Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Blood, Sweat and Thyroids - the NHS Experience

One of the frequent criticisms levelled at this bunny and Libertarians as a whole is that we tend to see life rigidly through the lens of State = Bad and Private = Good. Of course the killer issue is whether your experiences drive your beliefs or the possession of certain prejudices alters the way in which one interprets the events of their everyday existence. This bunny has occupied environments where welfare has taken people's sense of independence away from them while providing a sort of cotton-walled prison, seen the way in which Statism as a way of life causes all manner of problems for others and can link every aspect of instinctive liberalism (the notion that you own your life and everyone else owns theirs) to a personal narrative which I've shared snippets of with you. and may elaborate on further at a later date.

Taxpayer-funded organisations have what could be charitably described as a very mixed record. Some state schools and hospitals perform well, while too many turn out illiterate teenagers or subject patients to MRSA-infested wards, leaving them in worse health upon leaving hospital than when they went in. The full spectrum of success and failure can be easily experienced by a lifetime of 'shopping' in the State sector. Some of this bunny's teachers possessed stratospheres more competence than others, the same could be said of doctors, with the helpful and diligent, in it for the right reasons, doing their utmost while a significant minority clearly regard the patient as nothing more than a statistic. The medical professionals' side of the negotiation on GP's salaries clearly played a much more aggressive form of hardball than the government - one of the inherent weaknesses of the State is its chronic inability to drive a firm bargain with regard to the spending of taxpayers' money.

Of course it may turn out that this bunny suffers from nothing more serious than acute hypochondria and some serious lifestyle issues, but I'm convinced that my thyroid is, to use a technical term, fucked. The ongoing bouts of tiredness regardless of whether I get six or ten hours of sleep, fluctuations in weight, mood swings, habitual melancholia, and one of the telltale signs of Hypothyroidism, a yellowing of the skin round the fingertips. This bunny was in the curious position of hoping a blood test would confirm the hunch, since seven years of aches, pains, bloating and fatigue regardless of choices on diet/drinking/smoking etc. take their toll both physically and mentally while causing something of a 'couldn't care less' attitude towards looking after oneself. The fact that I had to work this out alone after years on pump inhibitors to deal with the acid reflux that caused one in every three meals to come straight back up is something we can forget for now - that said I'm stunned that in all this time none of the several medical professionals I'd spoken to considered a thyroid issue amongst the possibles.

Last week this bunny took a morning off work to undergo a 'fasting blood test' - that means no food or liquids besides tap water from midnight the previous day and is more uncomfortable than one might think at first. Following up the results in the last few days, I was delighted to hear that I'd come up negative for diabetes, anaemia, liver poisoning (I should admit this was actually a surprise), hepatitis, the plague and a multitude of other disorders that might explain some of the aforementioned symptoms. The thyroid test, that which I'd originally asked for, was pending, and remained so until this morning. Ultimately, I discovered that the laboratory had never tested my blood sample for Hypothyroidism, since somewhere in the chain, the appropriate box on an appropriate form had gone unticked. This is hardly a hanging offence and is the kind of shit that happens.

One Saturday morning many years ago, I heard my father ranting on the telephone to a clothes shop after they had made a simple mistake of supplying something in the wrong size. Hearing his hysterical, insane demands for the poor girl behind the counter to be not simply sacked, but tied to a chair and tortured over several weeks (on reflection I may be exaggerating) made this bunny resolve not to 'lose it' with people in the same fashion. Not for the first or last time, his instinctively Statist attempts to be 'the boss' had instead made him look like a first class arsehole, and rather than stick around to endure the seven hour monologue about how right he was that would inevitably follow, I took a diplomatic decision to retire to a quiet watering hole. Alcohol and its unique gift for erasing painful memories is a close friend of this bunny - if I'm honest we're probably far more intimate than is healthy or sensible.

Anyway, the point is:- we will all screw up while doing our best at work and would only hope that the demonstrable honesty of those endeavours would buy us a bit of latitude in terms of the way the situation is judged and dealt with. As someone who has made my share of mistakes and probably yours in addition, this bunny tries to put himself in the position of the individual making an honest error and act accordingly - so I'm not mad at anyone on a personal level and once the initial frustration had died down, what's done is done. To their credit, they sorted out a second blood test within a matter of two hours, my (top notch, it should be said) line manager understood the situation, permitted a short-term disappearing act, and my sample was on its way to the microscope squad by mid-afternoon.

They've even labelled the blood 'urgent', which at least means it won't be shunted to the back of any would-be queue, and we may know the result for certain by Friday. Ok, the whole process has taken longer than it should ever have done, but in isolation that is not what gets this bunny's goat. The real issue was that of powerlessness, that should the same chain of events unfold next time then there will be the square root of sod all that can be done about it. Apparently, medication for Hypothyroidism is free on the NHS, for which I should presumably be grateful - however, if this creates a culture in which the patient is taught to accept sub-standard service and swiftly run along, then I'd rather pay something, anything, and in the meantime I'll donate the value of a prescription charge to charity.

The ultimate form of accountability comes not with raising complaints, filling in forms or playing postal pinball with one quango or another, but by taking one's hard-earned elsewhere. This is why ultimately, despite the many experiences, both good and bad, in the State sector, this bunny will always approach its monoliths and bureaucracies with an instinctive sense of suspicion. Many thanks to all the caring and capable people who've helped this bunny out in the last week or so - I genuinely appreciate their efforts, it's just the 'sacred cow' for whom they work that represents the problem. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear of your illness Daz; it sounds like one of those things that people are sceptical about-until it happens to them! I hope you're over the worst of it now, but as I say all things that happen to you can be a chance to grow and be a better person, even a bad experience like you've had.