Now. As regular readers know, I had an appointment at the Ear, Nose & Throat Department at our local hospital to see a consultant and determine whether there is any underlying reason for my persistent hoarse voice and sore throat.
I was already feeling a little… twitched… shall we say about it as when I checked the envelope for the letter with the appointment time I found a leaflet that I had previously missed, explaining how the NHS aims to see all suspected cancer patients within two weeks. I know this is standard procedure – and a good thing too – but still… it played on my mind.
Luckily, Alex was arriving back in town on the same day so he could accompany me. We met up and went to the reception to check in. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more… Anxious enough already – I had a nasty suspicion that the examination would involve an endoscope up my nose – I could feel a panic attack approaching – a distant thundering, like a herd of bison on their way, as my fingertips began to tingle, my heart began to race and the flight reaction kicked in.
“Right! That’s it! I can’t possibly wait any longer!” I declared, and shot to my feet, racing off down the corridor.
Alex caught up with me by the receptionist’s desk and managed to calm me down a little while the lovely receptionist went to find out what was taking so long. It just so happened I was next in line to be called… so with Alex talking to me soothingly and the receptionist guiding they shepherded me to a different waiting area.
I went back to breathing exercises while I waited a further fifteen minutes, the chant in my head going: “You have to find out… you have to find out…” Then finally it was my turn. Unclenching my hands from the seat, swallowing my nausea and wiping the sweat from my brow, closely followed by Alex, I entered the consultation room.
I was met by a duty consultant – not the one I’d been expecting, which threw me a little – a cadavernously thin, sunken eyed and very tall man, with large meaty hands. He looked at me. I looked back. He introduced himself as Dr. G ~ Somethingunprounceable – in an extremely heavy accent which in my already heightened state of panic I could barely understand.
He was a very rude man. He would not let me explain my symptoms before cutting me off – “Yes, yes, I see you are nervous person – I examine you now.”
Then without so much as a by-your-leave he lurched forwards and seized me by the throat. Eyes bulging, I managed to restrain myself from punching him on the nose. He released me and I fell back breathless in the chair, clutching at my neck.
“Yes, yes, nervous person – nothing there. Now we look up your nose.”
“Oh Christ,” I thought – then: “Not bloody likely – I’m off!”
Aloud I said: “No thank you very much not today, I’ll be leaving RIGHT NOW let me out let me out.” I leaped to my feet and tried to exit the room. A nurse stood firmly in my way. I (very bravely) burst into tears…
“What matter with you? Is perfectly normal exam – I have it done myself!” The consultant said.
“I just do not want a camera up my nose – surely there’s some other way!” I squeaked desperately.
“No, no, I numb nose we do it now. Only danger is breaking off inside you if you struggle.”
With that he leant forwards and snapped his rather large teeth in my face. A small part of my mind was saying: “No, pull ourself together, this is your chance to find out that your vocal chords are normal and there’s nothing sinister going on.”
All the time in the background I was aware of Alex talking soothingly to me, but what brought me to my senses was the other nurse who said:
“Here. You can hold my hand.”
Alex said: “You can do this.”
And so it happened… I’ll spare you the gory details… a set of incomprehensible instructions delivered to me by the satanic consultant, all the while I focussed on Alex’s voice, clutching the nurse’s hand and trying not to break it while my other hand jerked upwards wanting to smack the consultant where it would hurt him the most and me the least.
Finally it was over and the camera was withdrawn from my poor violated nostril.
“Oh I forgot, we need still picture, I just put it back in.”
“Oh no. No. No. That’s enough,” I said, wiping tears, snot and local anaesthetic from my face.
I looked at the consultant. He concluded that my loss of voice was all in my head and due to my nervous disposition and gave me an appointment for Speech Therapy (really?!) although to be fair I did find my voice as I left the room. I thanked the nurses most sincerely for their kindness and called him a c*&t. Oops.
But really, his whole “bedside” manner left a lot to be desired, he was patronising, condescending and thoroughly unpleasant. On the other hand, I firmly believe that nurses are God’s representatives on Earth – bless them each and every one.
By the way, there are no abnormalities with my throat, nothing suspicious at all, thank you to everyone for your love and concern. Just as well, really, as I don’t think I would be welcomed back in the ENT department in a hurry!
(Just a note, friends – I was unlucky, the procedure itself is usually pretty straightforward, so if needed, do NOT put off having the same procedure yourself.)