Posts Tagged ‘hay fever’

I’ve just had another run in at our doctor’s surgery. You might remember that back in May I was unfortunate enough to have to visit the doctor to get something for a cough.  I know I’m an impatient patient – I wrote about it – but honestly, this latest brush takes the proverbial biscuit.

Let me back track slightly. Several months ago, we received in the post three brown envelopes, addressed to each one of us. The envelopes had CONFIDENTIAL: ADDRESSEE ONLY stamped across them. Inside were two sheets of A4 paper onto which was printed a lengthy notification from our healthcare authority that after a certain date in the not too distant future, we would no longer be able to collect our medicine from the dispensary at our local surgery. It went on to explain that because we lived within a mile of another local pharmacy, we would not be allowed to collect meds from the surgery – it would be expected that we would use the pharmacy instead. However, before we could use said pharmacy, we would have to collect a signed prescription from the surgery for any medications needed.

Because three of us received the same notification (hardly confidential, in my view), that seems like an awful lot of wasted time and effort not to mention paper by our continually cost cutting National Health Service. What’s wrong with a leaflet stuffed through the door? I was outraged. I sent an email to our local MP, the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt who at the time was Secretary of State for Health and whose election flyer had co-incidentally hit the mat at the same time as these missives from the NHS. I waited weeks for a reply, which to be fair, I received (albeit from a likely internee), thanking me for the points I had raised and that wastage was always a cause for concern. I still didn’t vote for him.

So there we are – progress – we now have to visit two establishments to eventually acquire our medicines. After the last debacle with my unwanted antibiotics, I’ve made up my mind that unless I’m at death’s door I won’t be troubling the doctor again but our son suffers from seasonal hay fever, for which a prescribed treatment is required. 9iz7Gg9iE[1]The over the counter stuff doesn’t come close, neither do any of the natural or herbal remedies – he’s tried them all. So for six months of the year he’s on high dose anti-histamine. Which is fine – it works.

Getting it is now the problem: we have reached that date in the not too distant future.

Anyway, back to the latest brush …

The surgery is of course, only open during working hours – when guess what – most people – including Son – are working or commuting home. Because I have endless time at the moment, I offered to collect his paper script and take it to be processed elsewhere. I won’t use our local pharmacy because it is frankly grimy and twice I have returned over the counter meds for being out of date, only realising this infuriation when on close inspection at home, with the aid of my reading specs, I made this unfortunate (for the pharmacy) discovery.

Off I go, first thing, round to the surgery where I have to fill in a form requesting a repeat prescription. I’m then told that it will take two days to process. TWO DAYS! All they’ve got to do is print the damn thing off and get it signed by one of the four or five doctors who work there. I fix the pharmacist with my best steely glare and tell her that I need the meds today, that Son has run out and that I will wait. I notice that on the shelf beyond the pharmacist’s left shoulder, tantalisingly out of reach, is a large package containing the anti-histamines we need. But I know I can’t have those; I remember that extensive letter.

She tells me the best she can do is to have the script ready for me after five that afternoon and turns slowly to attend to wiping a ring of coffee cup from the Formica. I spin on my heels and march swiftly out of there before an expletive escapes my lips.

Five o’clock arrives and I gaily return to the surgery, all thoughts of the morning forgotten as I’m not one to hold a grudge. The waiting room is full of the sick and ailing so I wade through them to the dispensary desk and ask for my script. With a smile.

Can you guess the next bit? Tell me you can’t. Well, ok then, you’re right.

The script isn’t ready. It’s joined a pile of others to be signed. I suppose I should be thankful that at least it’s been printed off. I see a different person. She takes my script to get it signed. I’m still waiting twenty minutes later, sitting with the sick and ailing.  I’ve had enough. I leave and tear my hair out on the way home.

Having spent considerable time over the last few years accompanying my mother to routine hospital appointments I have come to the conclusion that a pre-requisite for working in the healthcare profession is to lack a sense of urgency or any kind of people skills whatsoever.

