This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
My youngest grandson has just mastered the act of walking. He looks a bit like a baby orang-utan with his arms stretched up yet holding his hands in a limp manner. It seems he’s checking for a change of wind or a passing branch to hook onto. Unlike his sixty-one year old grandmother who seems to have lost her balance somewhere. I have vertigo.
I move from pillar to post clutching onto anything or anyone that looks solid and upright, whilst my head plunges off cliffs in gay abandon and somersaults into unknown depths.
I went to see an ENT man in the hospital up the road from where I live. You enter this place and immediately are greeted by a grinning Concierge. He takes you to a smiling lady with a clipboard in her hand. We trust clipboards, don’t we?
Clipboard directs me to a very expensive leather chair. I felt secure and comfortable. Others looked smiley and content.
I noticed some artfully arranged desks and chairs set off to one side, individually separated by potted plants and trees. Behind every desk and computer sat an officious dark-suited lady or gentleman. Occasionally Clipboard would lean down to a couple or individual and point to a recently vacated seat opposite the dark suits.
That’s the last you saw of any smiling! ‘Smiling’ was replaced by ‘In Shock’.
Innocent punter has just been plonked in front of a Credit Suisse banker or his twin. This wasn’t going to be much fun!
‘In Shock’ have to produce file upon file of information about their health insurance. If the computer says “No” then you produce bank cards galore to personally fund some as yet unknown bill. It’s not a long stretch to start contemplating, “Which child do we sell?”
When you start feeling sicker than you did before you arrived, Clipboard leads you back to another very expensive seat (you mustn’t wear out the same seat). Now you have the time to really study the ‘bankers’ hall’.
I hadn’t noticed the counter selling organic, freshly ground coffee or the pastries that have just flown in from Paris … brioche and pain au raisin. How did I miss that? This is nestled right next to the ‘Jet for Hire’ counter! Who would have known? How terribly convenient …. especially with the traffic being so busy at this time of day.
I sat back and watched couples arrive and go through the same procedure as I had.
First smiling Concierge (now you know why!) passed to Clipboard lady (evil sorcerer). Then sitting in ridiculously relaxing chair (make the most of that seat girl, you won’t be there long). Led towards the banker interrogators (leave now!) … hand over all one’s worldly goods… (maybe sell house or kids?). Led back to different chair… complexion now white as a sheet. Spot jet for hire counter… nervous giggling then cry. See the counter selling coffee (fresh from Brazil)… demand coffee from bankrupt spouse… lost all sense of reality.
When the ENT specialist recommended an MRI scan, I jumped at it. At long last we could find what’s causing my vertigo!
By now it had become crystal clear that my medical insurance wasn’t going to pay a penny to a hospital with a ‘Jet for Hire’ in its reception.
We spent many hours walking around Kensington Gardens, contemplating giving up the insurance all together.
“What’s the point of it if they don’t pay up?”
“Yes … but then you might really need it!” (Don’t I need it now?)
“Why do you need it? Don’t those consultants (whose entire pension plan we are personally funding) work in the NHS too?”
“Ok… I get that you can’t choose that consultant or see him within the next four to six months, but stop being so spoilt!”
So off I trotted to have the most expensive MRI scan on offer. My one had to have ‘contrast dyes’ apparently. Of course it did because it’s much prettier.
Having thought I’d said goodbye to ‘The Hospital Not Covered’ I had to return to hear the verdict of the MRI from a neurosurgeon friend of the ENT man.
This was called ‘Pass the Pauper and collect £300’, which I think was a bit tough on all of us.
He was very jolly and explained that the scan had flagged up absolutely nothing on the vertigo front but had found an aneurysm on the left side of my brain. Most people don’t get a pre-stroke photo of their brain.
“Do you smoke?”
“No you don’t!”
“Well I really do and after that news it’s highly unlikely I’m going to stop on such short notice!”
“We will take you in as soon as we can!”
“I’m off to Sri Lanka in two days. I’ll be gone for a month.”
“God help you if it bursts over there.”
“Well it won’t, as what’s the point of us discovering it, only for it to kill me before we can deal with it?”
“Ok you have a point there. When you return you can meet the neurosurgeon I’d recommend. He works from another hospital… is that a problem?”
“It’s frankly the best news I’ve heard all day!” (Keep your Health Insurance)
“He will crack open your head and clip the aneurysm – sound good?”
“You will have a hell of a headache!”
“I don’t do headaches, so that’s fabulous news too.”
To read what happened next click here