with health professionals who significantly outnumbered the patients. People watching opportunities should never be passed up and I indulged myself from behind my kindle. There was a new receptionist whose behaviour caused more than a degree of uncomfortable comment; what was she doing I hear you ask? A fellow administrative colleague arrived pushing a shopping trolley of patient files – when one of the clinic staff enquired what was going on it was revealed that the receptionist had asked for work to do because she had time on her hands!
The next 10 minutes were spent exchanging intelligence about the goings on in the departments; the ladies were far from content with decisions being made on their behalf. From the little I heard their concerns seemed justified and confirmed my experience as someone on the receiving end of the administrative machine; consistently poor. As an aside I’d avoid the eye clinc as this seems to be particularly problematic (according to the ladies whose conversation I was discreetly ear wigging!) Evidently the senior managers are unable to see the wood for the trees (ironically given that the focus is on the eye clinic).
As I sat patiently waiting I put my kindle away at 1015 as I hate being clumsy and ending up holding up proceedings when my name is called. I confess I am a tad paranoid about not being seen to be disabled; I cannot abide the sympathetic look on the face of the Nurse/Doctor as they wait for me to get my act together! When seeing the GP I commented one day that I didn’t understand why the doctor opened the door for the patient when going in but never got out of their seat at the end of the consultation. Yes it was a pointed comment but in the new surgery the doors are fire door and rather difficult for the average mortal to open. Put in the hands of the incompetent disabled person i.e. moi then it turns into some bizarre form of performance art!
Let me describe this for you; brace yerself for a full on belly laugh when you visualise the seemingly straightforward act of opening a door. It goes without saying that the Spinster is perfect coiffure, elegantly attired with a sophisticated co-ordinated sprinkling of accessories (bag, belt, shoes, crutches and jewellery). So the consultation has ended, the sheaf of prescriptions have been stuffed, oops neatly folded, and placed in the rear pocket of my bag for ease o extraction at the Pharmacy (staffed by ladies who I practically worship for their discrete care and attention which makes my life just a little bit easier. Growing up I never envisaged being reliant of quantities of drugs that one collects in carrier bags – given that we have to pay for carrier bags in Wales I do wish they wouldn’t put the name labels on the plastic as one always tears the bags trying to remove the buggers!)
So back to the door challenge. First I need to pause and gather myself before attempting to get up from the chair – the other day when my name was called I leapt up too quickly ending up doing the weeble wobble and consequently ended up losing my balance and found my backside engaging rather suddenly with the metal edge of the chair! Ouch I hear you cry sympathetically – mind you the bruises are quite impressive (as Vera observed in the swimming pool showers! She might have been born on the 1st April and be 80 plus but she is sharp as a zesty lime ladies! I have forgiven her for staring at my naked form – several years ago – and saying ‘yes I can see you’ve lost weight your thighs aren’t quite as big as they were!’)
Rising slowly from a seated position I stretch myself carefully to the erect model height with the invisible ramrod inserted into my spine. Adjust crutches that invariably become entangled in my sleeves; my leather jacket may be stylish but it is particularly problematic in this regard. Having spotted a small tear in the top of the left shoulder I can no longer wear it with penchant or sophistication! A little shrug shakedown manoeuvre follows as I propel myself forward like a pre-war toy soldier aiming for the door. Dr usually engrossed in making notes on the computer at this point; until now of course when he leaps to his feet smugly saying ‘let me get the door – see I remembered!’
Had he not removed himself from safety of his swivel chair I would have tentatively reached for the door handle – no easy task when ones arm is firmly encased in an arm crutch. As you grasp the handle the bottom of the crutch knocks into door; it’s amazing how deaf a doctor can be at the end of a consultation as even this loud thud seldom results in the harassed professional lifting their eyes from the screen! Pulling the door towards oneself whilst simultaneously moving sidewards out of the way of the heavy plank requires a combination of strength and agility; two aptitudes I no longer have.
The trick is not to lose ones balance enabling a relatively smooth transfer from the consultation room into the corridor. Decorum in mind this process can take rather longer than it did 5 years ago; all rather tedious I have to confess. I could really do with at least another couple of hours in the day to accommodate my new ‘speed’. Footwear plays a fundamental part in this process; a balance between self preservation i.e. the ability to intimidate the professionals by marching with detached degree of menace and maintaining metaphorical (and literal) balance. Heels of an appropriate symmetry i.e. equal height and width; a nice Cuban beats a cute kitten!
The highlight of the RAC this time was a female neurologist – a disarmingly slim attractive young woman with an elfin haircut and an excellent bedside manner. Wow she is refreshingly professional, well informed and appropriately enquiring (she asks questions she probably knows the answer to – t least i hope so as the reason for clinic running behind is wanting to read the patient notes and speak to the MS Nurse! I’ve only been diagnosed for seven (relatively uneventful) years; had I been a real lifer I’d have waited until lunchtime).
The plus point in her favour is she doesn’t feel the need to stick pins in my face; on the downside well given that these posts are more lunchtime than coffee time length – and this is already brunch scale – I thought it prudent to pause for a wee break. Part 2 will reveal the diagnosis that concludes my relationship with Neurology when I’ve finally found someone I can relate to. My average B grading wins through; I’ve got insignificant MS; nothing special or particularly remarkable ego not worthy of treatment. A spectacular pain; indeed a complex inconvenience for me at least!