To be sung to the tune of ‘I Am Sailing’
The other day I went to a medical appointment; I arrived on time and rang the buzzer at the entrance to the clinic, and the practitioner I was seeing immediately came to the door herself and took me straight into the consultation. I very nearly died of shock. And no, I haven’t gone private.
Sometimes I think that if I have to visit one more waiting room, I will opt to repeatedly bash my head against the wall until the money saved on the treatment I will no longer need because I am dead can instead be used to redecorate. This is a lot of money, because I’m only twenty-four, and I still have pregnancy and old age and descent into insanity and all sorts of other wonderful things that require medical attention ahead of me. I might as well pitch a tent in a waiting room and live there, and then at least I can save myself all journey times and general back and forth.
Most health conditions can essentially be reduced to an advanced course in waiting. Waiting to be given an appointment. Waiting for diagnoses. Waiting for the stitches to come out, the anaesthetic to wear off, enough time to have elapsed for it to be ok to take another paracetamol. Waiting while the healthcare assistant runs to find a doctor actually capable of extracting blood from veins so difficult to find you’re beginning to wonder if they actually exist, or whether it will turn out that you’re actually comprised purely of mouldy cotton wool (just me?). I won’t say ‘waiting for the pain to stop’ or ‘waiting to get better’, because for some people that simply never happens, including people with my condition, so it seems unwise to tempt fate. Indeed, if you find yourself in a waiting room, consider yourself lucky, this is infinitely preferable to being on a waiting list. You are a real person, a bum on a seat, more than just a name on a list that possibly doesn’t even exist, might just be a layman-friendly word for an algorithm that sifts you up out of the depths of the system when at last it is your turn. And then automatically generates an appointment right in the middle of the week you’re away, so you have to phone up and change it, only to be told you’ve already cancelled an appointment too many times, and they will only change it if you cry to the lady on the phone about how desperate you are, but even then the next available appointment isn’t for another month after the one you’ve been given. And finally, when the day at last arrives, just as you are doing up your shoelaces you get a call from the receptionist to say your doctor has been suddenly taken ill, so they’re going to have to rebook you… for yet another month’s time.
Congratulations if you actually read all of that paragraph, and have made it thus far in the blog. You are officially patient enough to be a patient without going completely bonkers. And now you get to read about me being emotional. Lucky you!
I want this to be over. I can hear voices wiser than mine telling me not to wish my life away. But you can have my life, if this is what it’s like. There is one thing, and one thing only, that’s keeping me going: that the waiting might pay off. Of course, short of not living, or asking direct hope-crushing questions from some higher authority, I don’t have much choice but to wait, whether it’s in hope or not.
One day, I will be well. I’ll have a job, and/or a book deal. I’ll be living somewhere I’m paying for myself, and not in the middle of nowhere, and hopefully close to a leisure centre with a swimming pool, and I’ll be fit enough to actually swim. I’ll either be going out with the guy I’m currently agonising over, or I’ll have moved on to somebody new. I’ll have the sort of nice ordinary life that right now seems like unimaginable luxury and good fortune.
Things will get better. But why oh why can’t they hurry up and get better now?