(Repost) Return to the NHS

(This is an old post I’ve moved over from a blog I used to have. I wanted to get rid of the blog but save some of the posts. The original was posted on 27/08/2009.)

Well today I went to the consultant for another follow up. Once again it was a total waste of time. Let me elaborate.

I was originally supposed to be going for my next check up on 15/07/09 but this was cancelled by the hospital and postponed to todays date, 27/08/09. A whole month later. Good job I’m not having any major problems isn’t it? The reason for this cancellation was that “Mr Shah will not be able to attend clinic that day.” A fair enough reason.

Or it would be had Mr Shah actually been there today. I didn’t see him. Not necessarily a bad thing as I dislike the man but still, if I’ve had an appointment postponed due to his inability to be in the clinic I would expect him to actually be there for my new appointment, even if I personally wasn’t attended to by him. Instead they had a volunteer. Yes, a volunteer. I was told nothing about this man except that he was a volunteer. He could have been a specialist, a GP, a nurse or a cafeteria cook for all I know. I will say this for the man though; he had a better bedside manner than Mr Shah could ever dream of and it was still woefully lacking.

My appointment was at least on time for once. In fact it was early which is unheard of! So I headed in to meet his ‘volunteer’ (I don’t even have a clue what his name was) and he started out with opening up my file to the page with my endoscopic photographs and a brief detail of the surgery done. He didn’t exactly impress me when he said, after studying the page, “Ah so you’ve had some stuff removed and a telescope in your arm.” I’m pretty sure they didn’t manage to fit an entire telescope inside my elbow. Oh and it’s called a radial head excision, not ‘stuff removal’.  He also said “These pictures won’t mean anything to you, just blurry shots inside your arm.” Well actually yes, they do. I’ve studied the elbow joint anyway to gain an understanding of my condition not to mention they’re actually pretty clear pictures and being x-rays of bones, pretty obvious. It’s not like I was looking at a scan of my brain trying to find the tiny spot that indicated a tumour.

He then asked me to straighten my arm, once. Bend it halfway (it’s bending it all the way I can’t do so halfway isn’t going to show him anything) and then to twist it. He had no clue how the movement was before and therefore couldn’t comment on it now anyway. He also never touched it. I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure if I was checking up on someones surgery I’d want to have a poke and feel to see how it is; you can’t tell everything from movement, particularly movement that is limited and wrong anyway. I also informed him that the past few weeks it has started to ache again; far less than before but still enough to drive me to painkillers twice.

His conclusion in this 5 minute consultancy? “I’m going to discharge you. Just try to ignore the arm, if you keep thinking ‘oh my elbow, oh my elbow’ then it will seem worse. It may get better it may get worse, see how it goes and if it gets worse come to see us to get it chopped off.” Yes, that feeble joke at the end is what gives him a better bedside manner than Mr Shah. So basically the whole point of this exercise has been to just get on with life the way I have for the past 15 years.

I’m glad I had the procedure done, it has been a vast improvement, even if it only lasts a year before deteriorating back to the previous state. I loved the physiotherapist but honestly as far as the consultants go… well I might as well have just asked Steve to do it at home and would have gotten the same result. I’m glad to have been discharged because frankly going back there for check-ups was pointless. Hopefully by the time I do have to return because the pain is unbearable, I’ll have a different local hospital and consultant.

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