In which our heroine wastes half a day to be told the blatantly obvious.
Three health appointments in a week is no fun. It disrupts me from my idle sofa routine, it disrupts my dogs – Snowy doesn’t like to see me being taken away by the ambulance crew – and it most definitely disrupts my partner.
The first appt was physio. Despite his somewhat straight face and quietly insistent manner, I think he is OK. Patient Transport came to collect me. They were annoyed. I had been seen walking around Morrisons. We thought they were joking. Partner and I both came out with the same comment. ‘I/She hate/s going to Morrisons even when she can walk.’
It was laughable but they were deadly serious. ‘People take the piss out of us,’ said one still muttering about it as they carried me up the street. I wondered how my doppelgänger managed to wield two wobbly crutches and a basket or a trolley and get on the bus? Of course not, my partner would have driven me there. Given that – like me on the rare occasion I go – he walks and buses there, the last thing he would do would be to waste fuel to drive me to the shops for a non-pleasure trip.
Perhaps it is their standard catch-someone-out line. Oh, she’s a woman, she’s British, bet she’s been to Morrisons shopping, let’s see if she blushes and looks embarrassed. In fact it plunged me into a fit of depression and I had such a sad face one of them asked me if I was all right. Sure, I’m good. You’ve just accused me of waltzing around Morrisons. I did ask if I should contact their manager. ‘It’s his word against yours.’ Of course. Guilty until proved innocent. It’s not as though Morrisons don’t have CCTV. They could find pictures of my alleged shopping escapade.
By the time I got to physio, I was on the point of seriously embarrassing myself and bursting into tears at reception. My physio took one look at me, wheeled me into a private room, and I broke down and told him what had been said. ‘Everyone’s an expert’ he said drily, referring to the ambulance staff. He brought me a cup of water and some paper towels to dry my wet face. And off we limped to the gym. Before I left he told me community physio would be coming to see me to look at how I managed stairs. Groan. There’s no arguing with him.
On the return trip the ambulance staff were very quiet. No more comments about Ms Shopaholic.
The routine is that I ring Partner when we set off from hospital, so he can open both doors to our block, bring the crutches to the landing, and wait outside the flat holding Little One so he doesn’t escape. Pippa is too calm and tranquil to bother escaping.
Except, with Partner and Snowy trapped behind me, and the ambulance staff helping me out of the carry chair, Pippa seized the moment to coolly walk out and trot off down the steps. I couldn’t move, and neither could Partner. I limped into the flat, the ambulance staff finally got out of the way, Partner threw Snows in the flat and grabbed Pippa’s harness and went off in pursuit.
Of course, the block doors were still open, and Pippa had sauntered out into the big wide world of Gibraltar. Luckily he’d gone up the back, rather than heading towards busy Main Street. Sadly for Pippa not a cat in sight, and he was quickly harnessed up and brought home, still with a rather smug look on his face.
He’s currently on Meloxicam for his arthritis. Based on his Houdini performance, highly recommended. It’s a people drug too, unlike his previous animal-specific ones. Meloxicam, on prescription, costs €2.50 for 20 tablets. He takes half a tablet a day, or when he needs it. It’s an NSAID, although not a Cox-2 inhibitor, but Pippa seems to be doing very well on it. Too well at times.
Two days later we changed the routine to prevent Houdini going walkabout again. Appt to see surgeon at 11.30. Ha! Bet that wouldn’t happen. Picked up at 11am. Snows was enclosed in the bathroom, I snuck through a narrow gap in the door, Houdini was kept under strict observation. Arrived at orthopaedics around 11.20. An hour or so later I was wheeled in to see Mr Doom and Gloom. He admired his work. And sent me off for an X-ray :( Could I go home after X-ray? I’d tried this wheeze before and it worked. No.
A little trainee doctor came out to tell me to make sure they X-rayed my left leg, not my right. Uh? I repeated this to the radiographer, in an embarrassed sort of way. She looked at the computer, and said ‘Someone’s asked for the right leg… but we always listen to the patient. They tend to be the ones who know what’s going on.’ Ha!
Finally delivered back upstairs to Mr D and G. ‘You’re healing well,’ he pronounced, but then not wanting to spoil the moment with good news, he repeated his mantra, ‘it was a very nasty fracture and you have the worst bones in the whole of the western hemisphere.
‘Are you walking?’
Sure. That’s why I’m sitting in a wheelchair.
‘No. I can limp a little with crutches.’
‘Where are they?’
Clearly not here, dickhead.
‘I didn’t bring them. Would you like me to get up and hobble?’
So I did. He wasn’t impressed. He then impersonated my hobble, pointed out I couldn’t walk and wasn’t bending my knee sufficiently. Gee, that’s helpful. I couldn’t have worked that one out on my own. I know how badly I hobble. It may also explain why physio has been giving me knee-bending exercises possibly? And standing on tiptoes? And dancing around on each foot to improve weight-bearing?
‘Six weeks,’ he said. Arrogantly.
‘Can you walk?’
‘Then come back in six weeks.’
The somewhat stupid nurse wheeled me out and asked if I needed a porter. No, I can wheel myself downstairs. Or hobble badly. And almost certainly fall over.
She called for a porter and meanwhile started filling in the chit for my next appointment. ‘The clerk will sort it for you,’ she said airily and left.
The porter arrived. ‘Reception?’
