Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blissful Ignorance

I finally registered with my local GP yesterday. Well, whoopee for me! It came up in conversation with someone last week that I wasn’t signed up with a doctor and they were frankly appalled and concerned at my cavalier attitude.

I mentioned to her, what I always say, that growing up in the Westcountry, and spending some years on a farm, we would only visit a doctor if a limb had been torn off or a relatively vital organ had been coughed up. Saying that made her eyes widen further than if I had casually violated her.

When I came back from America in 1990 and moved to the flat in North London I eventually registered with my local GP. He was a typically miserable old bastard and I only had the pleasure of seeing him one or twice over the years before a letter arrived from the Local Health Authority stating that he had been set to jail for taking a seriously unhealthy interest in his younger patients.

The woman mulled this over then told me I simply had to be registered, especially if, while I was out one day, I got myself squished by a large moving block of metal. I didn’t really push that, assuming that my shredded remains would be scooped into a bag and handed over to the GP.

So I walked up to the local medical practice and eyed the Audis and BMWs in the doctor-reserved car park. Inside I eventually got to fill out the form and give them the details, which I had already been sent away to find out. (Does anyone know their NHS number offhand?). Just when I figured my job there was done and was about to go, the receptionist booked me in for the initial exam. Huh?

I wasn’t sure how much of my piss was needed for the test but I filed that container to the brim. In return I discovered that I’m 180 centimetres tall – almost five foot, eleven – and my weight is.... Wow, that fucks my BMI ragged! I explained I’d quit the gaspers just before Christmas and this was the unfortunate result. The exam nurse nodded thoughtfully then looked at the question on the computer’s electronic form. She asked if I was a smoker. Huh?

Then came to the blood pressure test. When we were filming for NOF at the Labour Conference in Brighton a couple years back, during a lull in proceedings the nurses worked me over. I discovered my bad cholesterol was low, which was good, but my good cholesterol was also low, which wasn’t as good. Still, I wasn’t a goner.

The only real problem was the blood pressure That problem was, with the cuff tight around my bicep, it took something like five goes before the machine returned an accurate reading rather than a return an error message. Back then in Brighton it was high. Yesterday it was through the roof: 178/108. Apparently that’s not good. The nurse asked when I could come in today to see a doctor. I only came in to register!

This afternoon I pretty much figured out which doctor owned the BMW. That would be the complete arrogant cock whose office I ended up sitting in. After answering his first question he told me I hadn’t answered his question. In the middle of answering his second question he told me to be quiet so he could take my blood pressure. Yeah, that’s going to help it.

Eventually I walked back to the reception with an invite to the local hospital’s Cardiology Department, a form for haematology tests, and a prescription for an anti-hypertensive. The reception took one look at the look on my face and started laughing. I only came in to register, I told her.

“Blood!” she enthused. I told her the last nurse who took blood samples from me was a cross between Nurse Ratched and Rosa Klebb’s ugly sister and so heavy-handed changing the individual vials that the resulting bruise ran from halfway up my bicep and down to my wrist. She laughed even louder. I told her this was all because I had quit smoking and piled on the pounds. She had just started again. Maybe next time I’m in I’ll take her round the back for a gasper. That put a twinkle in her eye.

I plodded around to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled. When the pharmacist discovered this was the first time I’d been prescribed medication she was around the counter, asking about when I ate in the day and explaining the best time to take my daily tablet. I only came in to register, I told her. See you next time, she said. Huh?

So there we go. Apparently, at any moment, I could explode. “Is there anything you can think of that could cause your blood pressure to rise?” my exam nurse asked. Well......

Back when it was announced that Doctor Who was coming back to our screens, and when it turned out that the writers of that first series were real fans of the original show, the big worry was that it would just be an exercise of fan wank of truly epic proportions.

For all its faults, it never actually got that bad... until Saturday’s episode. What the holy living fuck was that? Maybe I missed one or two plot points because all I could hear was a roaring sound in my ears, but there’s no way I’m wasting time on a repeat iPlayer performance.

I suppose using alternate universes where everything is changed is a common cliché in science fiction circles. The Star Trek incarnations would take a trip to their Mirror Universe, usually as an excuse to dress the women up as dominatrixes. That said, it also produced the Star Trek – The Next Generation episode Yesterday’s Enterprise, and, from the original series, The City on the Edge of Forever.

