I had my regular check up at the Diabetic clinic this week. It is always a time of mixed emotions, no matter how well controlled my emotions can be there is always a level of anxiety in the run up to the check up.
Even when my diabetes was perfectly controlled*, I would still need to make quite an effort to ensure I was calm and relaxed whilst waiting to see the specialist.
This is predominantly down to the completely emotionless manner in which medical professionals handle us as patients. Don’t get me wrong, I respect what these people do but they have to deal with hundreds of patients a week, many of which (I imagine) have bad news rather than good – these people can’t afford to let emotion creep into their working life.
I wouldn’t say that this emotional detachment scares me, it is more that I know the specialist could just as easily declare me riddled with cancer, as declare me fit and well (for an insulin dependent Diabetic).
For me, a trip to the Diabetic Specialist is like a trip to see Hannibal Lector. I feel like a young (male) Clarice Starling brought by necessity to an appointment with a cad carrying psychopath. Except in my case the sociopathic doctor could kill me with words**, rather than slice slivers from a work colleague’s brain and serve them up as Hors d’Ouevre.
This recent trip was somewhat harder than previous visits. I don’t want to become maudlin and go into the reasons why, they’re transient and will soon pass. The point is, this week’s hospital visit was not as eagerly anticipated as previous ones.
My battle against anxiety was not helped by the change in procedures that Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s diabetic clinic had recently implemented. This should not have been a surprise, the process changes slightly every time. This was a big change however.
The usual process is a permutation of:
- Turn Up
- Check In
- Apologise for lack of urine sample/provide pre-prepared sample/provide fresh sample
- Get Weighed
- Have blood test
- Wait 20 minutes to an hour to see the Specialist.
This time was different insofar as, I checked in and then had to wait 20 minutes or so to be weighed, hand over urine etc.
This meant that I had more time to dwell on all the possible outcomes of the visit. Like a diabetic kwisatz haderach, I sit there mapping out all my potential futures.
And then the nurses call me in and we get to the crux of this post.
I was called into a consulting room, where four nurses were ready to pass me through the new process.
Firstly, I was reprimanded for not bringing a sample and invited to provide a fresh one after processing.
Next I am sat on weighing scales whilst my blood pressure is taken.
As I am being seated, the nurse who is logging all this and in a colloquial mix of West Indian and Yorkshire (that you only really get in Huddersfield***) says,
You don’t look like a Benjamin.
Then to the other nurses,
He doesn’t look like a Benjamin.
I’m left bemused by this, what should I say in response? I’ve never really considered what kind of name I look like. To me I am the epitome of Benjamin, so as the other nurses agree move onto the usual Emmerdale/Sugden references I reply:
You know, I always fancied myself an Andrew…
… not in that way of course
This last followed with my best attempt at a cheeky grin – instantly regretting the fact that they must now think I’m some kind of gay-bashing homophobe.
The nurse is laughing anyway, and refered to me as Andrew whenever I saw her that day, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
The point is, I could have really put any name there, and almost did! Peter, Graham, Benedict all of which could have been put forward, because the truth of the matter is that I don’t know what particular name I look like, if I don’t look like a Benjamin.
Anyway, with that thought provoked for the day, I was rushed off to provide a sample and then sent onto the next step of the process. The question of what I should be called or what name I look like was sufficient a distraction that I managed to coast through the rest of the appointment anxiety free.
I suppose nurses are the counterbalance to specialist consultants in that they have to show (and share) emotion; nurses deal with patients for far longer than doctors, they are often the ones who deal with the aftermath of a negative consultation.
So hopefully, this lady will be there when I return for my next check-up in six months time.
* All diabetics go through a “Honeymoon” period, during which their control is perfect; eventually the body becomes accustomed to/polluted by the manufactured insulin and other medicines, and leaves you to manage your blood sugar levels on your own. For the past year or so, I’ve been on a spiraling decline with regards my HbA1c readings.
What were once 6.3 to 6.7 had got up to 11.3 and climbing. My specialist showed me the chart this week; he seemed alarmed as my readings have dropped back to the 7.6 mark.
I’ve put this down to my decision to completely ignore the faff and kerfuffle at the Hospital. My specialist can’t even decide on what type of Diabetes I have, let alone the correct treatment for me. Anyway, more on that another time.
** I believe quite strongly in the power of the mind to overcome biological and medical hardship. I strongly believe that a lot of people who die from terminal diseases sooner rather than later, because they are told that they will. They’re given a fixed period of time and then shuffle off; I believe some of them (the more negatively focused ones) could go on for much longer if they were unaware of their life expectancy or even their disease.
*** My Father once told me about a wonderful lady he worked with at a local asylum in the seventies; in this same, jolly, colloquial accent she would remark,
I got ‘im by dem stones David!
As she grabbed someone between their legs and lifted them from the ground.