Monday, October 06, 2003

My Visit to the Doctor

(Encounter with the health-care sector)

Guest-reviewer-of-the-week DEBBIE says:

I was hoping when James and I moved to a slightly nicer area of West London that a new doctor's surgery would provide better service - pretty, cheerful receptionists, free tea and coffee, their own blood testing facilities (because we all know how depressing it is to be sent to Wembley Community Hospital waiting in a long smelly queue of people) and dare I say it doctors. Curses! I have been cheated. There is but one doctor at our new surgery and despite his appointment schedule starting at 9.30 this morning and the waiting room filling with curiously decaying people that I have never seen in our local area (strangely considering the size of some of them), the doctor didn't arrive until after 10 o clock. During this time, we were subjected to listening to the receptionists curse every time the phone rings (always nice to know that your calls are met with a smile) and complain with glottal stops about how they aren't married yet. I felt like telling them that this fact, albeit unsurprising was not one that should be boasted about in the presence of the ugly, mentally unbalanced men in the waiting room. What is more, they could promote themselves more effectively by speaking prettily.

Anyway, Doc arrived, half an hour late and sped through the waiting room dodging rotten tomatoes from the patients and evil eyes from the unmarried receptionists, oh sorry "Practice Managers". I was lucky enough to be the first one in. I say lucky but judging from the reaction of the other in-mates, I wouldn't want to meet any of them again. It seemed that it was unfair for a young, beautiful and healthy specimen of the human race such as I to be seen before them. But of course, I am not entirely healthy, I have been suffering from heartburn for 2 years and I wanted 1 - to know why 2 - to find out what I can do to stop it 3 - if necessary get some damned drugs. In addition to this, and apologies to male readers but I needed to change the brand of secret woman's pill that I am on.

Doc, obviously not immune to the glances of his patients on the way in, was eager to get me out of the room as soon as possible. Therefore he conducted the entire appointment standing up. I found this unnerving and worried for the mental people in the waiting room. I explained why I wanted to change the secret woman's pill, he asked me why, I explained for a second time why and this time he seemed to understand why. He asked if I smoke, I replied (truthfully) "no". Without looking at my previous notes (always comforting) he randomly chose an alternative brand. I told him I had been on that before and had to come off it but my opinion, blood pressure, weight or indeed my medical history were unimportant and we progressed swiftly to the heartburn.

"Do you smoke" - he must be trying to catch me out, emphatically "No". You are too young to have heartburn. "Well I have got it". "I don't think so" he said and began to prod my stomach. "It seems that you have heartburn" he said. "Why?" said I "You are producing too much acid" - did he think I was completely stupid "No, I mean why am I producing too much acid". He shrugged. "I've had it before" I began "if you look in my notes you-" Once again the notes were cast aside as he randomly picked another drug from the BMF handbook in his brain. After battling with his computerised prescription system for longer than my actual consultation, he sent me packing with this one, small oval tablets saying that if it didn't work, I should come back. I left, making small noises about how it might be a good idea to keep a food diary and thinking that if I did ever come back, he would be lucky as he has probably prescribed me something I am allergic to and I will die before the end of the day. I have taken one small oval tablet and still appear to be at work.

I am afraid that there is no amusing conclusion to this story. We all know that doctors hate patients like me who try to understand their medical problems rather than take the pills and get the hell out of the room. They want to continue being the only people that know the secrets of the human body - it gives them delusions of grandeur. All I can say is that I may only be able to hold up a quivering MA to his Docotrate but at least I can work a computer and manage to get to work at 8 o clock in the morning!


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