Dr Heart-Less

Annie’s on the phone when I come in from work. I can tell by her demeanour and her answers (interesting things, one-sided conversations) that she’s speaking to someone at the hospital. I loiter about trying to eavesdrop, fiddling with my coat and bag and eventually deduce that she’s talking to the cardio consultant. She catches my eye and holds up 3 fingers then points to her heart. You have 3 hearts? She jabs her chest even harder. You have 3 breasts? She tries a couple more times – I still don’t get it and so she gives up and turns back to the phone.

Things start to get a bit heated – I don’t hear what raises the temperature but I hear the responses; “it’s important to him” and “don’t you think it’s important after all he’s been through?” She finishes with “I’ll leave you to write the referral letter then”. And that’s it.

It appears that the phone call got of to a bad start; “remind me again when I saw him”. 18th February. Then nose-dived, the Earth’s gravitational pull simply too much for mere words; “And what did I tell him?” That he had Atrial Flutter and you could cure it with a catheter ablation and you would write to the JR in Oxford requesting an urgent procedure. You also said you would talk to Mr ENT and discuss the implications of the voice operation and Warfarin. “Are you sure I saw him?”

It’s only when she comes off the phone that she’s angry and upset. It turns out that he’s forgotten to write the referral letter to the JR for the urgent catheter ablation. Not only that – there’s now a 3-month waiting list. All the more frustrating because I’ve been offered the second voice op in early April. This was the information that Annie was trying to convey with her mime. Maybe we should play Charades more often.

She fills in the gaps. When she mentions the voice procedure he dismisses it telling her it’s not important. She explains it’s important to me. “It’s not clinically important. He’s not going to die if he doesn’t have it done is he?” I imagine him making a ‘so there’ face at this. I wonder if he can imagine my ‘up yours’ face? Anyway – how does he know? My frustration and disappointment could be boiling over and I could be standing on a chair, noose around my neck just waiting for that final tipping point. It’s not long in coming – and breathtaking in its cruelty; “I wouldn’t hold out much hope for it being successful.”

We get through it of course – hugs, cups of tea and a general slagging-off of the medical profession. Perhaps we’re just too sensitive. Annie tells me he asked if I had health insurance (I don’t). She reassures me that if I want it done privately I can. I make a tentative enquiry although I don’t really feel comfortable about queue jumping. It’s around £10,000-£12,000. That’s a relief then – principles still intact. There’s nothing to beat the warm glow of telling yourself you can’t really afford something you don’t really want.

I resign myself to the wait – 3 more months of Warfarin before the ablation and then another 2 months afterwards. So it’s going to be around September before Mr ENT can have another go. Unless of course Dr H-L gets to him first and tells him not to bother.

No pantomime is complete without heroes. It’s usually the support staff who save, or even make, the day. Two phone calls – one from Dr H-L’s secretary telling me that the referral letter has now been done and the other from the very nice admissions lady who has been trying to sort out the voice procedure. She tells me that Mr ENT and Dr H-L have now spoken and they’ve agreed that Mr ENT will postpone the procedure until he gets the all clear from Dr H-L and then she’ll be in touch again; “I didn’t want you to think that we’d forgotten you”. Thank you.

Reasons to be cheerful Number …. Oh I don’t know, I’ve lost count
We’ve just come back from four days in Northumberland. We attended a photography workshop on day 1 and then spent the rest of the time just wandering around the castles and along the beaches of this fair land, taking the odd (and sometimes very odd) photo. Northumberland is a magical place – highly recommended for anyone who doesn’t know it.

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
Embleton Beach, Northumberland



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1 Response to Dr Heart-Less

  1. Frank says:

    I’ve made the move to wordpress. There is no escape!

    How telling is the consultant questioning you’ve ever been near them before rather than accept they’ve made a mistake. Reminds me of that joke, ‘What’s the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.’

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