Monday, 12 November 2012

Madam - can I interest you in a spot of...medical probing???

I am now officially the property of the NHS. Appointments come thick and fast. Each day letters with the NHS logo come through the letterbox. I am invited to different clinics and hospitals to undergo a myriad of procedures all of which will help form the full picture of my illness. As of this moment there’s a lump in my breast and some blockages in my lymph nodes but they need more information – more stuff and I need to have different things done to me in order for them to get the stuff they need so that I can get better.

At this stage however it is all so overwhelming. For somebody who has never engaged with the NHS in any way, bar having a baby, this is all new unchartered territory which I have explored only with my mother at close quarters but even then for a woman of 83 she’s done pretty well at steering well away from the inner workings of the NHS – just dabbling on the outer edges with regular appointments to see the doctor to confirm she’s still demented and to get her toe nails cuts all of which I take her to. God what a glamorous life I lead. Who’d have thought it all those partying, intoxicated, crazy days and nights would end like this… the selfish, feckless girl who just (allegedly) cared about herself and her own pleasures would be the one making sure that her mother’s little bit of memory and her dignity (as well as her toenails) were being kept intact. Would wonders never cease! Still those are musings for another post…

So suddenly I am on the mailing list for the NHS and each day the postie pops the letters through the door and I go, with dread and a heavy heart, to see what is in store for my frightened body and fairly feeble mind. I start to yearn for the days of junk mail. Surely someone, somewhere wants to sell me an awning, double glazing or solar panels. I silently plead for someone to need my spare clothing for charity, my money for a hungry child somewhere in Africa or indeed to buy up all my unwanted gold.  I tentatively turn the envelopes over hoping that I will need to immediately dispatch a postal order (do those still exist?) or cheque (can we still use these?) or make three easy payments towards a commerative coin or plate or a limited edition print of animals in hilarious or cute poses. But no it’s an appointment letter telling me what procedure is required to be undertaken, what will happen, what I need to do to make it happen and where and when it will happen. Oh cruel god of post and its junk mail disciple. WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN  ME IN MY HOUR OF NEED?

How many appointments can or should one person have to undergo for something they didn’t even know they had a week ago and suddenly is being dealt with in such speed that my head is spinning and I am starting to fear that things are worse than I’ve been lead to believe.

I still can’t get over the fact that I feel absolutely fine. Really well and although tired from my attempts at trying to have it all and do it all - relatively healthy. So why are they just not cutting this thing out of my tit and letting me go on my way? Why all the drama and build up? Why has everything become about medical procedures and probing? What are they looking for? I suddenly feel so ignorant to the world of cancer. For someone who thinks they are pretty well informed I feel overwhelming ignorant. Even though two of my good friends have been through this, that I lost a good friend to cancer and my grandmother died of cancer I find myself at 43 years of age knowing absolutely nothing about this and feeling very much like a lamb to slaughter. I want to speak to my friends who have been through this but it feels ghoulish and tasteless - making them pick at the scabs which I am sure have well and truly covered their wounds just to make it better for me.

I am scared to inform myself via the wonderful world wide web as I think it may tell me things I really don’t want to know and that things are indeed worse than I think. I need to get to a place of understanding that I am comfortable about and so that I can start to see these medical processes as just steps that need to be taken to getting me better. If I can see them as building blocks to recovery then maybe I won’t fear the arrival of the postman. Maybe I will be less fearful of the procedures ahead of me such as “MRI” or “CT Scan”. Maybe it will stop this inane need to have an onslaught of junk mail just to make me feel normal again…  

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