The day had arrived. No cancellation had come through. Game on. It was mad Tuesday. I had an appointment in oncology at nine at City Hospital. Then I had the big one at the QMC at half eleven. Two appointments at two different hospitals in the same morning. Could it be done? You better believe it!
Oncology is a very strange and stressful place. It’s hard to say which waiting room is worse, oncology or chemotherapy. For me oncology just edges it. The main reason is the awful anticipation that exists there. The patients in oncology are waiting for scan results, treatment updates and all many of the most stressful things that you encounter when you are having treatment for cancer. Sometimes they will hear what they want to hear. Sometimes it’s the worst news you could possibly want to hear. In the waiting room you have no idea which one it’ll be.
Fortunately for me, my appointment there was just a check up to make sure I was still alive. I was called through and saw a registrar. He set up the scans that I have every six months to check that everything was tickety boo. I breezed out with an appointment to go back there in three months’ time.
Now time for the big one. I was slightly nervous entering the ENT reception given my shenanigans the previous week, yet no one battered an eyelid. After about fifteen minutes I was called through to sit outside Mr Q’s door alongside an elderly couple. They were called in as soon as I arrived. This looked promising as I was next on the list. As I sat down, an elderly man came hurrying down the corridor.
“Dad! For goodness sake! It’s THIS clinic here!” shouted a woman, who I assumed was his daughter.
“Nearly made my escape…” said the man giving me a wink.
“You can’t leave these ninety six year olds anywhere!” said the woman directing her dad to the clinic next door.
Once they left another elderly couple came and sat next to me. They were obviously next in the queue after me. The man’s, who must have been in his late seventies or early eighties, mouth was identical to mine. We both did a bit of a double take.
“You don’t mind if I do my back exercises? It’s just I can feel it all seizing up.” said his wife.
I said I had no problem and we discussed various lower back exercises, what worked and what didn’t. I went to put some rubbish in the nearest bin and on my return, I noticed something. The man had no left ear. So not only had he had the same surgery as me, he also had to have his left ear removed.
It was a bit of a wake-up call Surely if anyone who needed any facial reconstruction it was this man? Yes, I was younger and could probably recover quicker, but this man had no ear!
I was called through, and my appointment was quite quick. Mr Q had seen that I had been to eye casualty. He said that he wanted to get my eye sorted first, before he could do my mouth. I had received an appointment to go to the eye clinic in March to discuss what was happening then. So, I made an appointment to go back to ENT in six months’ time. Hopefully my eye should be sorted then.
I left feeling not too bad. It wasn’t great news but I’m willing to wait as clearly there are people who need surgery far more than me. It’s amazing that we are living longer than ever before. However rather than be celebrated, this is a problem. Our health service needs to adapt to accommodate the changing needs to its population. Staff shortages, lack of beds and poor communication are making existing problems even worse. This requires long term thinking at a time when everyone wants to make a buck and then get out quick. This situation doesn’t show any sign of changing while we carry on constantly putting out fires rather than stop the fire from starting in the first place.