Wednesday 10 April 2019

Checking up

Setting up
A few months ago, my biannual consultation was scheduled for a week later than originally planned. I had a mental note of the date but was unsure and I did not want to miss the appointment, so I called the hospital to determine when the time and date would be.
Having entered the appointment times on my patient card and my calendar with a few alert notifications for two days, a day and an hour before my appointment. The precision and timing are necessary as if I do arrive for my appointment flustered or in a hurry, the momentary reading of my blood pressure is irregular and by that, concerning.
Slicking up
As I had no other plans for the day, I could not fathom why my night’s sleep was a bit disturbed, I was awake for most of the night, maybe in anticipation of my consultation as in the intervening time between the last and now, I had had my pills changed for 7 weeks of hell which I documented in a 47 -day diary to convince the specialist nurses that I should be allowed to go back on the prescription that had served me well since May 2010.
Whilst my original prescription could introduce neuro-cognitive impairment in some subjects, the lapses I have noticed seemed to be highly compensated for, that it did not bother me that much. My doctors used that to impose by relentless persuasion from a choice of 4 different medications, a choice that theoretically would not have changed my routine even though one of the side effects if that was not scary enough was sudden death.
Ticking up
The side effects I endured apart from flatulence, insomnia, nerve twitches, unexplained aches, vivid dreams, constipation and a host of other forgettable experiences that made life almost a living nightmare made me remonstrate ever so strongly against trying another cocktail of medications besides the ones I stopped using just over 7 weeks before.
Also, I had undergone the colonoscopy that involved the excision of a benign polyp and all these events almost scuppered my desire to visit South Africa for the Christmas holidays. The medication would have affected my travel insurance as you are asked if you had changed medication in the previous 30 days, then the advice after a colonoscopy is not to fly for at least two weeks after the procedure.
Then, usually, one would do some blood work a fortnight before the consultation, but there was a lot of work-related travel in the last month that I could not find the time for a phlebotomy session. It all culminated in making today of the utmost importance.
Keeping up
I arrived for my consultation on time, sat on the weighing stool that elicited readings on the higher end of the scale I normally dread. My blood pressure readings had the nurse intone, I was a rather ‘chilled-out’ person. This amongst other comments about my dressing.
I met up with the chief consultant of the department, we met a few years before when having done my reading up on her research and career history, I probably was better equipped for our meeting than she was acquainted with my medical notes. We have a healthy rapport and sitting in with her was a student. I welcome students to my consultations as this exposes them to real-life scenarios necessary for them to appreciate what it takes to practice medicine and it could open aspects of medical research that might better help others in the future.
Making up
We discussed my state of health, the change of medication, the post-procedure results and what led to the procedure, my mental state of health and other sundry matters of the heart and social life. My medication would switch to generics as it is now out of patent and as I am visiting South Africa soon, we needed to determine whether any of the places I would visit are in a malaria zone.
I have to be mindful of this, if I decide to visit Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo are safe. Another appointment is scheduled for 6 months’ time, but it was a relief that the spectre of Brexit did not impact on obtaining my medication. I was a bit concerned about it.
At the end of my consultation, I gave a urine sample and offered up 5 vials of blood, in a few weeks I should get the results. It was a good day.

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