nervous system

“Speaks English well,” I read my doctor’s notes from his PC screen when he popped out of the office to arrange my blood tests.  I felt mildly buoyed by this, then wondered why that was medically relevant.  If it would become relevant if I suddenly didn’t speak English very well.  If my speaking skills deteriorated, or perhaps if I suddenly lapsed into Arabic.  Everything else reflected what I had reported over the last ten days or so: the head symptoms, the fluctuating but generally unremitting pressure.

The doctor was amiably open in his cluelessness and, after a couple more questions and basic neurological tests, set up the blood test.

While more than one have said I should be less relaxed and more assertive about how I’m treated by healthcare professionals – and they could be right; I still didn’t feel the need to be excessively forthright or abrupt.  He was filling out the forms and doing everything he could.  I asked for tests and he was giving them to me.  Neither of us knew what was going on up there.

Results by Friday.  Something new to worry about.

My name was called over the speaker system for the second time that morning and I found my way between a mix of patient legs and resentful eyelines (HIM, again?  He’s only just come out) to a different examination room.

I’m always surprised to meet people whose outlook appears to be one of default good cheer, apparently pure and untarnished by the faintest cynicism.

“Hello!” I can’t properly convey in any description how much jolly cheer she inserted in that one word.  Suffice to say it was lots.

“You’re perky today,” I observed of the nurse after she beamed at me.  She could have been a Radio 1 DJ.

“Ah, you’ve got to be, haven’t you?” she said, unwrapping a small pack of needles and blood receptacles.

“Have you?  Yes, I suppose.”  Maybe you did if you spent the day vacuuming blood, and with it the first signals of potentially fatal disease.  Of course she must do other things.  I stood between a bed and a seat opposite her.  “Where dyou want me?”

“Just take a seat there.”

I rolled up the sleeve of my arms.

“Ooh, you’ve got lovely big veins.”

“Do I?  That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”  What was that about?  Was I accidentally flirting?  Nerves, nerves.  Calm.

I give blood fairly regularly and needles don’t usually faze me, although I don’t tend to look that closely.  This time I quivered, flinched at the prick, looked away.  Neither of us spoke for a moment.  Nerves.


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