The Road to Recovery: Welcome to Bizarro World
Back in the day Superman used to have an alter-ego and sometime antagonist called Bizarro. Bizarro lived on a world that was basically a weird mirror image of the DC Comics universe. (Yes, yes, I’m comic book guy off the Simpsons. But not as tubby.)
I think I’ve landed there. Because my most recent dealings with the NHS have been, well, so bizarre(o) that I’m tempted to use a phrase I promised myself I’d never use. You couldn’t make it…. No I can’t do it. But you know what I mean.
Let me explain. About a week ago a letter arrived from the NHS’s appointments service. It haughtily informed me that I hadn’t booked an appointment for an unnamed clinic and would I telephone to rectify this situation.
Now, one of the challenges of my current situation is managing the sheer number of different clinics and professionals I’m having to see to move from point A (unable to walk, move my left arm above shoulder height, feel anything other than pain below my right knee, do much of anything for myself as a result) to point B (more or less where I was before my accident, albeit with a few rough edges and a couple of lurid looking scars).
They include orthopedic surgeons at the fracture clinic at the Royal London Hospital, physios at Whipps Cross Hospital, occupational therapists, more physios from community rehab teams, nerve specialists at the Royal London and Stanmore Hospitals and so on and so on. There are also a couple of referrals to other clinics floating around somewhere in the bureaucratic ether.
As I said, I must be in Bizarro World. And apparently in Bizarro World people who lose their legs get compensated by developing enviable esp skills. I’m clearly telepathic, or at least it must say so on my medical notes.
I’m guessing that the the appointment I hadn’t made came as a result of one of those referrals finally getting from point A (my excellent GP) to point B (the clinic, which hadn’t bothered to tell me they were ready for me to call to make an appointment).
Anyway, I rang the appointment line. After a minor kerfuffle over a password I didn’t know I had been allocated without which they wouldn’t speak to me, they finally gave me the name of a hospital I’d never heard of that wanted to see me. When I asked what the hospital wanted to see me about they said they couldn’t tell me. So I asked for a name I could contact. Nope. How about at least giving me a number I could call? You can guess what’s coming: they weren’t allowed to give me one.
At this stage I was beginning to feel like my head might explode (I believe the real Bizarro’s may once have done that, though I can’t be sure because if I’m honest I’ve always rather preferred Marvel’s X Men to Superman).
Nonetheless I pointed out that I’m having to deal with a smorgasbord of medical problems, which is kind of stressful at the best of times. Sending me a letter about an appointment I didn’t know I had to make to visit a mysterious clinic at a hospital I’ve never heard of which is apparently contactable only through the exertion of supernatural powers, doesn’t help that much.
The person on the other end of the phone was very apologetic and admitted it was all a bit crap but, well, there was nothing he could do about it. The only suggestion he could offer was to call the aforementioned GP (again) to ask her about it.
By which time I’d had enough. We managed to find a cottage to hire in countryside a short (and therefore manageable for me) distance from London and this all happened the day before we were due to leave. So I knocked the whole thing on the head.
Unfortunately I wasn’t gifted with ESP when my legs stopped functioning properly. And I’d really rather live on earth than Bizarro World. Sadly, though, the above situation might seem bizarre but it isn’t. It’s just a rather extreme example of what anyone regularly comes across if they find themselves rehabbing from a serious accident. I fear many permanently disabled people, or others with chronic or difficult and dangerous medical problems face similar travails.
This blog is not intended to be a whinge. Just a description of what hundreds, maybe thousands of people in my position have to put up with. I’m sorry, but you really couldn’t make it up.
By the time I’m through I fear I may be seeing a lot more of the neuro people. Because I’ll have a smashed skull to deal with as a result of banging it against a brick wall.Tagged in: healthcare, nhs, recovery, rehabilitation, road traffic accident, RTA
Recent Posts on Health
- World Aids Day 2013: No time for complacency
- Living with Rett Syndrome: Trying to face some inevitable truths
- Living with Rett Syndrome: Walking in someone else's shoes
- The HPV vaccine: Preventing cervical cancer in the developing world
- Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day: Why we need to know about this breast cancer middle ground
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter