I hate having two lungs.
When I was hospitalised last week, I had the worst pain on my left side, like someone was trying to wiggle a knife between my ribs. It showed a big fat middle finger to any regular ibuprofen or paracetamol and only calmed down after some stronger drugs.
Today, my right side decided to jump on the bandwagon for the very first time during this sorry saga.
So off to NHS I called.
I know a lot of people hate making phone calls. I used to be one of them but then I became a journalist. I’d have to make hundreds of calls a day, each of them completely different in matter and tone. Hatred towards phone calls shook off pretty quickly. Now I’ve understood that phone calls are actually the best way to get things organised usually so I actually favour them these days.
I also live alone. So basically, if something is the matter I have to either do it myself or figure out some other way to get it sorted. Tough shit Ida, get on with it!
First I had to wait on the line for about half an hour with a passive-aggressive woman’s voice telling me every thirty seconds that they’re extremely busy at the moment (honestly, when are they not?) and if my call is less urgent, I might consider calling at another time.
Fuck off bitch, I ain’t leaving.
First I speak to someone who works at the help desk. I tell him about the hospitalisation and that now I’m feeling the same pain on a different side. I say I’d like to be seen by an out of hours doctor so I could get pain relief. We go over a plethora of questions and he refers me to a clinician. I wait on the line for ten minutes before he tells me that the clinician is busy and will call me back as soon as possible.
In fairness, she called within like fifteen minutes.
We go over the same questions all over again. (Can we just re-establish at this point that I’m in pain?) I tell her about the hospitalisation and that now I’m feeling the same pain on different side. I say I’d like to be seen by an out of hours doctor so I could get pain relief. She asks me another scroll of questions and refers me to my local out of hours provider who should call me within the hour.
In fairness, I didn’t even make it to bathroom before he called.
“How can I help you, what sort of issue have you got?”
So we go over the saga of hospitalisation and the different side yet again. He agrees that I should be seen by an out of hours service at my local hospital. I get an appointment in 45 minutes’ time. I call a cab. I’m definitely running a fever, I basically melt on the front seat.
“Where are you from then, with that accent?”
So we play ‘guess the accent’ for a few continents before we move on to the unavoidable ‘how did you end up here then?’ Gotta hand it to him that he’s better than average, jumps straight into Sweden once we get to Europe. Finally I pretend to have a really dramatic cough to end the conversation.
There is nobody waiting at the out of hours clinic except me. The doctor sees me early.
“What’s the problem?” he asks me.
WHY THE FUCK DOES ANY ONE OF THESE PEOPLE KEEP NOTES?!
So I tell him a popular story about a pneumonia, a side that was a dickhead and now another side that has now decided to try the same trick.
He pokes at my side and it hurts like a motherfucker.
“Where is your accent from, are you American?”
We also discover that I’m running a high fever, so I get some more antibiotics. When I talk about painkillers, he tries to talk something about ibuprofen.
Oh no, we’ve come too far for that.
And finally I leave the room with the prescriptions that I wanted. I call another cab and we stop at a pharmacy on the way home. He doesn’t say a word the entire time.