Wednesday, January 19, 2011

*cough* *gag*

Ah, the joy of hospitals. I should perhaps be a bit more sympathetic, but there's few things I like less than sitting in a waiting room full of sick people. I know, I know. Technically I'm sick too, or I wouldn't be there. And there may be a time when I really need the help of those hard working and uncomplaining doctors and nurses. But waiting rooms, full of sick people...

So today I had to go to Bronglais to see the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. It's taken a while to get the appointment, as is always the way. Normally the symptoms of whatever undiagnosable ailment I have start to disappear as the approach of the appointment day looms, but not so this time. If anything the irritating whine in my ear has grown louder recently. Giving up milk seems to have made bugger all difference to it, although it did help me lose a lot of weight. If I'm being completely honest, I have to admit to the odd lapse. Life's too short to live without cheese, and just occasionally I long for a decent latte. By and large, though, I've been milk very much reduced for getting on four months now. Cheese notwithstanding (and reduced amounts means I can afford to splash out occasionally on something really smelly), it's a diet I will probably stick with if only because I like being a stone and a half lighter than I was.

But I digress. Bronglais. I handed over my appointment letter and was told to go and sit with the sick people. Fortunately I only had to wait about fifteen minutes past my allotted time, after which I was ushered into a sound-proof room with heavy, padded double doors. Here they tested my hearing and declared it 'very good'. That's nice to know, but what about this annoying ringing sound? Oh, that's just tinnitus. You'll have to get used to that.

The doctor also peered into my ears with an otoscope, and pronounced himself satisfied as to their cleanliness and lack of wax, which was nice to know. But what about cures? What about treatment?

Before I could say anything I was ushered out the door. I thought that was it, but apparently no. A nurse pointed me in the direction of another group of sick people, told me to go sit and wait. It's at times like these that an iphone or similar device comes in handy. I was able to read the first three chapters of Wilkie Collins' classic novel The Moonstone (available for free on Kindle for iphone) whilst I waited to be called again. Eventually I was shown into a different room where a different doctor stuck a different otoscope in my ears and declared them not only wax free but excellent, and also commented on the clarity of my hearing. Then he wrote out some details on an official-looking piece of paper and told me to go back to the sick waiting room again.

This time I only had to wait a chapter before being bundled into yet another room. The same doctor as before (though still different from the first time) then asked me, somewhat bewilderingly, which side I favoured breathing on. Now I've heard of handedness - I favour the right as it happens, although can manage a surprising amount with the left. I've heard of favouring a particular eye when looking at things, and a particular leg when walking. I've never been asked about breathing before. I assumed the doctor meant which nostril I tended to use, but generally I use both at the same time. Well, except in the summer, hayfever months when I tend to use neither. I have no control over them at all, wayward things that they are.

Before I could ponder this curious question further, the doctor had already made up his mind, opting for the right nostril up which he proceeded to shove a very long, very thin endoscope.

It didn't hurt. I can't quite say it was an enjoyable sensation - particularly not when it slid down the back of my throat. But there was no pain involved. I had to say 'Eeee' a lot and then with a slithery pop, the endoscope was removed. Almost instantly the nurse was at my side with a long paper bag, of the sort you might use to hold baguettes in the bakery. She took the endoscope, now slimed with my nasal and throaty mucuses, and, handling it like a particularly belligerent snake, slid it into the bag. Then she scuttled off, no doubt to the autoclaves.

The smiling doctor told me there was nothing wrong with my nasal passages, throat or other internal spaces, but thought an MRI scan was in order. Sadly this means another wait, as there is always a long queue for the expensive machines that go ping. I also have to make an appointment to see the doctor again, but not until two weeks after my MRI scan, so he can have time to look at the results and think of a suitable non-excuse for my ailment. Or more likely do nothing until the day I arrive, the frown a lot and make tutting noises as he tries to read them quickly.

The whole sorry exercise took about an hour and a half of my time, fully ten minutes of which was spent being tested in one way or another. I guess that's not too bad in the context of the four months it took to get the appointment in the first place. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to get my go on the MRI. I don't think I've got any metal plates in me anywhere, but I must remember to take my glasses off beforehand.

And now it's time to drink beer until I can get the taste of endoscope out of the back of my throat. Ack.



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