Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Terminal Tavern: It's not unlike a public house without the bar and the dart board, with people sitting around waiting for their name to be called, all living within less than a half-mile of one another but ignoring everyone else even though they have their locality in common. Despite its sound and vision being centred upon giving medical advice, the wall-mounted TV crushes any proposed conversation, anyway, as it does in any circumstance, turning even the most talkative person mute and ignorant. Everyone is there for a purpose, as their chemistry has gone awry and they need it fixed. On occasion, someone new will walk in, and knowing another patient, a conversation will spark up. Pretending to be disinterested, all ears now filter out the TV and listen in to the soap opera of someone elses' life unfolding before them like a chapter from a book they wouldn't have otherwise considered reading.
The funny thing is, you will notice, we are in our doctor's surgery waiting room, and this person who enters and sits down with this friend they haven't seen for ages, always starts the conversation with "Hello, how are you?"
"Well, ill, obviously, or I would't be sitting here, would I?"
But nevertheless, everyone else earholes in on what's being said, whether it's about an ailment or, more interestingly, a bit of local scandal. We thrive on scandal, don't we, that's why we like the soap operas, because we can live through someone elses scandal without any of the repurcussions.
But unfortunately, our doctor's treat us like our cars between MOT's, and if we're there to get our distributor cap replaced, he will replace it; but they never seem to check anything else unless we specifically ask them to.
There has been talk of an annual MOT for everyone, but in truth, the way the NHS is always 'stretched to the limits,' then it's a nice thought, but not even visible on the immediate horizon.
What a pity.
If it had been, they would have found out about my defective heart valve long before they actually did so. And it's not as if this is a problem because I didn't collapse in a heap and have the ambulance doing a 'red-and-blue' to rush me in; I went of my own accord.
But if they'd had this MOT in 1981 and before, my Mum wouldn't have had three of her heart valves go at the same time, from which she died a week later at the fairly young age of 60, the fault would have been found long before. And it wouldn't have taken feeling under-the-weather for 5 months after an essential Yellow Fever jab taken for a trip to Kenya for them to find out I had inherited, thankfully, only one of her dodgy hearty valves, and then had go through the rigermarole of getting a mechnical replacement, with a Pacemaker as the star prize in the Ward raffle.
As I said in a Blog a few years ago now, do as the Chinese do, and keep an eye on the health of your tongue, as it is an excellent indicator of how your heart is doing. A year or so before my op, and quite by accident as I was having accapuncture for sciattica, as a matter of course the Chinese doctor's give a health check. And when she saw my tongue, Doctor Xin's eyes bulged and her mouth dropped open and she gasped: "Oh my goodness, it's purple!"
And indeed it was.
But her ethics may not have permitted her to say "That's not right, go and see your doctor as soon as possible."
So I didn't, despite the fact that every night when my head hit the pillow, I could hear my heart pumping away, and it sounded as if the wheels had fallen off.
So the moral of the story is, if there has been a heart problem in your family, get everyone checked over. Never keen on going to see the doctor, I was a reluctant patient, and I should, after hearing my irregular heart beat night after night, gone to see him much earlier. And it was only by sheer circumstance that I did so, yet if I had ignored it, I would have booked in to The Terminal Tavern for quite a long stay.