Friday, 26 February 2016

An impatient patient...

It's always interesting when the doctor becomes the patient.....but from a personal point of view, I think it's beneficial to see things from the other side.

I had been referred for an MRI scan by A+E, but thought there might be a waiting time of a few weeks, so was surprised to get a phone call from Glasgow within the week to ask if they could book a slot for me. It turns out that Dumfries and Galloway Health Board have something called a "Waiting Time Initiative", which enables them to send people out of the area for an earlier appointment. I wasn't complaining as I was keen to get my scan done, and so having discussed it with my colleagues, I took an afternoon off work and travelled up to the Nuffield the next Wednesday afternoon.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from an MRI scan, but when the radiographer told me that it would take about 45 minutes, I thought I'd have a nice relaxing lie-down. How wrong could I be? It is one of the noisiest experiences around.

Despite wearing earplugs, I could hear a constant background thump which sounded like a rather rapid heartbeat. To add to that, there was  something which would have sounded like birds tweeting away happily had it not been quite so regular (and had I been outside rather than enclosed in a tiny room). While each of the scans was actually being done, there was an extra noise which sounded rather like a jackhammer going at various rates ("intellectually", I knew that this would occur due to the expansion and contraction of the coils in the machine, but at the time, it still took me by surprise)! I'm astonished that I could actually hear the radiographer's voice over the intercom with all that going on in the background.

However, I figured it was definitely worth it to find out what was going on with my leg, and as they'd promised to report it that day and then email/ring the results through to the A+E consultant in Dumfries, there was really very little to complain about.

At least that was what I initially thought, and I was prepared to extol the virtues of accepting a 2 hour drive up to Glasgow to all my patients that had it offered to them.

Unfortunately, after the scan I was informed that they would not email or phone results through for NHS patients (hmmmm.......I wonder if they would for private patients?) so I said that I was happy to wait for the scan to be reported and take the results back myself.

The next bit of bad news was that the radiologist was having some "car trouble" and so wouldn't be coming in, hence the scan wouldn't be reported until the following week (I didn't date ask why a bit of cat trouble on Wednesday lunchtime precluded him from reporting a scan until the following week).

By this time, I was feeling rather frustrated that I'd just had a totally wasted trip (which actually turned into a 5hr drive plus an hour for the scan). Eventually they kindly agreed to copy the scan onto a disc for me, so that I could get an unofficial opinion from my local radiologist while awaiting the formal one.

Yippee......I was off down the road clutching my disc and dropped it off at Dumfries hospital later that night!

The next morning, I got further bad news.......the disc was actually blank and so there was nothing to be done but to wait a week (well, it's been a week so far and still no word....) for the formal report to be done and sent down. What an insight I got into how doctors really do "make the worst patients"!!!

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