Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plague of the Killer C

Dear Leader of the Patient's Union,

          Going to hospital is a sure cure for modesty, especially when the medical boffins decide that the only way they can tell what’s going on inside you is to have a close look. And it’s also a place where in most instances they actively encourage worry.
          To give me a bit more to worry about my specialist physician happily told me that he was increasingly finding the Big C in younger and younger people. He was referring to it romping around in the tubes and crannies that run from your mouth to your other end. 
        So, if anything unusual was happening in this rather vital area of the anatomy he always advocated that it was best to let him have a look. Just to be on the safe side you understand.
          I surmised my medic was probably a frustrated speleologist, who had decided on this line of work because he could look down dark and windy passages without the risk of getting stuck, crushed by a rock fall or drowned in some inaccessible crevice.
          My life could have been gradually ebbing away but I got no sympathy from my wife. Just because you’re doing what every man does with such glee it’s hardly an excuse to rush off and have an expensive medical examination when we haven’t even got a medical aid, she said.
          Most of the time you’re forcing it anyway. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with you. You men go to hospital for the slightest thing.
          It’s my life that’s at stake, I told her. So if you don’t mind I’ll play it safe. It’s no good having money if you’re dead.
          My doctor certainly believed in leaving nothing to chance so he decided on a complete top and bottom. For the technically minded it’s a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy.
          It was a kind of 100 000 km service, even though I had only done 40 000 at the time. Well specialists have got to live too and are they all that different from the guy who fixes your car?
          To do these delightful procedures they put you under. That way you can’t criticise their work. They then push a camera on a scenic trip round your insides
          The pictures show up on a screen. And if they see anything interesting like precious stones or other lumps and bumps they snip bits off and take them as souvenirs to the lab.
          To make sure that the specialist got no unpleasant surprises and that the view was absolutely clear I had to starve for two days. And that was not all. I also had to drink litres of clean prep that goes through you almost as fast as you can drink it.
          On the morning of the big day I arrived at the clinic on schedule at 8.00 am thinking of nothing but food. But nobody was a bit concerned about the mental state of  us starving patients all coming for the same procedure, because laid out on a table in front of the reception desk were all kinds of goodies, muffins, yogurt, scones etc.
          And doctors and other members of staff kept coming through and stuffing their faces right in front of us. For me this Who cares about the patient approach did not end there. 
          When I gave my name to the receptionist she looked down her list and told me I was not on it. I protested that I was not going to starve myself for another two days because my doctor was so disorganised and she casually replied, He often forgets to put people down.  
          How often does he forget to take his knives and forks out when he’s done an operation, I was about to ask. Unperturbed she smiled sweetly and said I could be fitted in at around 1.00 pm. That’s lunch time, I thought. If a patient has survived two days of starvation a couple more hours won’t kill him or will it?
          I was put in a mixed ward to await my fate and to allow me and everybody else to talk up our fears. I got chatting to a woman who didn’t seem to be aware of what was happening because when she asked what my problem was I said, In-growing toe nails. With a mystified look she asked, Surely you don’t have to take clean prep for that do you?
          The patient torture took a further twist when I was wheeled through to another siding in the operating area. The doctor and the anaesthetist were not going to delay lunch just because the assembly line was still running.
          Not a chance; dressed in their greens they were stuffing themselves with hamburgers in a nearby cubicle leaving me to suffer surrounded by the delicious smell.
          Did I say that doctors are no different from the mechanics who fix your car?  I was half expecting to see semi-naked pinups stuck to the wall when I was finally pushed into theatre.
          After all that my doc was so disappointed, not at the way his bank balance had increased, but because I was not a candidate for further expensive, scientific exploration.
       The moral to the story is listen to your wife. You don’t need X-rays, scans, video cameras or anything else looking into your insides because she can see through you in an instant.
          Your sincerely,
          Jon, a concerned Patient.

PS. Seven out of 12 of the people on my wife's Church’s latest prayer list have cancer. It makes you think doesn’t it?

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone?' on Amazon Kindle  It's thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.

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