Friday, 5 October 2012

The Big C..

This blog was meant to be written in chronological order. But life has a habit of whacking your plans and ideas right out of sync. So back to real time.

I was at work yesterday- and I had a missed call from OD. My spider senses were a-tingle immediately. He NEVER calls me at work. There was a cryptic message on my voice mail..."...any chance you could give me a ring when you pick up this message, I just need to have a quick chat about something".

There was a little bit of awkward preamble- but I knew something was up. And then it came out in a bit of a rush."...met my surgeon today....been having altered bowel habit for a while....he wants to perform a colonoscopy tomorrow.....didn't want to worry you....."

The problem with medical school is that it gives you a very warped view of the world. That's what happens when you surround yourself with sick people. I KNOW that altered bowel habit does not mean bowel cancer. There are loads of other things it could be. OD's been stressed at work. The kids have been having teenage dramas..things with us have been rocky. It could be irritable bowel syndrome. Simple, bog-standard ( pun intended) IBS. His diet isn't great- it could be diverticular disease. Both benign. Very treatable.

But both he and I were thinking of the big C.

He's been sensible. He listened to the health promotion advice on Classic FM. He's lucky. Once he'd had the chat with the friendly surgeon, the definitive investigation was organized for less that 24 hours. He's obviously been concerned about this for a while, but didn't want to tell me. I have a tendency to fret.  In about four hours, we'll know what we're dealing with. But the last 24 hours have been dreadful.

And while I wallow in my own anxieties- I can't help thinking about all the other patients who don't have access to a friendly surgeon. Who have to wait for a tertiary referral. Who have to wait for imaging. Who have to wait for results. And it makes me mad- that even when we have results in front of us, we ( the NHS) are so inefficient at informing patients about their results. It makes me even more annoyed when I think of the results that get lost on someone's desk under a pile of paperwork. We sometimes forget that the result that needs to be "actioned" amongst the million other things that we need to do, is the result that someone is spending their every waking moment thinking about.

The next time I do a test on someone, I'll think twice before being blase and saying, " It'll take a couple of weeks..". Because a couple of weeks can be a very long time.

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