Why do I let it happen to me? I'm generally an assertive person with sufficient self-confidence to speak to hundreds of people from platforms and (occasionally) to say 'no' to ministers (politely) but put me in a hospital and I'm cannon-fodder.
I went to see the back doctor today only to find he wasn't there or had got a new job. After waiting for 45 minutes after my appointment time I'm called in to the consulting room by a student doctor who kept yawning because she'd done so much revision over the weekend who proceeds to ask a lot of questions which I duly answer. What was the problem? why was I there? did I have problems with my waterworks? did anything hurt? what's a 'microdiscectomy'? was I alergic to anything? etc etc. I duly answered.
Then the consultant appears to tell me that they've lost all my records and he has no idea why I'm there. There's a mix-up and I should be in another clinic. Um, no there's not actually, I'm in the right place and your name (Mr Consultant) is on everything. Why am I made to feel like I'm an interloper, that I have no right to be there, that I'm a mistake, that I'm wasting their time? And why do I allow it? The fact that "they" lost my records doesn't invalidate my being there at all - I'm there because the previous doctor wanted a check-up after 3 months. This makes me so angry - not so much at them (although the arrogance and superiority is appalling) but at me.
So, it ends up with me taking my trousers off in front of his student (who is young enough to be my daughter), he checks my reflexes for all of 1 minute and then sends me off to get an appointment for an MRI scan to look inside my body and check my discs (I might 'need another operation', 'another disc might have slipped', oh so positive) after which I need see the consultant again. I offer to hunt out the old letters from the hospital so he can see what's been said previously. I don't say, what's the point in a scan when I'd feel it if the disc has slipped again. I think 'fuck this', I don't ask any questions, I don't offer any information.
There's nothing there to actually complain about (other than losing my file). It just annoys and angers me. I ought to be able to speak up but for some reason I can't. How must this be for many other people who might be bullied into treatment (or out of treatment) for various reasons when I, who I like to think am reasonably articulate, can't talk to the Great God Doctor. I feel so inadequate. Is that what they want, to make themselves feel so good?
This is obviosuly a failing in me that I need to put right. I couldn't challenge doctors and lazy nurses when my mother died in hospital although my brother could (he works in pharmaceuticals and is used to how hospitals operate). I've seen so many doctors and other medical 'professionals' in the last 8 months - in my GP surgery, in two different hospitals and in two different medical centres - but I don't seem to be able to talk to them. I rate none of them other than Aruna, the dietician, who actually seemed to listen to me and offer constructive suggestions. The patient does not come first, their own convenience comes first.
I'd love them to prove me wrong.