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Thursday, 12 August 2010

It Started With A Snore - Part 1

In a previous post (I Was A Stranger And Ye Took Me In) I mentioned that I had been consigned to a bedroom on my own, on a different floor, by my mates whilst on a 'walking weekend' because of my snoring. I promised then that I would explain more, and here it is. This series of articles first appeared in Mature Times and were intended to be something of a diary of events. Now read on...
I seem to have been seeing quite a bit of the medical profession recently. Or, I suppose more accurately, the medical profession have been seeing quite a bit of me. Now, before you get too concerned (as if) I should say, at this juncture, that I am not, to the best of my knowledge and belief, ill (excuse me whilst I grab a large lump of wood to ward off any gestures of supreme irony by a malevolent Fate). I have, however, been checked to within an inch of my life. Let me explain.
It started with a snore. In fact, it may well end with a snore, but we’ll come to that later. For years my poor wife has endeavoured, with a great deal of fortitude, to sleep with my nocturnal ‘noises off’ bellowing in her ears. I, of course, have slept on soundly, safe in the knowledge (from previous expensive experience) that no amount of strips applied to the nose, herbal gargles or specially contoured pillows make any difference (when I referred to a malevolent Fate earlier, I think that the fact that light sleepers are invariably attracted to those with stentorian snores is a pretty good indicator of the existence of this particular force). Anyway, all this changed as soon as it became apparent that I had started to stop breathing (or stopped starting to breathe…if you see what I mean?) Hurling yourself awake in the wee small hours, seized with the absolute certainty that you’re about to snuff it, tends to put a crimp in your otherwise peaceful slumbers, and this was only on the occasions when I knew that I had stopped breathing. The upshot of all this was a trip to the Doctor’s to see about a consultation with a specialist. This was about two years ago.
Have you tried making an appointment to see your friendly, local GP recently? I only ask because I am now aware that there is a technique to this. Being ill isn’t sufficient to warrant an early appointment. The novice will ring the Surgery hopefully, perhaps mid-morning, with the expectation of getting an appointment in the next 24 hours. No chance! If you’re lucky, you might get the promise of a slot a week on Thursday. If you want to see a Doctor on the same day of telephoning, then you will need to join a determined band who will commence ringing the Surgery at precisely 8.00 a.m. in an effort to grab one of the few, jealously guarded, ‘emergency appointments’ that are held for that day. By 8.10 a.m. these will have been snapped up for the day and everyone else, regardless of condition, will have to join the grim band of telephoners tomorrow. Being at death’s door might help, but is no guarantee of medical attention. Of course, you only get to know all of this if you are a habitué of the Surgery. The occasional putative patient discovers this only by bitter experience and either gets better regardless, or clogs up the Accident & Emergency service of the local hospital.
The reason that you can’t get an appointment for love or money is because the ‘chronically ill’ have got them all sewn up (to coin a phrase) for months on end. Now, please don’t think that I’m belittling the troubles of those who have a chronic illness of any nature, I am not. My beef is with a system that does not make proper allowance for the vast majority of the population who only need to access their Doctor once in a blue moon, and then discover that it would be easier to book a place on the International Space Station. I was amazed to find (when I finally gained access to the Surgery) that it was like a miniature social club, full of little groups who meet on a weekly or monthly basis as they wait for their latest test or check-up. When they finally come out from their appointment, they do so with a prescription the size of the Dead Sea Scrolls, sufficient to bring a tear of joy to Jesse Boot’s eye. In addition, they will have a list of follow-on appointments that will take ages to arrange with the Receptionist and which will keep them happily occupied until next Michaelmas.

You can find all of Philip's stories in his three compilations:  Philip Whiteland's Author Page