Wednesday, 9 May 2012

I'm battling with the Medics again

Back from Africa, and now for my medical appointments.  Lined up are:

1. the Audiovestibular department follow-up to my examination for a hearing aid; this got funnelled into an MRI scan that revealed a nasal problem (nothing specified), so;
2. an Ear, Nose and Throat examination to pursue this issue, and;
3. my annual visit to the Opthalmology department for a check on the open-angle closure primary glaucoma condition that showed up at my last visit to Specsavers in Leeds, and led to a very nice doctor offering to laser drill drain holes in both eyes after just 45 minutes' acquaintance;
All these are at Royal Hallamshire Hospital (RHH) a convenient 5-minute walk from both home and the Jesus Centre.

ENT Dept appears to be just a corridor, and I take a seat opposite the consultant's office.  He greets me with, "So, you've come about the polyps...?"  No answer comes, though I try hard.  "No" would be right because nobody's here-to-fore mentioned a polyps, but wrong because this is obviously why I've been referred.  "Yes" would be right because this is why I've been referred, but wrong because I didn't actually know.  Overlying this is my recollection that - about at my present age - my Dad had a polyps removed, chipped out with a neat stainless steel chisel, which wasn't a happy procedure.  I wasn't about to volunteer...  I'm performing the acoustic equivalent of eye-contact avoidance.

He continues, "Let's have a look," and then declares, "Hmm, can't see anything; but there's some congestion there."   At this point I'm finding the consultant's nurse is too animated for comfort.  She's left the admin desk and my notes, and is dancing around my chair.  Out comes the nasal spray with a long fine dangling tip.  It disappears down the back of my sinuses while they squeeze the pump.  "You'll feel a bit strange."  Our man and his assistant smile.  And I'm back in the corridor while the decongestant "has time".

I've brought Norman Grubb's paperback account of the Congo revival.  It's great, and took place not so far from where I visited in Rwanda, and within living memory.  But my head now feels like marshmallow.  I can't swallow; in fact, I can't rely on my breathing.  I find I've forgotten my handkerchief.   Like nobody explained about the polyps, I wasn't told about the spray's anaesthetic effect.

I'm ushered in again, and grab a tissue.  "No." I grit, as I'm asked if I'm okay.  "Hmm. Let's have another look."  Consultant advances with a shiny size 7 knitting needle.  Assistant switches on computer just out of my field of vision.  He deftly negotiates the convolutions of my nasal passages.  The tip lodges somewhere near the back of my skull.  "Ooh, lovely view," Assistant enthuses.  "Y-essss."  She can hardly contain her delight.  They smile at the screen.  

"Rhinitis," My man declares.  "Have you ever had drops or anything?"  I can't remember that I have.  "We'll prescribe you a spray.  Try it for a month.  If it improves things, you'll know in a couple of weeks.  You can get another prescription from your GP."  Audience over.

I collect the little plastic bottle from the in-house dispensary and trudge home.  I Google rhinitis.  There's allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis, pregnancy rhinitis, persistent rhinitis, vasomotor rhinitis, seasonal rhinitis, medicamentosa rhinitis, atrophic rhinitis, rhinitis-sinusitis.  There's even feline rhinitis.  Mine is indeterminate.

It occurs to me shortly after that I still haven't heard from the Audiovestibular department.  I ring my local GP centre, explain, and ask them to contact RHH.  The nice lady phones back in a couple of days.  "Oh, they apologise.  You've been overlooked."   In a long queue in these days of cuts, I can understand.  Overlooked doesn't inspire confidence.  "A letter will go out within a fortnight."

Three weeks pass: no letter.  I ring my GP reception again.  "Oh, they read the last sentence and it said 'call back for review in 12 month', but they didn't notice you're supposed to be getting a Device appointment.  Sorry about that.  The confirmation should come in a about a fortnight."  It does.  It's only taken since October - eight months. 

No comments: