One Of Those Week’s

Image008I am working in the front room as my study is cold at this time of year but this means the distraction from the busy street as too many. Currently I am torn between seeing who is having a delivery from SCS and trying to see the people who are talking in the house next. Next door is rented and currently vacant with HUGE to let signs in the front windows. Presuming the voices are people viewing the property I am very interested to see who they are; previous occupants have included a couple with 2 dogs, a couple with 2 children and 2 dogs and most recently a single man who worked away a lot.

Finally a couple without children emerge with a man clutching a sheaf of paper; the latter  jacket less in a pink shirt and a tie resting over the curve of an impressive belly. Curious the man (assumed to be with the woman also without an outer coat) who wore a tweed/wool jacket length coat drove off on his own in an old dark green Vauxhall. The other man (assumed to be from the Letting Agency) drives off in a silver people carrier (with a child on board sticker in the rear window) and is accompanied by the woman.

Now where the hell does that leave me? OK nosey neighbour but with an interest in the prospective tenants as the voices echoed in the empty house perhaps the landlord has taken up the carpets? As the landlord re – hung the net curtains – (that my neighbour on the other side put up quickly for the old lady who used to live there about 10 years ago; bless her she still rues the day she didn’t have time to hem them and yes they are still unhemmed) – removing anything other than totally rancid floor coverings seems unlikely.

I must remember to update my neighbour on the latest viewings; she told me she’d seen a young couple with small children when I saw her doing her front garden at the weekend. She’d asked how I was on account of me coming out of the house on 2 crutches and when I said I’d got another chest infection she said she’d heard me coughing! We have an agreement, recently updated on account of my change in circumstances, about when she’ll use her key to come in. There are certain rooms in the house where dropping things makes a loud noise on account of them being uncarpeted so she’ll only come round if she hears more than one thud (close together). Unless it’s a heavy thud like an Erhum stone body; except of course I’ve been to the Physio specialising in falls so if one relaxes into the fall it tends to be a bit muffled! As I seem to stick to falling at night in carpeted areas it’s not a foolproof plan I admit.

Apropos the chest infection I had to queue outside the Surgery at 750 am to get an appointment for antibiotics. I was the first of three cars to arrive but unsurprisingly the third person to make it to the queue; the woman let me go in front of her (she had arrived third) and the man (cutely although I’m not sure intentionally) engaged me in conversation. I have learnt a lot about the history of Barry Docks from these early morning queuing sessions so all is not lost (aside from the pain triggered by the cold lasting all day even if my legs are only exposed to the elements for 5 minutes; my nerves aren’t clever but then to be fair their myelin sheath no longer achieves a A score on energy efficiency! If only intimate loft insulating was available especially as there’s a government scheme offering free insulation for disabled persons).

On this particular morning I started by facing the man in the queue, seemed polite as he was speaking to me; until I lost my balance narrowly avoiding sitting on the attractive brick paving. The look of panic on the poor man’s face had me smothering a laugh – wise move as I’ve discovered that I can’t balance at all if I’m laughing! So I reassuringly said I’d better lean against the glass wall and we continued the banter with only occasional eye contact. I couldn’t – excuse me I was momentarily distracted by someone else knocking on the wall next door (empty house) evidently today is the day for viewings!

As I was saying I couldn’t work out if the man – in his mid to late 60s – thought I was the same age as him – (I know it was early but I had got up early to ensure I didn’t look too dreadful; yes to someone without a chronic illness this might seem counter-intuitive i.e. to try not to look too ill when presenting to a doctor precisely because you are feeling ill but hey I prefer not to have my nearest and dearest muttering the words ‘ooh she doesn’t look well’). Our banter was amusing both of us especially when he told me he’d worked in the docks and had earnt £10/week; and they’d had a good Christmas to boot! To which I added ‘and still had a bit left to put by as well!’

The woman in the queue had taken out her kindle and was engrossed. When the receptionists finally opened the door, a few minutes after 8am we noted by discretely consulting our wrist watches and conspiratorially exchanging raised eyebrow accompanied glances as we walked in. As the woman let me go in front of her I turned to her and whispered ‘I don’t know how old he thinks’ I am’ which raised a flicker of a smile!

After the waiting I was rewarded with an appointment at 830; arriving upstairs – (after nipping to the ‘Little Girls Room’ (referred to thus because the motif on the door is a little girl in pigtails) as the cold has a way of reaching the same parts of the body that several pints of liquid does) – I find the woman with the kindle is already seated. I resisted commenting on the fact we both had matching kindles in identical black leather cases. Seating near to the door I hadn’t noticed I was under the speaker playing an eclectic mix of 80s pop music; with the volume up loud enough to make my ears ache – seriously it did!

