It was after the kerfuffle at the surgery that my doctor wrote to the consultant. Having seen a copy of the letter she sent I sincerely wished she hadn't.
She was correct in saying that I was rather hacked off (she didn't use that exact wording) about having to have what I considered to be more blood tests than my eight pints could handle. But to say that I complained that I hadn't been given a little red book ( in which the pharmacist recorded the frequency and dosage of my medication) was untrue. I didn't know I needed a communist tract in which to record the thoughts of Chairman Boots. It was the chemist who asked why I hadn't one (and my doctor). I was ignorant of the fact so to suggest that I had complained about the lack of one was mischievous on her part.
I thought she was rather unfair in writing " I saw Mr Coidan today and he had a number of issues." I did, but not with my consultant!
Anyway, she wrote and he phoned soon thereafter. Unbelievably, my consultant rang me to find out what were my "issues" - precisely. I said straight away that I would have been upset to have received such a letter. I certainly would not have written in such terms and I went on to explain calmly and clearly, in my best bedside manner, my concerns.
I made clear that I hadn't grumbled about the lack of a red (or any coloured) book. I pointed out that my arms were now resembling Tony Hancock's jacket collar, with more needle marks in them than that of a corpse of drug addict in an LA morgue. I asked was it really necessary for me to give blood to both the doctor and the consultant. Couldn't the results of one blood test be shared between the two of them? I didn't think that was an unreasonable suggestion.
My substantial concern, that my symptoms were returning after an initial period of blessed relief, was listened to and I was given an early appointment.
And, as so often happened, I arrived at the Rheumatology clinic, having parked the car a least a mile away; there being no room in the hospital car park (at a tariff I wouldn't have blanched at).
Sitting in the waiting area, I looked over my fellow rheumatics and arthritics. We looked a sorry sight. We all appeared to be dressed in left overs rummaged from a Church Hall charity sale. Most appeared to have been brought to the hospital asleep, having awoken when dumped in a chair. There was one extremely old and frail Asian woman who I thought risked expiring before she had a chance to see the consultant. "What a piece of work is man!" I thought ironically.
My reverie was broken as my name was called. "I'm here", I chimed helpfully. An intimidating large negro nurse with a thunderous bariton voice answered " And you're Mrs Chunderandersa....... are you?" I clearly was not, that person being the old lady I'd recently saw at death's door.
I had just sat down when another name was called. I hesitated to offer up myself but it did sound like me. "Ah there you are", I've been calling you for ages." With that a slightly less mountainous black nurse lead me off to be weighed. Worryingly I'd put on two kilogrammes since October, but my blood pressure was fine. I explained I'd stopped drinking and was now a cake junkie.
After a short wait in a corridor somewhere else in the hospital I was seen, not by my consultant but by his registrar. She was just what all doctor's should be like. Young, pretty and not at all intimidating - not like the one at my surgery!
She spent much time cracking my joints and checking whether the expression on my face was in fact due to pain and not a bad smell up my nose. After a short discussion about increasing my dosage, changing to another type of treatment or having me put down, I was offered a steroid injection. Which I leapt at: well would do after the jab.
The large nurse who had weighed me led me into a side room. With large needle in her hand she instructed me to drop my trousers and lay on the examining table. I mistakenly turned my cheeks away from her, before reversing my position when she looked skywards. It was over in a thrice and on leaving I was given another three blood sample bags, to go with my already large collection at home, and another appointment.
I thought it went quite well. Don't you agree?
Mind you I was concerned to see the young registrar adding to my notes. "Deaf as a post. Possible signs of confusion. Otherwise, no other issues at the moment."