Friday, 20 May 2011
Calling Doctor Love
Today, however, was an exception. It was the occasion of my 6 monthly check up at the Rheumatology clinic. A while back I discovered I had psoriatic arthritis - nothing serious - an extremely painful wrist which was first misdiagnosed as gout. After my doctor enquired about my wine swigging capacity. A simple mistake to make.
Recently it's become much more troublesome: stiff joints, aching limbs, entertaining thoughts of Velcro strips instead of shoe laces. So off to the hospital to see my very nice consultant.
The trip didn't start off too well. I hadn't factored in driving during the morning rush hour and the impossibility of parking anywhere near the hospital. Most of the street parking around the place is Residents Only and having tried to park in the hospital own visitors' car park I found that I didn't have enough loose change in my treasure chest to buy a 10 minute slot. Eventually, I parked some way away, in a very nice street with lovely houses.
I, of course, was by now late. Not by much, and ironically I was walking faster and moving more freely, to reach my out patient appointment, than I had been for a while.
In my haste I went to the wrong clinic and was confronted by a sea of plastered legs and arms, bodies writhing and the sound of near death rattles. I was in the Orthopaedic clinic. My clinic was a sea of tranquillity by comparison, I apparently being the only one there. I went to reception - a cupboard under the stairs - and reported for duty apologising for my late arrival. No problem. I sat in a comfortable chair and waited: about 2 minutes before being summoned.
After a nice chat about my current state of well being and a quick look at the results of my blood test - nothing there, my doctor suggested that it wasn't clear whether my ailments were due to an inflammatory disease or something else. What he proposed was an injection of a steroid. If my complaint was due to inflammation the treatment would reduce things and the pains would disappear only to return after about 6 weeks as the stuff wore off. Then we'd know, wouldn't we, and be able set up a proper treatment path. So simple.
Since I thought only weightlifters, runners and race horses took steroids I was less than happy. However he reassured me that my testicles would not disappear completely or that hair would not migrate from the top of my head to my palms.
And so to the needle in the bum. In fact three needles and 3 shots of drugs - I felt I ought to snort or whinny.
It was my own fault in that I mentioned in passing, as the needle was piercing my skin and into the muscle, my recent trips to the vets and the cats' expensive tastes in drugs etc. This led onto a discussion of pet insurance, health insurance, his family health insurance, how much private hospitals charge and how much doctors make.
I got the impression that he felt he was getting a rum deal. I mean as a consultant, which took 10 years to reach, he'd started on a mere £70k. He said his brother in law, who wasn't the brightest bulb in the lamp, was earning masses more working for a bank as an IT boffin. I suggested that whilst within his own peer group he might be seen as struggling financially, to most of his patients in East London he was in clover.
We next moved onto vocation and professionalism. I didn't know this but apparently doctoring is now a 9 to 5 job. He, having trained under Sir Lancelot Spratt at St Swithins, had had to work 72 hr shifts. But that's all changed. Now if a doctor hasn't finished his list by 5 pm the patients still waiting can go hang. He became a doctor out of a sense of a vocation, bit like a vicar, but without the nice clothes. He was working this weekend and took work home. Which I thought might be a bit messy.
Nowadays the new intake had no sense of vocation. To them doctoring is like any other career. I had to agree, pointing out that when I joined the Civil Service I did so out of a sense of public duty and vocation - I can lie with the best.
Anyway, in no time at all we'd passed a very pleasant 15 - 20 minutes, being joined for the last 5 minutes by a very nice nurse who smiled all the time. We said our goodbyes and arranged to meet again in 6 weeks time - just to check out how things were progressing.
I wondered in passing how those in the Fracture Clinic were holding up.