So, it’s not always a bad thing. But those stories were set in one instance in time as the characters struggled to set everything right. The Fat Controller’s episode, Turn Left, was set all over the place, like a bizarre clip show filled with silly in-jokes that at no point really made any sense. Billie Piper was so stunned to be back that she stopped acting. How, and why, did Rose keep turning up? Did I miss something there?

Why didn’t anyone tell Catherine Tate she had a cheap and frankly embarrassing black plastic bug on her back? When it died why didn’t it ooze fan wank? And what was the point of the Pompeii seer’s warning when it was an alternate universe Donna. Is that right? So even though she simply sits back and watches events unfold with a nod and a wink, until she’s convinced it’s all about her and does something about it.

In The City on the Edge of Forever, which is considered the classic Star Trek episode, Kirk and Spock have to go back in time after a deranged McCoy changes history. Arriving in Depression-era America, they end up at a mission run by Edith Keeler whose vision of the future is alarmingly prophetic. As Kirk falls for Keeler, Spock discovers she is the focal point of this altered timeline.

To restore things to their natural order, Keeler needs to die. Eventually, reunited with McCoy, a duty-bound Kirk has to stop him from saving Keeler when... she steps out in front of a lorry and is killed. Well, how about that?

Previous Davies-scripted episodes have thieved ideas and visual concepts from all manner of films, television and literature – most notably Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for the second series finale. But to steal from Harlan Ellison? Oh, baby! That really does show some balls.

Last year the eleventh episode was a nonsense story cobbled together to simply reintroduce The Master, prior to the two-part finale. This year it’s the same old load of cock in readiness of, from the look of the preview, every character from Doctor Who and the spin-offs coming together for a massive Viking funeral wankfest.

I may have to double my dosage, just in case. If, in a couple weeks time, the line of communication here goes dead it might just be because I’ve exploded.


At 10:32 am, Blogger potdoll said...

hope your blood pressure comes down GD. that's really high for your age isn't it? x

At 1:14 pm, Blogger qrter said...

They're already running those Dalek-y promos, which make me sigh.

Just like Davies is completely overrated as a writer, the Daleks are overrated as baddies - as a kid, I always thought the Cybermen were much scarier (that was when the Cybermen still were sadistic men-machines from Mondas, not Created By Humans in Yet Another Parallel Universe). Well, maybe they're not overrated, just dull because of overuse.

At 1:30 pm, Blogger Jon Peacey said...

Thank God I'm not the only one to think that Turn Left was complete drivel! I'm also glad to discover I'm not the only one who thinks the RTD episodes are a bit, er, derivative and dull...

I always found Horror Of Fang Rock to be the scary one- right up 'til the point they revealed they were battling a fruit pastille. But it had Leela... so 6 of 1, half dozen of t'other!

Hope your BP gets under control soon. I'm on the borderline of needing mine controlling (created from my own anxiety) so it has to be regularly checked and I've just had 18 months of tests, tests and more tests at my local Cardiology department.

At 3:45 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Dr Cock said that normal BP is in the region of 130/90.

The first number – the systolic BP – is the maximum pressure in arteries when blood is pumped out of the heart into the body. The second – diastolic BP – is the minimum pressure in arteries when the heart fills with blood.

Obviously the higher the numbers the more stress put on the pipes. He told me, “your heart is a muscle.” Really? I thought it was a fucking sherry trifle. What is it with bloody doctors?

Of course he didn’t like it because I mentioned the tips and tests I had picked up when we did the NOF work. Yes, motherfucker, I have taken a peek behind the curtain! Now, where’s my freaking lollipop?!

Still, the first pill seems to be doing some good, just as long as I only suffer from the common side effects, rather than the uncommon or rarely reported effects.


Give it a couple more weeks, and once that nasty, stinky Doctor Who smear has been wiped off the TV screen and I should be a whole lot better.

At 5:21 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

How about this for a statistic:

The third commonest cause of death in the UK is the medical profession.

Was that needle sterile? Is the diagnosis correct? Have they filled the prescription properly? What's in those pills?

You're initial instinct to avoid men in white coats was well founded.

On a good day, you enter the surgery with athletes foot and leave with c. difficile.

