(disclaimer: not for the squeamish)
Thankfully I am overall in fairly good health (touch wood). As a result I rarely come into contact with the UK's famously, um, underfunded, National Health Service, although each time I do it's routinely excruciating. At university, every single complaint was diagnosed as potential pregnancy. Laryngitis? Are you using condoms? Twisted ankle? Have you considered the contraceptive pill? Seriously.
And let’s not forget the horrendous embarrassment of the male doctor forced to give me a rather intimate examination earlier this year. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone quite so mortified at the prospect of me getting my kit off.
So it is with great trepidation that I find myself once more on the road to certain humiliation. Following a light spot of adult entertainment at the weekend I discovered that I was bleeding. As it’s not *that* time of the month something has clearly gone awry. For various tedious reasons (namely the number of times I have moved from place to place in recent years), my GP is miles away from my current abode, and getting an appointment there is more difficult than getting a table at The Ivy on BAFTA night. They only take appointment bookings at 8am. And with over 10,000 patients on the books, it is absolutely impossible to get through on the phone. Your only other window is 2pm when you may/may not get an emergency appointment some time that afternoon. But as I can’t exactly get there in my teabreak this is not really an option either.
So I did the next best thing. We have a national helpline staffed by NHS nurses, called (unimaginatively) NHS Direct. After giving four different people my address about six different times (apparently in case I passed out during the call and they needed to send an ambulance. Safety first! Jeeez), I finally got to explain what the problem was. The nurse, to be fair, was fabulous. Kind, reassuring, and the purveyor of some very weird questions. Is the skin peeling from my hands and feet? (is she running a manicure/pedicure salon as a sideline? I know our nurses are appallingly paid, I suppose I should applaud the ingenuity). Have I had any ‘internal investigations’ lately? (she KNOWS about the trouble at work!) and my ultimate favourite, was I having ‘natural sex’ at the time? I was tempted to make some wisecrack about that being a matter of opinion but managed to resist.
But yeah, there’s no escape, I need to see a doctor. My wonderful mother, of all people, has managed to burrow through the endless bureaucracy and get me an appointment on Thursday. I can’t wait.