4. Measure Me

tape measure 2

Unless it’s A&E or the Orthopaedics department (For those who watch Love Island – Skeleton, bones and tendons) you can never really tell what people are in hospital for. Little Johnny has his foot in plaster, Bob is on crutches etc. The haematology department (Love Islanders – Blood) is one of those places where you could have fun while you waited. What you have to do is guess the name of the person waiting and their aliment based on their body language. I pulled out my ticket, took my seat and had a look at who was around.

That’s Nicholas, two-piece suit and neat rucksack by his feet, typing into a Blackberry, looking clearly miserable. Well if you were higher up the corporate ladder you would have private medical instead of being here with people beneath you. I would say either an unknown stress related problem or the wrong masseuse on the company credit card. There’s Essex boy Jason laughing and joking into his mobile. That will be late night kebab and dodgy girl you should have steered clear of. Then over  there in the third row is Michelle. Pretty little thing with big sweet doe eyes, looking like she is going to burst into tears in any minute. She was such a nice girl, never done anything like this before. Hmm maybe she brought back more a horrible reminder from that holiday romance she thought would last forever. I know, I know but it made my time fly.

This is one of those departments that use the self-service ticket system. It is completely fair and civilised, that’s as long as you remember to take a ticket. If you hear a loud sigh or tut followed by a loud snatch and a moaned curse that would be the person who didn’t realise they had to take one. My number has twenty or so people in front of it but five have already gone since I sat down so I would not have long to go. So we all sat in silence analysing one another while listening for the bleep and keeping a beady eye on the number display. All we needed now is a ‘runner’. A runner you ask? That’s the person who misjudges where they are in the queue and then suddenly realises that their number has already gone. Just as everything was going so smoothly we had our first runner.

She comes back in apparently breathless and sees that her number has long gone. She flaps and flails and she moan’s. The display is not big enough, the bleep is not loud enough. She looks around for support from the outraged masses but no one will give her eye contact, she has no-one to help her start the revolution. She did get lots of eye rolling though and shakes of heads. She flaps some more. She has been waiting a long time. She pays her taxes, she even voted labour and she is not well. Eventually the next available nurse ushers her over and into one of the cubicals and then silence reigns again. She might have got more sympathy had she not still had the still glowing electronic cigarette in her hand.

Now it’s my turn. The male nurse barely looks up as I give him a cheery hello. I hand over the letter from the clinic he reads it and then clatters a number of test tubes from the tray to the desk and attaches labels with my name on them. He gestures towards my right arm which I place on the table. He snaps on some new gloves and starts tapping my forearm. He then continues to tap away up and down my arm like he is sending a secret morse code message.  I look at him, he looks at me. He taps again. I wonder if haematology is the equivalent of punishing nurses like how cops are given traffic duty. I mean you just sit there nonchalantly all day just taking blood is there job satisfaction?

“I bled 50 people today”

“When I bled 65 today”

“Well mine had ebola”

“Well mine had something that has not even been discovered yet”

Maybe I should help him out. Or he was quite likely to gently tap me to death, like Chinese water torture.

“They normally take blood from my left arm” I smiled.

Does he want me to apologise that I don’t happen to have bulging veiny arms like a marvel comic character?  He taps again and then starts to massage my left forearm like I told him I needed stress relief. I was tempted to take out a pen and draw an ‘x’ for him on my forearm when he suddenly manages to find one of the thousands of veins I have in my body. He nonchalantly fills his bottles and he is away.

I had been told that it would take two weeks for the results to come through. I called the middle of the second week and they were still not ready. On the Friday of the second week I was minding my business as you do and I got a text message from a number not in my contact list.

‘Your appointment is booked. Tue 27th March at 3.00pm at Urology Centre – Southward Wing, Guys Hospital. View your appointments online by visiting blah blah. We look forward to seeing you. The Urology Team’

Putting aside my audition form for ‘Love Island’ I looked up Urology on google because I didn’t have a clue what it meant.

‘Urology Health. Relates to the urogenital system in both men and women. These are the parts responsible for producing, storing and discharging urine (kidney, bladder, and urethra) and the parts of the body involved in sexual function (Prostate, penis and testicles)’

OK then. I instantly disqualified myself from ‘Love Island’ by correctly deducing that this was to do with my recent blood test. I sat thinking about it for a while and then called the surgery. A bright young bubbly thing answered after a couple of rings.

“Hi I have just received a text message from Guys hospital about an appointment that I have not made. Is that something to do with you guys?” I asked. She asked for my name and date of birth. Then asked me to hold the line. About two minutes later she returned.

“Ah yes I made that this morning for you” she answered still as sickly chirpy as before.

“Erm why is that?  I have only been waiting for my blood test results” I asked.

“The doctor will be giving you a call to discuss the result of the test but he is in a meeting at the moment”

I called again later and he was still in his meeting. I left it another hour and called again and then again.

“Hi it’s me again. You know I am not normally a nervous person but this is like booking me in for an operation and then you ringing me back to say the local undertaker just happens to be in the area so can he just come and measure me up – but nothing to worry about”

It didn’t just go over her head, I heard it actually ricochet off her chirpy forehead and fall away somewhere.

She apologised again and said the doctor was aware I have called a number of times and promised the doctor would be calling me. Away I went away again.

Just after 4pm the doctor called me. He introduced himself and apologised for keeping me waiting. If he was upset that I had been stalking his switchboard he did a good job of hiding it. He then spent the next five minutes telling me about the PSA and much of what I said in blog 3 (tut, tut – shame on you if you skipped that). He mentioned that if the PSA is under 10 it is considered low risk but anything over 3.5 it is automatically referred to hospital. If the PSA is over 10 you are considered medium risk and anything over 20 is considered high risk.

“Do you have any questions?” He finally asked

“Just the one”, I replied. What was my PSA score?”

“Your score was 8.7”

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