Wishing well

Up to St Thomas Hospital today to have my pre-op assessment – where they basically check that you are healthy enough to survive surgery. Of course I am. I’m hardly ever ill, and I’m sure that, without this blip, I would have easily reached my eighties. At this point I know I’m supposed to say something upbeat and positive, like, “I still will get to old age” and “I won’t let the cancer get the better of me,” etc. But at the moment I’m just pissed off, frankly, at this very rude interruption to normal service.

The department is shiny and new, like all the areas I’ve been in recently. The sad truth is that the sicker you are, the swisher the NHS gets. I suppose it’s because fewer people have the really horrible things, while anybody can bang their heads and end up in A & E with a bunch of drunks. So Nuclear Medicine was like a sci-fi movie, the PET Scan department was an upmarket spa. The pre-op place, today, is like a slightly dysfunctional posh deli. There’s a large branch of a coffee shop in the middle, though it stays resolutely closed. There are big screens on pillars where your name flashes up, rather like your number being announced in the deli queue. As well as your name, you’re given a zone (A, B or C) and the cubicle number you have to head for. Unfortunately, the board doesn’t ping when a new name goes up, so I sat around for five minutes or so before realising I was being summoned to my first stop.

This was blood pressure, a rather exciting ECG and some swabs for MRSA. I told the nurse I thought that was something you only got when you were admitted to the hospital, but no, apparently we bring it with us from the outside and then it spreads like wildfire. It turned out the nurse’s friend was looking for a maroon bra, just like the one I was wearing, so we had a chat about good old M&S.

Next I talked to an assessment nurse about my allergy to bee stings (‘there won’t be any in the operating theatre’ – good!) and discussed various remedies I’ve been reading about on the internet (she was sceptical).

After that, it was a quick blood test (about the fifth I’ve had in two weeks – somewhere there’s nearly enough of my blood swishing around to make my own version of Marc Quinn’s famous frozen blood head. Not that I begrudge them, of course. Take it all, if it helps) and I was released back into the world.  I wish it really had been an upmarket deli. I could have bought a few things for supper while I was there. As it was, I walked back to Waterloo in lovely sunshine and did a bit of Christmas shopping. I’ve decided to try and get all the presents done before I have the operation. Now for that, I really need you to wish me luck.

st thomas


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