I’ve had a weird few days, at the mercy of the UK health system. I started feeling a pain in my abdomen on Friday night, and by Sunday it was painful and persistent enough for me to be getting worried. So I called NHS Direct, who advised me to go to the NHS walk-in centre at Tooting. When I saw a GP there, she said she thought it was my appendix and sent me over to Casualty. After seeing the triage nurse, and having blood taken a while later, I eventually saw a surgeon, who said I seemed too well for it to be my appendix, and sent me off to the Acute Gynae Clinic for a pelvic scan. That was normal, so I went back to A&E, where the surgeon I had originally seen told me to go home and come back if it got worse. So that was almost 5 hours of my Sunday.
I stayed off work on Monday and got an appointment with another GP, because if it wasn’t my appendix or an ovarian cyst, I was keen to find out what it was. When I saw her, she prodded me a bit and said it was my appendix and I should go back to St George’s. So back I went with my referral letter. Another triage nurse, more blood, and, eventually, about 3.5 hours after I arrived, I saw a surgeon. Again, I was told I was too well for it to be appendicitis, and he set up a full abdominal scan as an outpatient, though the appointment will take a few weeks. When I asked what it might be if not appendix or ovaries he said I might never know – helpful! And when I pointed out that I was in considerable discomfort when moving around, he suggested I take painkillers. So I’m back at work now, in as much discomfort as I was on Sunday and no wiser about why, despite having seen 4 doctors and spent 10 hours in casualty.
Still, there are a lot of people worse off than me, and I’m just glad that I’m not writing this from a hospital bed having undergone surgery!
Maybe it was because I was in a slight emotional state, but I was very moved by John Suchet’s appearance on the BBC yesterday (I watched it on the website, so I’m not sure if it was on Breakfast or News). Luckily I haven’t had to deal with anyone close to me having dementia, but when I was working as an au-pair in Germany in 1989/90, the father of my au pair father had very advanced Alzhiemers. He couldn’t talk or communicate with anyone. In fact the only thing that seemed to reach him at all was music, and they always asked me to play the piano when I was there, and he would hum while I was playing. It was tragic enough to see without having known the man, though I did hear stories about him, his amazing musicianship and his love of literature. How much worse though to watch that happen to someone you love. There is still stigma attached to dementia and so I really admire people like John Suchet and Terry Pratchett, sorry, SIR Terry Pratchett, for the work they are doing to break down those walls.