A trip to outpatients to get the results

So how did I feel when I finally got to see the neurologist about my test and scan results?

It was an early appointment – 9.15 in the morning – and the outpatients department had that bustling, efficient feel that children try to emulate when they play doctors and nurses.

I had taken the precaution of buying a cup of strong black coffee so the World, from the caffeine addicts’ perspective was just fine.

There is something reassuring about drinking coffee in the middle of a crowd. At railway stations, airports or hospital outpatients departments, I always feel somehow just that bit more alive if I am sitting, slightly detached, amongst people, observing but bolstered by that caffeine kick.

It is the children’s game again. People in uniforms, different ones for different jobs, ambulance men in green, nurses in blue.

Departments were in full swing.

The blood test receptionist had set up her stall – her desk full of notes, her roll of numbering tickets ready at hand, right under the number sign that would summon each patient to the syringe.

Ambulance drivers sat behind another desk, they too had clip boards ready in front of them. Elderly patients, frail patients, they were listed, catered for. At an approximated time, after their check-up, they would go home, incongruously but if they only knew, excitingly, in the back of a van.

Nurses, sturdy women mostly, full square on the ground with flat, sensible shoes, called out names and smiled welcoming smiles. Nervous men and women shuffled off behind them fumbling with their coats wondering down which corridor they would be lead.

Reception had put out its black fencing which would zigzag the patients to the desk where they answered questions whilst the receptionist filled out forms.

Date of birth: So long ago. Such a different world; that maternity ward when a hospital was just a whirl of colours and shapes.

Post code: Meaningless numbers swapped like a game of snap. Yes we have that too on our form. You are who we were expecting, the name on the form.

Religion: Why did I say Jedi Warrior? Well, she laughed, it is just possible no one had said it before. No it is not, she was being kind, reassuring, making this a friendly place where only good things happen.

Then a smile and time to sit. Sit and wait.

Wait and drink that coffee, feeling good about the World.

Then the neurologist came out greeting me like a long lost friend.

Last time, I thought, I was not dressed. She was the same though, confident, charming with a sparkle in her eyes. That sparkle of good humour with the confidence of practised intelligence.

Everything was fine, I was not concerned.

Well, I sat down and, immediately, unexpectedly, that bustle, the excitement of a children’s game vanished.

There on her computer screen was my brain.

The image as captured at the last MRI scan.

Where was that star burst of blood? Not there, a good sign? No there was another small bright circle. What did that mean?

An irregularity.

The need for more tests….and readmission to hospital.

The momentary shock dispersed, the consultation was a bright, optimistic but serious conversation. Like a dinner party but with an agenda.

When I had walked in I saw a student doctor sitting in a corner, I was introduced as “the miracle patient.”

I had got better….maybe that was not expected…but being a miracle was good.

Coffee and compliments, what else do I need?

The EEG test, that strange experience weeks ago with electrodes on my head, that too had produced its results. I was normal…unlikely to be epileptic.

I would soon know more….more tests, more decisions….more results. That irregularity would be explained, acted on and maybe even sorted.

I left, content, happy to be a part of this buzzing optimistic World.

Outside, in the rain, I walked into a bleaker environment.

I was not better. I carried an irregularity inside my head.

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