Another ride on the terrifying Merry-Go-Round that is the NHS

It’s been 9 months since that fateful running adventure where I fractured my foot, did extensive soft tissue damage, and basically ruined my life. Since January I’ve managed to get out of my cast, learned to walk, done a lot of physical therapy, gradually built up hours of yoga, and swam more than 20k. I’ve been left with a slight limp (that admittedly gets more notably pronounced when approaching public transport) and a great sense of disillusionment toward the National Health Service, which you can read about here.

Life has gone back to normal for the most part, until this past month, when, after landing a yoga jump, I felt something go in the foot. I tried to walk it off but it’s been swollen and painful for two weeks now and I’m starting to get a bad feeling about it.

And so we begin more medical adventures, this week’s appointments being physical therapy at St Georges, Orthotics at Queen Mary’s Roehampton, my good old GPs office, and X-rays at St Georges.

Below is a photo of the lovely floral gardens at St Georges.

St Georges Flowers

PHYSICAL THERAPIST: “yes it looks as if you’ve damaged the ligaments again, you need to go back to your GP. No weight bearing activities, and DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RUNNING”
Great advice, as I’ve thought of nothing else since August.

Om my arrival at Queen Mary’s, Roehampton, I overheard this brilliant exchange and finally felt as if I’d found my soul mate of NHS hospitals:

Nurse: How did you get on?
Patient: The pain is really bad but they aren’t sure what’s wrong. They think it might be-
Nurse: -fake?

This was followed by a meeting with my new favourite doctor:

DR: “So according to your file, you broke your foot, went to St. Georges who x-rayed it, then got referred to Kings who did the MRI but then rejected your referral twice for orthotics care because you lived too far away, so you then got referred to here?”
ME: “yeah, and you cancelled my appointment once also. I’ve been waiting since Dec for this appointment”
DR: “Right, well all that information is in your file. Unfortunately what’s not in your file is any information about your foot. No x-rays, no MRI scans, in fact it doesn’t even say what foot it is!!”

DR: “without any of that information there’s nothing I can do for you.”
ME: “I’ve been waiting 5 months for this appointment”
DR: “I know, and I’m sorry.”

DR: “You know, woman in their late twenties are incredibly susceptible to fractures in that area of the foot. It looks like you have fractured it again. Have you been to your GP yet?”
ME: “No, he doesn’t like me either”
DR: “Right you need to go back there and demand a new x-ray, and the MRI results. And don’t take no for an answer, because they will say no”
ME: “that’s not a problem, I can cry on command”
DR: “yeah don’t cry, that’s… Doctors don’t really…. Dont cry. Just be determined. Let’s practise what you’ll say…”

At this point a nurse poked her head in the door to tell him another doctor was stuck in traffic

DR: “terrible traffic this morning, I decided to run to work this morning! Glad I did, it was a great run, 8k, really felt good….*looks at me*…. Oh, sorry about that…”

Then back to my normal doctor…

DR: “no, no x-ray”
ME: “and why not?”
DR: “we’re just worried about putting too much radiation into that little foot of yours”
ME: “which is ironic, cause I’m worried you haven’t put enough radiation into it”

DR: “let me just have a look through your file. Hmm. So we never received your x-ray results or your MRI results. That’s surprising”
ME: “actually, it’s not.”
DR: “so you went to St George’s, Kings, St Georges again, Kings, then St George’s again, then Roehampton. That’s a lot of different hospitals!”

ME: “especially when you can’t walk!”

DR: “After reading this, it doesn’t appear that you’ve received a very good standard of care. I’ll write the x-ray referral”

St Georges, for the x-ray dept….

“Can you just wait here?”

In the medical waste equivalent of the elephant graveyard in the lion king? Sure, I’ll just step around the oxygen tank on the floor. Comfy!

And thus concludes another chapter of my experiences with the NHS. Just to be clear, I’ve had some very good experiences with them as well, which you can read about here.

I also fully respect that I have the choice to pay for private healthcare if I want to receive a higher standard of care, but I choose the “free” healthcare instead. I very much believe in contributing to this service through my income, as I do believe as a society we are responsible for making sure people have the option of medical care regardless of their financial situation. And when I had a tumour, the standard of care I received was outstanding and I didn’t have to pay a penny for it.

Although having said that, if one more person asks me how long I’ve been in the UK before agreeing to provide me treatment, I might just actually scream.

I can either sit here and be sad that I’ve got a swollen foot that my doctors give approximately zero fucks about, or have a good giggle. And thus, I leave you with the parting words of my radiologist this morning:

“Good news! No fracture, so it looks like its ligament damage!! Bye now!”

And with that, and no crutches, I slowly limped off back to my life.

Ol Faithful

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