Regular readers might remember I have had a couple of awful go-arounds with upset stomachs, nausea, headaches and so on. Tired of feeling vaguely unwell most of the time, I saw my doctor, who pointed out I might actually have some form of gluten intolerance, coeliac disease or IBS, something like that.
I was upset. I have acknowledged the existence of certain “trigger” foods, like mayonnaise, cheese and chocolate (and potatoes although I think I may have made that one up because I don’t really like potatoes and I’m too afraid to tell my mother after the Brussels Sprouts Incident) but I do eat a fair amount of bread and biscuity stuff.
Passing me the tissues, my doctor, a lovely man, reminiscent of Omar Sharif playing Dr.Zhivago, told me I really would be better off knowing rather than carrying on feeling pukey all the time… Clutching my blood test sheet and a prescription for tablets to make things stay where they should, I trotted off, thinking I could coincide my blood test with a mission to chase up my partner’s latest hospital appointment.
We decided to go the next day and set off… “I don’t really want a blood test…perhaps we should leave it… it’s quite late… I feel sick…” I offered my usual round of excuses. My partner replied quite firmly:
“No, this was your idea, you need to go and get it over and done with.”
I subsided, muttering.
At the hospital, I was appalled to find there was practically an hour and a half wait. We took a ticket and thought we would use the time to pop to the ENT department for my partner’s appointment. That took about twenty minutes and when we returned I was horrified to find out only three more numbers had been called, still leaving about thirty people in front of me.
I hate waiting for things like this and my dentist knows that if she doesn’t see me within ten minutes of my appointment time I will chicken out and lose my nerve and I will run out of the surgery… I whined a little more, to no effect, so I went to the toilet. In the Ladies, of course, not just where I was standing…
When I returned to my partner, I found an older lady had very kindly given him an earlier ticket, since someone had given her theirs. I thanked her, really appreciating the gesture as it shaved another eight people off my waiting time. However, for the moment, I had to wait, sitting on the seat, swinging my legs, much to the annoyance of the lady sitting next to me who sighed and shifted impatiently in her seat… making me take some perverse pleasure in her obvious irritation and swinging my legs faster in the manner of a petulant child…
As you may have gathered, I don’t like blood tests… Eventually my number was up – I mean called, and I entered the room. It was… surreal.
The room was obviously very clean, with blue padded couches stationed around it, with strategic armrests and it was entirely staffed by small blonde women wearing glasses and red tunics. They were conversing in hushed tones about who was finishing at what time and gestured me towards a couch.
I was the only patient in there. Even though four people had gone in before me. Without coming out. Distantly I wondered why red tunics? and then it came to me. In case someone had a …spillage. Eugh.
I meekly gave my details, proffered my forearm, closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and gripped the other armrest. Then my phlebotomist touched me on the shoulder and whispered confidingly I could go and remember to ring my doctor in three days’ time for the results.
I looked down at my arm where a little cloud of cotton wool had been delicately taped to my arm with a strip of tape… then I leaped off the couch and shot out the door – the same one I came in – shouting “Thankyouverymuch!” over my shoulder as I left.
Surreal. As I said.
Later that afternoon, I went to see my mother, who had very proudly baked me a loaf of bread… and very good it was too!