“I’ve seen you, before haven’t I?” asked the friendly Scotsman. I smiled. In any other circumstance I would be flattered. On this occasion he was leading me down a brightly lit corridor and into a broom cupboard. There he would be giving me a local anaesthetic, so I could have my left shut for good. Finally.
The anaesthetic was administered, and Alana arrived. She would be performing the procedure. We were on first name terms now, which in a hospital setting, is not necessarily a good thing. The surgery was performed without a hitch. After a complimentary cup of tea, biscuits, an epic wait in pharmacy and a penalty tram fare, I was home. Phew.
After a fantastic week in Devon I was back on my home turf, the eye outpatient clinic. It was more packed than usual. Maybe the raised chocolate consumption over Easter led to more eye issues? Who knows? Although my appointment was for 1:30pm, I was called through at 2:15pm, which meant I could watch Doctors, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. So, I arrived in the examining room in quite a good mood.
However, the doctor wasn’t Alana. It was a tired looking registrar who clearly hadn’t read my notes. An interrogation ensued, and it was quite clear that I wasn’t giving the right answers. It revolved the medication I was on which I had forgotten to bring with me. I’d be damned if I could remember the names of the stupid things. I just put them in my eye. End of. She wasn’t happy. I was spat out and told to wait for when Alans was next free.
I sat in the waiting room feeling like a right numbskull. I was easily the youngest in there. How would my older compadres cope in such an interrogation? Then I twigged it. I was at fault because I was individual. My older compadres fitted neatly into their boxes for glaucoma, cataracts, you name it. They could be sorted. Me? Well I was way too individual for that.
I smiled and thought of one of my favourite films, Life of Brian. Brian, somehow becomes seen as The Messiah. In one scene, he opens his curtains, walks onto his balcony, fully naked, only to be greeted by a mob of people shouting “Messiah! Messiah!” Once he has put his clothes on, Brian confronts them telling them that they are all individuals and should believe what they want to believe and not follow him. The crowd chant back what he says. His message gets lost and the crowd begin following him wherever he goes.
I felt a bit like Brian with that doctor. I was trying to tell the doctor my individual condition. She was repeating it back to me but not really listening. She was trying to find a nice comfortable box to put me in so that she would know what to do.
It’s very easy to label and box people. It happens all the time and our tick box culture does not help. Listening is such a powerful skill and is rarely used. Patients aren’t listened to. Parents aren’t listened to. Children and teenagers aren’t listened to. Doctors and nurses aren’t listened to. Sadly, the list gets ever longer.
I finally saw Alana. She was happy. My ulcer was smaller, and she prescribed some weaker antibiotics. I also a week off from going to the eye clinic. Things were looking up.