Monday 1 September 2008

A trip to the X-ray Department

The Saturday before last I slipped and fell down the stairs. Bumpity-bump and landed on my bottom. It didn't hurt that much at the time and it didn't really hurt much through the following week. Suddenly over the weekend, for no apparent reason, it suddenly became very painful. It hurt to stand, it hurt to sit and it hurt to lie down... oh yes, and it hurt to move between any one and another. This morning as I struggled to work on the bus I resolved to take myself off to the Doctor (again).

I hate making Doctor's appointments. The surgery has a 'book on the day' policy... which is randomly enforced. Example: if you work in town and aren't around during surgery hours you are supposed to be able to book an appointment the day before to ensure that you don't waste your time. Practicality? Well - the surgery opens its doors at twenty past eight. The phone lines don't open until eight thirty. Smart people visit the surgery in person and all the appointments are gone. Today the best they could do for me was ten to four - not early enough (I was already in work by half eight) and not late enough (around six would be much better). Oh yes, the late appointments seem to only be available by booking (a week in advance the receptionist told me today) or by calling the Duty Doctor at half past four (when you then have to rush to get back in time!).

Off my soap box. The doctor poked and prodded me some (that did the whole pain thing no end of good) and said that I had better go and get an x-ray "just in case". We'll get the results in two weeks she told me, unless it's anything serious. So off I trundled to the hospital (which is fortunately a mere half mile from my house). Although I regularly frequent various outpatients appointments I don't go to the hospital for much else. This was a new experience. Imaging (the x-ray etc. department) was extremely busy. During the time that I was there four trollies came and went and three wheel chairs, plus an assortment of foot traffic. Given that outpatients can't generally keep a schedule when they have one I didn't hold out much hope for a speedy resolution in 'on demand'.

I didn't much envy the trolley patients who were lined up in their nightclothes . I didn't much envy the small boy next to me in a wheelchair (I'm guessing he had a broken leg) whose mother told him to stop complaining as poor children in poorer countries would be grateful for an x-ray when they had a broken leg. I didn't much envy the harassed staff racing around trying to get done and keep everything moving. A stark contrast to the genteel nature of outpatients waiting rooms.

A mere 45 minutes after arriving (I'd guessed it would be two hours) I was asked to put on a baffling hospital gown and remove all items of clothing and jewellery except my underpants. I then had to walk back across the waiting room (oh the indignity) to get the x-ray. The radiographer (?) checked it and told me my doctor would have the results in a fortnight; from this I assume that there is nothing therefore seriously wrong.

This is my favourite bit. The waiting. You'd want to hope there is nothing to tell the time it takes them to find out. My worst ever experience was some years back. I fell ill after a course of steroids and my glands swelled up alarmingly. There were cases of the mumps around at the time and as (apparently) mumps is a notifiable disease the doctors sent me to the hospital for a blood test. A blood test for a contagious disease which took somewhere in the region on two or three months to finally be returned. A good thing it turned out that I didn't have the mumps!