Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Visit to the Doctor

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment to see the doctor. I say ‘the doctor,’ because it is almost impossible to book an appointment with the same practitioner for each visit.

This was an appointment insisted upon by my local medical practice, to discuss the results of an enforced blood-test to determine whether, on balance, my regular blood-pressure medication was doing me more harm than good.

Upon arrival I had to stand in a long queue to book-in with the practice receptionist, who was so deeply engrossed in a telephone conversation she was completely oblivious to the growing number of elderly patients waiting at her window to register their attendance.

I asked the rather short and portly woman in front of me, how long she’d been waiting, but she said she couldn’t be certain, because due to a chronic urinary-tract infection she’d been forced to leave the queue several times to visit the toilet, and had therefore, relinquished her place on at least three occasions to others with more robust bladders.

Despite this being too much information, I was gallant enough to promise that, if she felt compelled to visit the toilet again I’d save her place in the queue. She seemed genuinely grateful at this uncharacteristic act of consideration of her problem.

By the time the receptionist had concluded her telephone conversation and attended to all those in front of me, I was fifteen minutes late for my allotted appointment. When I pointed this out to her, and suggested that it may be a good idea to employ an additional person to answer, or make telephone calls, she responded with the information that it didn’t matter, because Dr Duffy was running thirty minutes late, and there were still four patients ahead of me.

Resigned to a further interminable wait, I climbed the two flights of stairs to the waiting area, there to be greeted by the sight of a room full of sick people, who seemed in varying states of irreversible decline.

I took the only free, intensely uncomfortable chair next to a care-worn mother, whose violent hacking cough and shivering frame, did not auger well for my future prospects of avoiding influenza this winter.  Upon her lap a revolting, snotty nosed three-year-old boy, who was obviously suffering from ‘Terminal Tantrum Syndrome’ squirmed and complained unceasingly, despite several loud warnings from his mother of an imminent smack, which of course, never materialised.

Rising to select a magazine to browse through from the few remaining dog-eared out-of-date publications scattered on a small badly stained coffee-table I was disappointed to see that, the only four left were:  Men’s Health: February 2004: How to Cope with Your Hysterectomy: indeterminate date, as cover was ripped: Summer Brides June 1998 and Women’s Weekly Nov 2005. More in despair than hope, I selected ‘Summer Brides’ and settled down to enjoy the photos of skinny models in ridiculous frocks and advertisements for exotic underwear to make the wedding night a little more enticing than simply sleeping with one’s wife.

Slowly, as various doctors emerged from their consulting rooms to summon their next patient the number of the infirm and clearly dying began to diminish. ‘Patient’ is certainly what most of them had had to be.  At least the dwindling numbers gave me the opportunity to move away from the germ-infested mother and her whining infant.

When, fifty-seven minutes after my appointed time, Dr Duffy finally emerged to call my name, I was, needless to say, wound up like the proverbial watch-spring.

Upon entering her consulting room she apologised for the long wait, but offered no explanation as to its cause. I told her that it didn’t matter, as I’d been so intrigued and impressed by a photograph of a wedding gown in Summer Brides June 1998, that I was seriously considering getting a divorce, booking myself in to a private transgender clinic and undergoing a sex change operation, so I could remarry as an attractive women in stunningly beautiful white dress,

She smiled, that kind of sickly, insincere, pitying smile, which one often receives from those who believe themselves to be superior.

Anyway, you may be pleased to know that Dr Duffy informed me that my blood-test results were all normal, but that, inexplicably my blood-pressure was higher than she would have liked. I said nothing.

James Rainsford:  January 2013

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