Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Being an impatient patient

We do not like going to Southampton General Hospital. First there is the mammoth task of finding a parking place, then we walk past people in dressing gowns looking like zombies, having a gasper outside the hospital entrance. Today we arrived promptly at the reception desk for our 11.30 a.m. appointment with the radiology consultant.

The waiting room has been redesigned with colourful seats and nearly enough room to pass someone without hitting one’s legs on the coffee tables. At midday one woman was called to see the consultant and we found that she had waited one and a half hours. How can you get one and a half hours behind schedule if you have started at 9.00 a.m?

I asked at the reception desk how far behind they were as there had been no communication, and whether we could go for some lunch if they were really one and a half hours behind. The receptionist said they were only an hour behind time but she would find a nurse.

Miraculously, we were told we were next to be called and I was duly measured and weighed but this was a false dawn. We were deposited in the doctor’s room and told he would be there soon. I think we were shunted into the naughty patients area so we couldn’t corrupt the patient patients. So after another three quarters of an hour I asked where the doctor was because otherwise we would like to go for some lunch. Then he arrived.

On a personal basis Dr B is a pleasant man and very knowledgeable but the department is run in a totally haphazard way. Why use nurses as clerks? Why did they walk up and down so much? Has no one analysed the tasks they are doing and whether the layout and location of files, materials, patients are in the right place?

The upshot is I shall have less intense radiotherapy than before. Although I was horrified at the histology report about my throat which indicated very rapid growth of lymphoma, even I can see that it is not growing at the rate of 70%. Both Dr M and the radiology consultant have explained that growth of cells in a laboratory is often different from those actually in a patient. Although I want to get rid of the growth I know I am not in immediate danger from it and if two cycles of radiotherapy will be enough so that my other glands are not permanently damaged, then I shall welcome that.

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