Just how difficult is it for someone to say “good morning” or “won’t keep you long” or even, “sorry, we’re running a bit late with appointments today, we’ll be with you as soon as we can.”

Apparently, very. They meander past, eyes averted, carrying clipboards, chatting amongst themselves, ignoring the rash of anxious patients lined up in their waiting rooms. Hospital dramas on TV are nothing like the real thing. No-one really rushes anywhere, or seems at all concerned for their patients welfare like they are on the telly – caring is a thing of the past. Two of my current colleagues at school are ex-nurses, who left the profession because of just that. They signed up and trained to care back in the day, but they saw the way things in the health service were going and got out when they could.  The employees at our surgery certainly aren’t letting the professional side down from the current institutionalised attitude-to-the-poorly perspective.

I eventually got my hands on the script and the meds this morning – but not without a battle and not without being told that there is now no such thing as a repeat prescription.

Ready for round two? I will be.


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There is one sound that evokes for me quintessential mid-summer in England; echoes of long hot days, the smell of mown grass; the sipping through straws of long cool drinks. It takes me back to childhood memories of eating salad for a fortnight. The sound is, if you haven’t guessed already, the BBC’s theme tune that heralds the start of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.

We would arrive home from school to find Mum watching events unfold in SW19 on our black and white TV: an avid tennis fan, she would watch until well into the evening until Dad arrived home, often with strawberries from the local farm. We’d eat these after various cold cuts, served with vanilla ice-cream, cut from a slab encased in cardboard which had been transported home from the village store wrapped in newspaper.

Mum had a soft spot for Ken Rosewall, who always carried a large white hanky on court because he had terrible hay fever and as a fellow sufferer, she was sympathetic.

Ken Rosewall

Ken Rosewall

Sadly, he never won on the grass at Wimbledon. Other players of the day were Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Margaret Court and Billie Jean King. I never remember rain stopping play in those days: summer was summer then. I didn’t really become interested in tennis until the mid seventies. For one thing, we had colour television by then, and for another, in the shallow eyes of a teenage girl, the players started to look more interesting.  I joined Mum on the sofa with salads on our laps and she patiently explained the finer points of the game. I was hooked.

A new guard was emerging – less gentlemen, more brat pack – just what was needed to shift the game’s profile into the next generation. I’m talking  Jimmy Connors – he of the awful haircut and on-court grunting (was he the first, I wonder?); Bjorn Borg, who played the game like metronomic Swedish Pac-Man, getting everything back, 15-0; back and forward, 30-0; along the baseline, 40-0; in his striped shirt; game Mr Bor….zzzz.  However, I’ll forgive him that because he was good-looking and did have impeccable manners.

My favourite player (of all time, actually), is of course, Johnny Mac.

Johnny Mac

Johnny Mac

The enfant terrible and complete antithesis to Borg, with his red hair band, his left-handed shots and wooden racket, not to mention his out-bursts of frustration, all served to make him the most watchable player on the tour as far as I was concerned, especially as Mum wasn’t in the least bit enamoured. Such raw passion and a determination to win was regarded as rather less than genteel on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club. A bit of a shake-up was what was needed at the time, and a bit of a shake-up is what Johnny Mac provided. Tennis had been perceived as the sport of the elite until this era of new players arrived, and they gave inspiration to kids thrashing about on hard public courts up and down the country.

John McEnroe is now a popular member of the BBC’s Wimbledon commentary team. He is amusing, still sometimes controversial and committed to the game, having been a major player in his country’s Davis Cup team. He’s part of the establishment. Mum likes him now. Game, set and match, McEnroe.

Wimbledon is but a couple of weeks away now.  Summer will finally arrive. I’ll be putting the TV on as early as I can – not to watch wall to wall tennis, necessarily, but the reassuring thwack, thwack of balls across the net is a signal to get out lashings of ginger beer,  served with ice cream floats and force the family to eat salad for a fortnight. Tradition – it’s what Wimbledon is all about.


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