Angela tells us, a trifle dismissively, that she doesn't need to see our appointment letter and there is no need for us to report in. We are to take a seat and wait to be called.
I know her name is Angela, incidentally, because I heard her introducing herself on the telephone to a patient who shall remain nameless. As he had not turned up for his appointment on May 5th, she told him, she was just checking that she had sent his
letter (presumably the one that he would not have needed had he remembered to turn up) to the correct address. I took this as a rather diplomatic way of making it clear that the appointment had been missed, thus inviting a sincere apology. This did not work
for, as far as I could tell from the one-sided conversation, the gent on the other end of the line was in a belligerent, rather than an apologetic, mood. I think she was just too subtle. There is a time and a place for subtlety but this was not it.
We are at the hospital eye clinic where Mr B is to have his annual retina check. I am here as his somewhat annoying guardian angel just in case his eye-sight becomes so blurry after the administration of eye-drops that
he won't be able to find his way back to the bus stop. Mr B sits down and I systematically read all the posters and notices decorating the walls before moving onto the leaflets in the leaflet racks. I would like to claim that this shows (i) my thirst for knowledge
or (ii) my desire to access help and information for the patient but, to be honest, I am just trying to keep my own eyes open. We had a long session at choir this morning, preparing for the concert we are giving next week - of which more in tomorrow's blog.
I bet you can't wait.
A woman turns up, to be told by Angela to take a seat and wait to be called. "Don't you want to know who I am?" the woman enquires, quite reasonably in my opinion. Angela, in response,
returns to her computer. That'll be a "no" then. At this point Mr B is invited into the surgery to have drops put in both eyes. I can hear him joking with the doctor somewhere along the corridor. It's good, I think to myself, that he is in a jovial mood. However
he returns a few minutes later, complaining bitterly that his eyes are stinging "like hell." After five minutes or so the doctor emerges to look meaningfully into Mr B's eyes to check if his pupils are dilating (I hope you are impressed with my ophthalmological
knowledge) and asks if Mr B can remember needing two lots of eye drops last time. Mr B replies, rather too firmly, that he didn't.
Another patient arrives and goes straight to the reception desk. Same question,
same response. "Why have a receptionist at all?" the newcomer queries, querulously. I shrug my shoulders in silent sympathy and compare the size of Mr B's pupils with those of the woman sitting next to me. It's okay, I did ask first. I wouldn't have just stared
into her eyes without so much as a by-your-leave.
I notice that there is a sign on the wall asking us all to keep quiet as this is "a working environment". Which I take to mean that we are not to disturb Angela
with idle chatter while she is putting missives into envelopes, highlighting whole sentences on pieces of paper and telling everyone who arrives that she doesn't need to see their appointment letters or know their names. It seems a pity because it may be idle
chatter to Angela but it's an important sharing of experiences to everyone waiting in the clinic for their names to be called.
Fortunately Mr B doesn't need more eye drops and the doctor eventually pronounces
that his retinas are hunky dory. Which isn't exactly medical jargon, let alone what the doctor actually said, but I'm sure you will allow me a little poetic licence. We walk across the road to the bus stop where we have just six minutes to wait for our transport
"Well, that was relatively painless," I say, cheerily. Mr B glowers at me through his well-dilated pupils.
"Speak for yourself!" he grumbles.