Not exactly walking wounded...
This morning's experience of the NHS was on the whole a good one. Of course it helps that my GP is one of my best friends and so he was happy to see me before morning surgery rather than wait for a slot sometime next week.
The day started at my GP's surgery. It's a while since I'd been there. The place was smart, clean, efficient and modern. I was impressed. Once I'd described my symptoms (persistent leg cramps, tingling in my legs & feet and easy bruising) I had to strip and then be prodded, poked, tapped and pricked along with suitable requests as to whether it hurt, ached or made any difference. I was made to lie down on his couch, stick my legs in the air, wiggle my toes, push against him and generally do all manner of undignified things. He eventually seemed satisfied that he had dome all he could and packed me off to the local Mile End Hospital to have a comprehensive set of blood tests done (see below) and a couple of x-rays to look for any trapped nerves or other back problems. His initial diagnosis was 'stocking and glove' neuropathy: cause unknown. That's a problem with the nerves that can effect the hands and feet (hence the name). This might help explain my symptoms. Oh well. Good to have a name for it anyhow.
As the hospital was only a short walk away I ambled down the road. Soon getting myself lost and having to ask for directions. D'oh! Hospitals of a certain age in London all look the same so I shouldn't have had much trouble finding it. A scatter of Victorian brick buildings normally only rising to just a first or occasionally a second floor in height. Somewhere on the site they inevitably seem to have a 60s looking 5 floor mini-tower building such as a 'heart ward' or a 'chemotherapy wing' tacked on the the end of the site - probably donated by some national charity or local philanthropist. Eventually I found the right place I sat waiting my turn in the 'blood test' waiting room (and bogging from my phone). As I was watching the other queuers out of the corner of my eye I noticed a plaque on the wall. Princess Michael of Kent had opened this wing in 1994. Blood testing isn't a very glamorous wing I would have thought, but then she's not a very glamorous Royal either, I suppose. I think the Queen must get all the big hospital wings to open. She'll be first on the list for 'cardiac care' or 'eye surgery'. The lesser Royals (Charles? Anne?) get things like 'baby unit' and 'x-ray' department leaving the rather sadder 'blood test' and the 'canteen' for the minor Royals (the Kents? Edward?) and the odd councilor. It's the hospital pecking order I suppose. Life can be cruel.
The two female vampires that eventually took my blood were friendly enough. "Tea? No? You been fasting? Good. What you got then? You don't know? Didn't they tell you? Oh, they don't know yet. I see. Take care, dear". I had to give five rather large amounts of blood. As Tony Hancock said, "that's almost an arm full !" Luckily the x-ray department was nearby so my slight lightheadedness from blood loss wasn't too much of a problem as a wobbled down the corridor. As I tottered in they were equally friendly but thrust a piece of paper in my hand stating in large type "Results of all GP Requests will take at least THREE WEEKS". I didn't know whether that was something they were boasting about or warning about. Still, I was the only one waiting so I was soon called in. "Strip to the underpants and put this gown on", said this young woman. "Doesn't matter which way round. Your clothes will be safe in there", pointing to cubical that had a large sign above it saying, "Notice: clothes are left at owners risk". Quite where else I could have left my clothes I have no idea. Having got changed I padded off after the woman who then positioned me on a very uncomfortable bed in a large white room while a huge metallic contraption was gradually lowered from the ceiling and positioned to be pointing at my stomach. "Don't you use lead to protect the eyes and stuff?" I asked her. "No", she said, "we go behind that screen". I laughed, "Not you! Me!" She just looked at me blankly. Suit yourself, I thought. "Why does it take three weeks for the results?" I asked her afterwards. "Dunno", she said. She obviously lost the passion for her job some time ago. Maybe it's all that radiation.
Having finished at the hospital I made my way back into town to go to work. I called my GP on his cell phone en route. He said that he'd expect the bloods back by next week and would give me a call then. So a successful morning really. I'm an arm down on blood, slightly less likely to have children and slightly more likely to get eye cataracts. But on the up side I'm a little bit closer to finding out what's wrong with me.