I've been waiting for that letter to arrive on the door step; the one that tells me that my close relationship with the NHS is not in my imagination, did not happen to someone else and is still potentially current. It doesn't get me down but I know in the back of my mind I'm waiting for it everytime Bill calls. Bill is our wonderful postman. The postman who should have an honour because he's been a rock for this community for around 40 years of service, delivering newspapers, checking on pensioners and numerous other kindness too many to catalogue here.
I've had a sudden and unexpected change of schedule today. This means that I can do jobs which have been stacking up. So I chased up the appointment, preferring to know the date than simply waiting like a victim for a letter to arrive. My first choice of contact was the Advanced Nurse Practitioners - two of them who now work a job-share. The answerphone told me one was off sick, the other works only two days, so I bit the bullet and phoned the chest physician's secretary. Was it up to me to trigger a meeting or theirs?
Theirs. Yes, the appointments system should have spewed out an appointment. It hadn't and there was a long backlog. I hadn't "dropped of the system" as I suggested may have been the case. I'd just disappeared into the backlog presumably. I'm not ill so I don't actually need to see the team but it was their choice of a six month follow up, not mine.
Clearly the appointments system is pants even given that they have an enormous backlog. Backlog - that's worrying if you're a cancer patient. Now I feel guilty even having been given a date because I'll just be wasting their time albeit I might just lift their spirits by my wellbeing and presence.
Middle of November is the date so now I can relax when I see Bill. It is silly isn't it. Having faced a death sentence and coped with that, I've let just a tiny thing like a pending appointment get to me, not in a big way but as a small niggle.
And while we're talking about niggles I've had to visit the hospital on another matter over the last couple of days on more than one occasion. On two of those I found myself locked in a car park in the early evening with the ticket machine not working and no-one on the end of the misnamed "help" button. I willingly pay the parking fee; I'm actually glad to be able to do so because I'm giving back to the system just a tiny proportion of the tens of thousands of pounds it's invested in me. I'd be prepared to pay double and the fees at our hospital are pretty stiff already. What I'm not prepared to do is wait around in the encroaching darkness in a state of near panic two nights running, without vociferous complaint the next day to the appropriate department. So they have heard from me in no uncertain terms.
It's these tiny irritants - appointments not generated and car park tickets machines not working - that wear down patients and if only the NHS could manage those elements better, we'd all be so much happier and therefore probably much healthier. They're not rocket science after all.