Eventually I was called in by the doctor at 840 and he said was it OK that he had medical students with him to which I smiled and responded ‘not unless that’s the reason you’re running late’ to which he smiled in return! Little did I know the fun had only just begun; I explained I my symptoms i.e. the pain in my left lung when breathing, a tearing sensation similar to when I had had pleurisy some years ago. Doctor turns to the 2 medical students (who looked very young and ever so slightly terrified – the cape wearing Amazonian leather boot wearing woman outfit is I suppose intimidating especially with the slow slightly menacing wooden walking – you know the way grown persons can be cornered by large spiders?)- have you got your and waves his stethoscope? Do you want to listen to Ms Medley’s chest? Both of them your having a laugh!

Then they wait for me to remove the cape and handbag; pull out my polo neck (and vest of the same colour which I attempt to conceal for some reason that made sense at the time). I stand garments raised with my back towards them. And yes each one asks me to take 12-15 deep breaths! Remember the bit where I referred to pain as if the flesh was tearing when I breath? Good because no-one else in the room did; and by the end of the 24-30 deep breaths I was to put it simply breathless and NOT in a good way! A close friend text ‘lucky them’ (referring to listening to my chest), cheeky minx – they were polite enough not to pass comment on the bruises inflicted by a door frame in the small wee hours and now I’m wondering if the pain is broken ribs…unlikely as I know how to fall safely; I’ve been to the workshop!

And this is the best bit. The doctor asks if they’d heard anything to which they both said no! Had they listened to the embarrassing front bit above the breasts then I guarantee more than a little bit of wheezing would have been heard. The doctor concludes by saying ‘you get to know the patient and we know that Ms Medley’s other symptoms flare up so we play for safety and prescribe antibiotics’ which he did without touching me! As I left I said ‘good luck, enjoy your day’ and bless them they both looked at the floor!

There are weeks when not a day goes passed without a reminder that you have been medicalised by your diagnosis: Monday GP (urgent need for antibiotics); Tuesday Specialist Nurses to see me at home (for follow up and to introduce new nurse allocated to Barry with plans to offer life changing support – we’ll see if she offers more than soft furnishings for the seat on the Titanic from which I survey the horizon with all its myriad possibilities); Thursday regular GP for meds to go on holiday with (the quantity needed for 14 nights away requires a small suitcase (which I intend to fill with duty free fags on the return journey – I know the VAT paid in country pays for all these services I gobble up greedily (like I have a choice) but one is currently on a limited budget on account of the state of the economy so needs must); and Friday the Pain Consultant (review and conversation about ketamine (and yes I do mean the horse tranquiliser that has been abused by ravers) assuming he’s remember he said he’d find out about the drug)! It’s lucky I get Wednesday off except I had to do a spreadsheet of the drugs I need to get from the GP and to request a letter saying they are prescribed for me; I take what are called controlled drugs.

At 550 pm the other evening the phone rang and I answered it assuming it was my mum but no it was the Pharmacist who deals with my prescriptions. She was doing the Controlled Drug Register and was missing 1 of the pain patches I also use (they attract the fluff and the glue is a bugger to get off without the use of a nail brush which hurts!). Could I check that I hadn’t been given one more than I was expecting? To be honest I don’t routinely check the goods against the prescription not least because I don’t have the details once the drugs have been dispensed. Besides I confess I am still in denial as when I was growing up it wasn’t one of my ambitions to have a kitchen big enough to allow a WHOLE cupboard for my medication (this doesn’t include the drawers in the bathroom for other diagnosis related items)!

The irony on this occasion was I actually needed the extra patch I had been given in error. Lovely as the Pharmacist is she is a stickler for keeping things shipshape so when she said could I take the extra patch in next time I was there of course I said yes. This I did on Friday. Apparently if controlled drugs are unaccounted for the Pharmacist has to file an incident report and the Police have to be called! So when I was back on Monday for the antibiotics and pain patches I was amused (or should that be bemused) to walk from my car to the Chemist with one of the women who assists the Pharmacist. She asked how I was and I told her I was there for antibiotics and pain patches. She knew all about the problem with the Controlled Drugs Register and said if she’d been dealing with it she’d have just given me one less the next time I came in!

Welcome to my world; being a disabled person is simply exhausting and I can’t even drown myself in alcohol for fear of provoking my own version of a national incident!

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