Sunday, April 5, 2009

Looking good

Okay, so this is what happened...

Friday 27th March
A flicker of recognition lights up the face of the young female doctor, “Oh hello, how are you? You look really well.” We’re standing in the queue at the hospital shop. “I’m good, thanks, feeling much better now,” I reply, “Just come in to see the consultant.” It’s strange how many people I know at Whipps Cross these days. I’m on nodding terms with far too many doctors and nurses for someone not on the NHS payroll. “It’s always nice for us to see patients looking so well again,” she says, filling a slightly awkward gap in the conversation. “Yeah, I wasn’t exactly at my best before,” I admit, thinking back to the Primate of Primrose Ward look that I was sporting the last time we met. The doctor smiles politely, no doubt also thinking back to the Primate of Primrose Ward look that I was sporting the last time we met. The two shopkeepers behind the counter beckon us forward simultaneously, providing welcome respite from the pressure of enforced conversation. We both finish at the same time and leave the shop. “Well, nice to see you, bye,” says the doctor as she turns right. “Um, yes, bye,” and I begin to follow her before realising I’m going the wrong way. Like some bumbling Englishman in a tired cliché-ridden Richard Curtis film I try to act all casual and turn on my heels and head back the way I came. I just catch the doctor looking over her shoulder with a slightly confused look on her face. Her step quickens.

“You’re looking much better than I thought you would,” beams my consultant. I could get used to all these compliments. I take a seat. “Yeah, I’m feeling alright, getting back to my old self.” It’s exactly 4 weeks since surgery and this is my first appointment with the gastroenterologist. We exchange a few brief pleasantries then get down to business. I recap on my meeting with the surgeon earlier in the week and explain how he still believes I have Crohn’s. This is met with a smirk and much shaking of the head. “You’ve definitely got ulcerative colitis. Every test we’ve ever done shows ulcerative colitis,” before adding, “And we are gastroenterologists, we deal with these things day in day out.” I really expect him to finish with ‘so there!’ but he doesn’t, which is disappointing. Witnessing an intelligent and well-respected member of the medical profession resort to playground language would inject some silliness into a fairly mundane 10 minutes of my life. We review my medication. We lay out a plan for blood tests every 3 months. The senior consultant pops in, we shake hands, and he too remarks on how well I look. He agrees that I definitely have ulcerative colitis. UC it is then. Great. UC I kind of understand. UC doesn’t feel so much like the short straw to me. UC I can deal with. Plus it means I don’t have to change the tagline at the top of this blog to ‘Life with Crohn’s…possibly…depending on who you talk to.’ Finally it’s decided I should come back in 6 weeks and we’ll discuss next steps regarding surgery. I walk out of there tall and proud. The Primate of Primrose Ward has evolved.