Death by Powerpoint

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My doctors surgery is modern despite the magnolia walls and brown carpet tile appearance. They have a self booking in service, online repeat prescription ordering and screens in the waiting room that play a loop of information about the staff and services they offer. Having spent the best part of 8 months in and out of that waiting room, I am very familiar with the info-loop. I know all of the appointment times, the costs for travel jabs, emergency telephone numbers etc. Although I know each of the 37 pages off by heart, my eye is still drawn to it. On Friday I experienced this info-loop in a whole new way.

It was on Friday that I sat opposite Blue Clogs and her husband while they discussed each one of the slides in turn. It would not have been so bad if they were just reading aloud but as each new slide appeared, they would stare at it for a bit before one of them would jab the other on the arm and say “oh, they do late night appointments on the third Thursday of every month”, followed by a lengthy discussion, only interrupted by the next slide.

When a boring slide would appear detailing only the doctor’s name, their year of graduation and an alphabet string after their name, Blue Clogs asked then answered her own questions. Are your glands up? Mine are up. Do you think the nurse is running late? I think she is. Are you cold? I’m cold. Do you want fish tonight? I want…….. oooh, they do routine appointments from 7:30am on a Tuesday.

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“Oh you simply must go swimming”

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Normally don’t mind making small talk with fellow waiting room furniture. The limited literature, the state of the surgery car park’s pot holes (which have now been filled by the way), waiting times and, very occasionally, the weather.

On this particular occasion, I was having a sublimely sterile conversation with Pleasant Hat about her garden and how she struggles to bend now-a-days when Nosey Twin-Set got involved. She suggested, no, insisted that Pleasant Hat should swim regularly. From previous experience of swimming helping with certain issues I would agree but Pleasant was in her late 70’s at least and was wearing a cast on her foot.

Pleasant remained pleasant, pointing out the cast. “Oh which would you rather, a healed ankle or to be able to enjoy your garden?” replied Twin-Set. Seriously? I was unable to remain as polite as my temporary companion. “So she should ask to have the cast removed prematurely so she can go swimming?” I couldn’t stop from leaving my lips.

Further enquiries, possible due to long waiting times previously discussed, meant I found out she thought the answer was yes and that dressings were simply “a state of mind” and that with healthy eating and exercise “one could simply heal naturally”. The large, twice operated on, heavily packed and dressed hole in my back begged to differ. Luckily Twin-Set was then called in. She obviously lost and  mistook this surgery for her local pool.

Will I get £200 for selling my story?

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I’ve had an ongoing need to visit the surgery regularly for dressings, they’ve fitted me in at various times that are not normal patient times because I’m a regular and a 5 minute job I’m grateful but it means the waiting rooms are often empty when I’m there while the doctors are either on their rounds or making telephone calls to patients.

I heard that confidentiality was a good idea within the medical profession. Maybe it’s over-rated. Trouble is, it’s a small town. Not banjo, pig-squealing small, but there is still a chance you bump into at least 3 people you know while walking through the high street.

The doctors seem to have ignored the fact I’m sat in the waiting room and are making their various calls and having their various colleague discussions with me sitting there. I now know that Mrs B has a very bad case of thrush following the birth of her third child; Mr F’s piles would benefit from a salt water bath and Miss S should stop her antibiotics if they are interfering with her asthma medication.

OK, nothing I’d ring the News of the World about but I may know Mrs B, Mr F and Miss S. I just hope that Mr D gets the some help with his suppositories as the repeated walk through over the phone do not seem to have helped. “No, you need to remove the foil first Mr D. That’s why they are not working”.

Was that me?

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Use the intercom or get up and summon your patient in person. A huge decision each GP must face when they secure a small magnolia room of their very own. I think I prefer the intercom. It saves the humiliating walk behind the doctor as they march back to their domain while you try and keep up so as to see which room they dart in to.

All too often you see the amature waiting room guest leisurely returning their 14 month old Prima magazine to the rack only to find they’ve already lost their leader to the darkened corridors.

This is not to say that the intercom is without its problems. Sound quality. They are hardly Bang & Olufsen speakers. Nothing is more awkward than hearing your name “to room 6 please” only to realise it’s not just you who’s got up and is now heading in that direction.

For my own boredom shattering enjoyment I am grateful that the toilet is next to room 6. Wait for “Joe Bloggs to room 6 please” and decide at that exact moment you need to go. The confusion and self doubt in Mr Bloggs eyes make it all worth while.

Flat cap and his wife

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Man in flat cap with slip on shoes is very concerned about the pot holes at the entrance to the surgery. His wife is uttering sighs of someone who has heard it all before and knows she will hear it all again. Flat cap explains that unless you’ve got a “Chelsea tractor” you will lose a wheel. Flat cap’s wife musters a little giggle when he mentions there may soon be gnomes with fishing rods sat by the holes.

Flat cap goes on to worry about Dave and his attempts to clean out his garage. What an earth will he do with all those boxes of plastic? Doctor calls him, wife follows him in. I hope they get out of the carpark OK.

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