Don’t be alarmed, dear reader, but I have been struck down with a mystery illness. I know it comes as a great surprise that one so mighty and all powerful could be afflicted with a physical ailment but it happens to the best of us, just to remind us of what it feels like for the mere mortals around us.
If you must know, I’ve been doing a marvellously accurate portrayal of a fading Victorian romance novel heroine and swooning all over the place. Most inconvenient, and I have to say, it must make the place look really rather untidy with me draped all over a tube station platform. So, having made myself about as popular as an eggy fart in a broken lift with my work chums, due to my having to jettison work duties left, right and centre, and spending the days feeling as flat as a burst balloon in a training bra, I decided (with a
severe arm twisting little encouragement from my Boything), to visit the doctor.
Of course, I’m only visiting the doctor because I’ve Googled my symptoms and have already diagnosed that I either have a very rare blood disorder that can only be cured by having my blood replaced with that of a budgie, or I’m a Ford Fiesta. Either way, the professionals need to be notified and therefore an appointment must be made. Simple, right? Oh come on! Why on earth would I be writing about it if it were simple? If it were simple, I’d have said “I went to the doctor, it was fine. The end” but I didn’t, did I? Apparently, even though we have a magnificent free healthcare system, there are certain trials you must complete before you are considered worthy of an audience with one of the many complimentary practitioners.
First of all, you want an appointment now because you are ill now. Well, you should have thought of that before, shouldn’t you?! Suddenly you realise that when you moved house in June, the one thing you didn’t do was to register with a new doctor, because you carelessly didn’t plan on getting ill. Well, now your old doctor won’t see you because you’ve moved out of their catchment (they really don’t deal with rejection well) and your new doctor won’t see you because you haven’t passed the Three Fiery Trials Of Hippocrates yet.
The first of the fiery trials would be Trial By Telephone. Normally, one would assume that a telephone is there for the function of being answered. Not so at the doctor’s surgery. There it is a test of your resolve and of just how sick you really are. You see, people who are just a little bit poorly will give up after the first three hours of being on hold and the ones who are really sick will have died, so that leaves only the ones who are just the right amount of sick for the doctor to bother with and after 14 more hours of waiting on hold, they can be put through to the nosiest receptionist on Earth, who gained her delicate questioning technique at Guantanamo Bay.
Having ascertained as many of your most embarrassing secrets and patronised you to within an inch of your last nerve, she presents you with the second fiery trial – Trial By Registration. You will be made to schlep all the way to the doctor’s office to fill in some forms and present 17 different documents confirming proof of address, proof of ID, proof of bra size and favourite Skittles flavour. There is no way this can be done by fax or phone (can’t you see she needs to free up the phone line so she can sit listening to it putting someone else through their first fiery trial!) and so you must take half a day off work to go and fill out your name on 26 identical pieces of paper, while delivering your passport, school report from 1991 and 3 special tokens from a cereal box. Having done all this, you are then ready for the third fiery trial. The Nurse.
Having completed your registration paperwork, you must take one of only 4 available appointments in anything between 2-47 weeks time to see a nurse. For those who live long enough to make the appointment, you might think this would be a chance to discuss your primary health concern. Oh no, this is to check how well you can lie when being asked how often you drink more than 3 bottles of wine a day, while balancing on a set of scales, being told you’re 12lbs heavier than the bus you arrived on, and being robbed of 4 litres of blood. The nurse will also try her hardest to suggest you should be on the contraceptive pill (even if you’re a man, are 80 and never have sex) and that she needs to stick her finger up your business end. Survive this, and you’re ready to see the doctor now.
Well, you would be if you could get an appointment because, ha ha, trick’s on you! The real fiery trial was in trying not to catch one of the numerous life threatening ailments being tossed around the waiting room by the hoard of germ infested mutants on one of your many pre-appointment appointments, and then in trying to actually book an available time slot with the doctor within the next 7 months, which you can only do if you call in the nano-second between the doctor’s office opening and the sea of 500 psychic appointment bookers all getting on the line before you. This call takes days to perfect so now you’re riddled with several varieties of flesh-eating bacteria and you’ve had to quit your job to focus full time on securing and attending appointments, all just so you can tell the doctor what Google said.
Thinking about it, maybe being a Ford Fiesta isn’t so bad.