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No Holds Barred – A Good Appointment

I’m currently still in the process of putting this blog into book format. To do so has meant fictionalising all of the characters, myself included along with hospital names, places etc. I’ve edited the blog itself considerably and it’s always written in retrospect, I don’t publish events as they happen. The book will be largely unedited, hence the fictionalisation – I can’t possibly use real names or hospitals, it wouldn’t be fair. Not as much actually happens now I’m four years on – thankfully! I have however recently had my four year check up at the Queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham. This was my first proper appointment with the specialist nurse and having found her so helpful when we met initially last year I was really looking forward to seeing her again. It was an excellent appointment and she was so helpful answering all my questions and reassuring me no end. We’re almost the same age, a year apart and have the same birthday. Even better, she’s also a runner – a very good one! The following is my write up of how that appointment began, from a shaky start I came away feeling pleased that I’d made the change to the QE. The journey I’ve been on via two other hospitals is not the norm, in an ideal world I’d never have had to move. This appointment gave me the opportunity to tell the nurse what events led to my being one of her patients. I needed her to know what I’d been through to better understand my fears. What I really wanted was for her to know who I was and why I was really there. The account I gave was the unedited version.

My glasses were steaming up. I’d had a few tears earlier, it was probably that along with the heat of the car. I’m used to 6 gears and air con but my Mom’s Micra screamed at over 60 miles per hour and the blowers felt like they were on gas mark 6. Today’s journey was not pleasant but I was determined to get there.

The QE has a few different approaches so I’d left my phone’s sat nav running for when I neared the hospital. Unfortunately, as I turned off the A38 so did my phone, I glanced down to read, ‘phone apps are shutting down due to overheating’. Brilliant.

The hospital loomed up ahead of me, the suns rays illuminating it’s spherical outlines and then, like a mirage it vanished. I negotiated one mini roundabout after another, catching glimpses of the monster medical centre then losing sight straight after. Signs beckoning me towards my destination, I followed excitedly catching sight of a multistorey car park. Pulling up to the barrier I read, ‘Staff Only’. Shit!

Taking a deep breath I reversed back onto the neverending QE highway and continued circumnavigating Britain’s biggest hospital. With twenty minutes to spare I managed to locate some patient parking near the old building which meant a lengthy treck over to the new centre where outpatients was held.

The beautiful weather had brought people out into the sunshine. The lawns in front of the main entrance resembled a park, people lay reading books, eating ice creams and chatting with family and friends. The difference here was the number held up by crutches, struggling with slings and laying on trolley beds with drips attached.

Once inside the huge entrance to the main building it’s hard to know where to look, every which way – including upwards, is bustling with activity. I passed through the first reception area into the second to await my call to the third. Each seated waiting area is distinguished by it’s seat colour, I was sent to the blue chairs to watch scrolling screens that intermittently flashed up patients names with instructions of where to go next. I looked around, all heads faced the screens, no one wanted to miss their turn. I’d planned on going through my notes for the nurse but found myself glued to the screen, I was still ten minutes early.

It was now that I felt alone. I’d insisted on going by myself, no point taking anyone else along, after all it was to discuss my results and ongoing care. Sitting in this huge hospital amongst so many other patients now made me feel quite lonely.

Maybe it was to do with the call I’d had earlier though, that had really knocked my confidence. I’d been waiting for this appointment a long time. It was to be my first one with a specialist nurse and the first at the QE since I met the consultant when first referred. For me it was the first normal appointment in 3 years and I’d prepared questions that had been with me almost that long.

Earlier that day I’d had a call from the nurse suggesting I may want to have my blood tests done locally. She said as they were happy with my scan results and it was a long way I could save myself a journey to the appointment. I’d been stood in Morrisons with my trolley and I was completely taken aback. Having prepared for this day for so long, sorting the car, writing my notes, was she seriously suggesting it may be a waste of my time? My tears started to fall. I explained how important today was to me, how I’d hoped it would help put past bad experience behind me. Was my 3rd hospital also trying to get rid of me.

The nurse was very apologetic and reassured me it was nothing of the sort, she genuinely thought I may find the treck over a waste of time. I remained firm that I needed this appointment and so it was left. Now as I sat waiting amongst a sea of patients in this vast space I felt very small and insignificant. Part of me just wanted to walk away, what was the point?

In no time I saw my name splashed across the screen with an arrow directing me onwards. I made my way through to the final waiting room and had barely sat down when my name was called, bang on 2pm.

The specialist nurse, whom I’d met once before came to greet me and smiling took my hand and led the way to a consultation room. She was lovely, just as I’d remembered her. The words of my daughter rang true in my head. After the call earlier she’d spoken to me and said the call I’d received that morning was a mistake, the nurse had simply misread things and called it wrong. To be fair she had no idea what I’d gone through previously and why I was now at this hospital.

Reaching into my bag I took out my prepared notes, she was about to find out.


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