I have very clear memories of the day I wrote this post. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the hangover.
September 14, 2009, the morning after the Bah! party.
Yesterday morning it was off for an ECG and then to see the oncologist. In theory, the ECG was at 12 and the oncology appointment at 12.30. In fact, I had the ECG at 12.40 and saw the oncologist’s registrar at 1.45pm. Just saying, NHS, in case you’re reading.
Anyway. These were routine appointments – as herceptin can cause the heart muscle to deteriorate, I’ll need an ECG every three months – so I felt calm (if a teeny bit hung over) as I sat down to wait.
Here are some things I noticed while I waited.
- Between an average of 10 people waiting there were no less than 5 walking sticks at any one time.
- Two people sat four seats apart, looking for all the world like two separate patients, until after about 40 minutes the woman took a satsuma from her bag, peeled it, split it in half, and handed one half to the man. He took it and ate it. They didn’t speak at all. They weren’t being hostile; that just seemed to be the way they were.
- One patient was accompanied by two prison officers, and was chained to one of them. Officer and patient/prisoner each wore a cuff, and there was about a metre of metal chain between them. Presumably it’s for ease of treatment – I can’t imagine trying to have an ECG if you’re handcuffed in the traditional way – but there was something about the arrangement that I found disturbing. Maybe it was the sense of medievalness.
- A frail and frightened man was wheeled down from a ward in his bed. He didn’t seem to have much idea about where he was, and became agitated very quickly. The woman on the reception desk got straight on the phone to his ward to ask for someone to come and sit with him. And someone did, within minutes. You got that one right, NHS, if you’re reading. (Although it would have been righter still if he hadn’t had to wait at all.)
- A woman in her early fifties spent a lot of time on the phone complaining bitterly to someone about the hospital, the wait, the process, what she was going to say when she eventually as seen…. A male nurse, early thirties, in scrubs, called her name. And she turned into Little Miss Cupcake in a heartbeat.
- An older man was brought in in a wheelchair to have an ECG. He was probably only in his 60s, but a colour that said he wouldn’t see his 70s. And a look in his eyes that said he knew it.
- A woman in her late 30s, looking a tad hung over, sat and knitted while she waited. She found out later that her heart was absolutely fine.