Tuesday 22 February 2011

Life Is Full Of Surprises

It is a filthy wet morning and I have to walk to the doctors. The appointment is in the middle of the rush hour and there is no parking anywhere near the surgery. So I stagger down there muttering curses most of the way.

When I get there, he is running late again, this time very late, there has been a patient crisis that had to be sorted fast. OK this is what doctors do, the luck of the draw so there is a wait.

The seats in the waiting room seem to have been designed by persons who like to inflict pain before interrogation so the back tells me to stand but there is nowhere to stand except the middle of the room and that would look silly.

To keep us happy they are playing music through the Tannoy. It is a very old system and the sound quality is worse than that at any railway station. As for the music it is a mix of the most mind numbing mid 20th Century ballads sung by singers who shout out of tune.

Ten minutes in and the brain is telling me it does not like it and my head begins to ache. I begin to want aliens to land and take me somewhere else, anywhere else.

Then I begin to get the hit in the lungs. The room has no ventilation and is already full. The fug of various chemicals coming off the clothing and bodies is building up. I am not the only one to be getting a hit.

Around the room the coughing and wheezing increases in intensity. At least it is better than the music.

At last my name is called. The doctor asks me about a complaint that is strictly female. I explain kindly to him that I am male. He clicks his mouse a few times and realises that something is wrong with the listings on his computer so we sort that one out.

Then he tells me he has to take my blood pressure. I already have a long list of home readings. No go, the rules say that to meet the targets he has to take it. The figures are stratospheric. He tells me he has to prescribe something. The rules say so and the targets have to be met.

I remind him that the last time we went through this rigmarole the pills he gave me had me running up and down to the local dermatology clinic to sort out the severe skin problems that resulted. He looks for pills that might avoid this without success.

After some discussion we decide that the previous prescription still being on file we skip on a new one as he can still claim to be on target.

Now in the press I gather that the NHS has realised that there might be issues with blood pressure readings in surgeries and hospitals due to White Coat Syndrome. This is something that has been known about ever since I first encountered the NHS in 1950 when I was doing the paperwork for my doctor uncle.

I gather from the financial press that pharmaceutical companies are recommended as safe bets for the future and economies are needed in the NHS.

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