On a bad day, you're rolling up your sleeve for a serial killer.

At 5:50 pm, Blogger rik said...

Almost the same exact thing happened to me (not the Dr Who bit!) when I first registered with a Doctor after I moved to the USA a few years ago.

I made an appointment for a minor skin irritation that I had at the time and the next thing I know there are sticky pads and wires on my chest and they are doing an EKG on me. I left that day with a prescription for 2 blood pressure meds and have been taking them ever since. Mind you, getting a prescription for something is part of the immigration process for living here it would seem.

I was also asked "Is there anything you can think of that could have cause you stress recently?" ......."Hmm lets see, well in the past 2 months I have left my home of 27 years and moved to a new country, quit a steady job, have no new job lined up, got married and moved into a new house"

At 6:22 pm, Blogger Jon Peacey said...

Is the most common cause of death not seeling medical help? As in:

-bit of a chest pain- probably indigestion.
-bit of a stomach pain- can't possibly be a burst appendix.
-bit of a rash- just acne.

At 6:52 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

When we were filming the NOF material, the nurses tested one guy whose body mass index was practically off the chart. With his jacket off his shirt was soaked in sweat even though it was a late Autumn day in Blackpool.

After the tests they gave him a letter to give to his GP saying that, health-wise, this chap is a powder keg with a lit fuse. And his response was... he actually was a GP.

I've been in hospital once as a patient, when I was a kiddie having my tonsils out. That's been it. I guess I've been lucky. I fucking hate hospitals. I mean, they're full of sick people for a start.

When a girlfriend from a while back was in the Royal Free, having a clean and clear up following a miscarriage, when it came to the operation time I fucked off up to the Screen on the Hill. Well, it was showing Barry Levinson's Avalon, which is a great movie.

Actually, that might have been one of the reasons she later tried to stab me.

Rik, I think what it is with doctors is they listen to what you say but don't take it in. Is it the whole God complex thing? Or simply tiny cock syndrome? But living in the States, you've got to be on something.

Having said all of that. Having wanted to kick the doctor's face clean off within twenty seconds of being in the room, occasionally they're useful.

As Jon says, not seeking medical help is just as bad. Given what I said about the family attitude, when my mum mentioned the old man's symptoms a couple years back, I spent ages shouting down the phone that he should get his prostate checked.

And he only just made it. Of course they went private for all the treatment and everything. NHS? Fuck a goat!

At 8:05 pm, Blogger rik said...

I think you're right about the doctor's not hearing what you're saying. It was like he couldn't wait to hand me the prescription no matter what I said. I had had my blood pressure checked the month before and it had been fine then.

The other thing he kept banging on to me about was my weight.
I'm 6ft 2" and usually weigh between 175 and 185 lbs so I'm not svelte but I'm hardly overweight. But he would berate me if I had put on a just few lbs in the months since my last visit. I wouldn't mind so much but he wasn't very slim himself and his nurses were nearly all in bad shape.

Anyway he's left the practice now so I get to see someone else next time.

At 8:34 pm, Blogger Clair said...

My sympathies. Personally, I've always - and currently do - have great GPs. The one I cannot forgive was my parents GP or many years standing who, when my mother asked if there was any help or support she could get for my Alzheimers-ridden dad, sucked his pipe and just said 'No, not really' and left it at that. The prick.

Also, I've not been watching this series of Doctor Who at all. I think I miss Martha.

At 8:47 pm, Blogger qrter said...

Was Martha the one that said "Oh Doctah!!" all the time and fell in love with him, also all the time?

At 8:51 pm, Blogger Ian said...

I am hoping and praying that, for reasons of health, you did not watch tonight's episode which should have been called "Aero" it had so many plot holes in it.

My excuse for watching, when last week's trailer had pretty much revealed it would be the usual poorly written, stunt-casting, ridiculous tosh, was that this week's "Time Out" gave it a rave review.

Alas, it was even worse than I thought it could ever be. Just ghastly. Awful stuff that made the average Torchwood episode look like a BAFTA winner.

The only satisfaction one could get from this episode was the knowledge that at the end of it there would only be a couple more episodes (the season finale and the Christmas episode) before the wretched RTD is gone for good.

Off to watch some "Battlestar" now to remind myself of what GOOD sci-fi is all about.


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