“Do you have someone with you?” The consultant asked, without bothering to look at me. I sat for a minute, waiting to see if he would throw me a glance; he didn’t. I started to bite my lip, not to stop the tears, but to stop the sarcasm that was brewing below the surface. Ouch… I could taste the blood. “I have been allowed out on my own for quite some time now, providing I contact a responsible adult on the hour…..every hour.” Sarcasm won again – but he did look at me – and there was a hint – albeit a very small one – of a smile. “There is nothing else we can do for you.” he told me. Ok…. I only came in for a blood test. I got up to leave…. “Hold on, you don’t understand” he turned towards the nurse “this is why we like another person with them; they are more likely to listen.”

As it transpired, I wasn’t getting the “you’re not long for this earth” speech, but a “you’re in the lap of the gods” speech.  I was going to point out that if he was just a tad clearer, there wouldn’t be any need for a minder; I managed to resist the urge as I was still wondering what the hell he was on about.

Over the years I have made many visits to hospitals and GP surgeries and I assumed that the issues with listening lay firmly with me, as sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we as mere humans hear only what we want to hear. We easily accept  what the Doctor tells us is the be-all-and-end-all, never even thinking that they may in fact be wrong. They too are human and therefore not infallible. For goodness sake, I listen to people on a daily basis, and have sat through what seems like incessant courses on the subject. (The hardest part of those courses, was to actually listen and preferably stay awake) But I still kept quiet, even though I knew they were wrong.

The change came when after a dodgy episode, the Consultant told me off for not being on the correct tablets. Now I am aware of self-diagnosis but not of self-prescribing. An almighty row ensued, which I could have easily bled to death as I went into a strop, removed the drip from my hand and blood was pulsating out of a gaping hole, but my spontaneous witless act meant the argument was short-lived, replaced by the ruckus of trying to cap the well. From then on I was refered to by the consultant on his rounds, as “Ah, the lady with the episode.” Well at least he called me a lady. I did manage to have a few chats with him as I had been put in a side ward in case “I went off on one” again: my cannula was set in concrete.

So from that day I have made sure that I listen intently, ask questions, check on my understanding and on rare occasions even dare to make suggestions.

I will not just be a number: I am a person. No two of us are alike and what works for one, may not work for another. Don’t accept, follow your instinct and keep on until you get an answer; admittedly it may not be the answer you want or like, but eventually it should be the correct one.


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