Do I have to take all these tablets doc?


Just before lockdown, I visited the gp. A nearly empty waiting room and no queue at reception. I entered myself into a wall-mounted machine and sat. A TV on silent, adverts for helpful services, announcements crossing a display. A bald dapper guy in a waistcoat and open-necked shirt popped in intermittently, inviting one of the sitters to join him. A trickle of people came and went. There was hush, apart from the telephone, because no one was there. And this a busy village surgery. So different to my childhood experiences of an urban fifties practice. A single doctor working out of his front room. A full-to-bursting waiting room where, like a barber, everyone knows their place in the queue. A beep from the ether announcing invitations to join him. It was nearly always a him.
  My visit was intended as a routine event to review medication. For those who are interested, I take stuff for gout and viral keratitis (herpes in my optic nerve). Also one for blood pressure and one for cholesterol which I have now stopped as it was making me ill (anyway an Irish study suggested no benefit if you haven't yet had a stroke or a cardiac event - and no jokes about the Irish please). Finally one to counteract any stomach side effects and a vitamin pill for macular degeneration.
  Phew - whilst I was there I mentioned my shoulder pain which he thought was 'impingement' and recommended an ultrasound to which I replied 'what will that tell you that will change anything?' So he put me on the waiting list for a joint injection.
  Finally finally I told him about my unsteadiness and vertigo, particularly turning over in bed and during pilates. He nodded as I suggested a middle ear benign condition of older people. No suggestions for treatment though. Could he also take my blood pressure? Yes he could and it was elevated. What next? Medication was mentioned, but the look on my face must have put him off. So I'm measuring it at home again.
  Finally finally finally, I couldn't help notice a scruffy medical student frantically writing stuff down in a notebook. I'd signed the appropriate consent form in the waiting room. 'What have you learned today?' I asked. To which he replied in a mangled accent 'I'm not good at remembering stuff', which is a distinct disadvantage as a student. 
  I think the gp was somewhat battered and confused by all these exchanges. He's a good lad. And a snappy dresser. My last visit had been more of a battle, a lady who doesn't take no for an answer. Hence taking a cholesterol-buster which I didn't want, just because of my age and some probability I might have a stroke in the next 10 years. She is well aware of my grumpiness as I am of her spikiness. It's mutual admiration.
  My blood pressure varies from highish to I should be fainting right now. Because I'm recording the results, next to the jumble of numbers is an ordered list, so I do know the date and day of the week. I have not had my joint injection. I'm not taking pain-killers thankfully. The vertigo is gradually settling though I need to be careful bending my neck backwards, needed when the childbride puts in my eyedrops. Eyesight is good - one thing is at least.
  So there it is, a geriatric masterclass.

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