The clerk still hadn’t arrived. I still had no appointment. I made my rapid escape courtesy of the timely porter. Maybe they’ll catch up with me, maybe they won’t. Houdini 2.
Back down in reception, at 1.20, an ambulance person helpfully said they were on lunch till 2pm.
‘I’m not going anywhere.’
I was just pleased to have hopefully wriggled out of another waste of space appointment in six weeks time.
Reception itself was roped off, and I was in a little side area. Around two o’clock, I noticed a few Spanish ambulances transferring patients and they seemed to be going in the main doorway.
I decided the Davros chair routine was called for, which I had perfected during my two weeks in hospital to and from the bathroom. Using my good foot, I propelled myself to the outside door to peer outside. Yup. The taped off area outside reception was now open. How would the Patient Transport staff find me in this little side entrance? Davros then propelled her way through to the now open main reception area and plonked herself very obviously in full view.
After a PTS van came and went – without me – I asked the person on reception to check they were coming for me. She didn’t even need to ask my name. Does the whole of the Gib health service now know me? Or, even worse, read my blog?
One of the crew members who finally came was the ex-para. The one who broke both legs jumping with a parachute, and was walking after eight weeks and running after 12. No doubt he was parachute jumping again after 13 weeks and breaking his legs all over again. And back on his feet again the next day.
‘Haven’t they got you walking yet?
‘My daughter [or daughter-in-law, can’t remember which] broke her ankle three weeks ago. Right across the middle of her ankle. She’s walking now.’
Bully for her.
‘And how old is she?’
‘Then she’s got twenty years on me.’
The conversation died. I could have added, she clearly didn’t spend 12 days waiting for an operation due to fracture blisters, nor was she told to avoid weight-bearing for at least six weeks post-op due to the most fragile bones ever, and then have to wait another week for physio, which makes nine or ten weeks of wasted muscle and inactivity. It’s hardly likely to result in speedy recovery. I didn’t bother saying any of that.
But I’m just getting the same attitude all the time. I look fit, so why aren’t I walking? I must be walking. I spent my whole working life in an office. I’m not a bloody paratrooper and my body didn’t earn my living, although once in King’s Cross, Sydney… anyway that’s another story.
Four hours, door to door. And for what gain? To be told I’m not walking by the surgeon and for ambulance staff to tell me I should be.
The contracts manager
In between juggling looking after me, and preventing Pippa Houdini running around the streets of Gibraltar, wide and narrow, Partner had gone to meet someone about a job on Wednesday. No, she didn’t have the budget to pay his first figure so he dropped his price.
She accepted that, and then launched into her terms and conditions. Hmm. When he told me, it sounded like he was being treated as an employee without the benefits. We waited for her to send the email he’d requested, confirming payments and T&Cs. It never arrived.
So the following morning, he didn’t turn up for the job. Eventually the ‘phone calls and texts started. Still no confirmatory email. We expect confirmation in writing from all customers and sub-contracting is treated no differently. Unless they are eminently trustworthy. Which, in Gib, is most unlikely. Everyone gets stiffed at some point by someone.
Probably just as well it didn’t come off as it was the day of my four hours in hospital saga. I dread to think of Snowy left alone in the flat and barking incessantly for four hours. ‘Please bring my mistress back NOW. BARK BARK. I WILL bark until you do.’
The following day, Friday, I’d arranged for community physio to come and supervise me down the stairs. Best get it out of the way, and then have a week free of appointments.
There was no way she was coming in the flat. The deal was, help me with the stairs. At the best of times the flat is a tip, and with me out of action for more than three months, it’s even worse. Someone might take the dogs away from us because we are untidy and scruffy!
So when she arrived, early as per usual with Gib health services, I hobbled out of the door. Um. She was really nice. Helpful, not pushy, and patient. We went down the stairs. She wanted me to go down the outside steps to the street. Oh. No. I need someone who can totally bear my weight to tackle those. I refused.
Back through the hall and up the stairs. I pointed out the bad go to heaven too, so we practised going up one leg on alternate steps. By which I mean the way walking people go up steps, not those who drag one foot after the other. I agreed to ring her when I’d spoken to my hospital physio. Phew! Another appointment avoided.
Meanwhile the enthusiastic contracts manager who wasn’t willing to put anything in writing to Partner, pulled her ace. Except it had us in hysterics.
‘Please get in touch. I am so worried you are lying in a ditch somewhere.’
Really? When Partner hasn’t had contact with her for years? And there are no ditches in Gibraltar?
We laughed. Lots.
A more professional attitude would have been, ‘Hi, I’ve spoken to the boss and negotiated agreement for your original price, and some flexibility around the T&Cs.’
In a week of strange contacts, here’s the scale of respect ie gained or lost:
Ambulance crew who told me I’d been shopping in Morrisons: -5
Surgeon: somewhere between -7 and -10
Stupid nurse: -5 (previous ones were brill)
Radiographer: + 5
Brilliant porter who helped me escape: +7
Rude ex-para for being thoughtless and not taking different situations into account: -7
Hospital physio: +9 for being sympathetic, flexible, yet still focused on my rehab
Community physio: +8 for putting me at my ease, helping with difficult technique on the stairs, and not being pushy.
And the construction contracts manager?
Off the minus scale really. The ‘lying in the ditch’ text was ridiculous. Seriously, how can you respect someone professionally who resorts to such drivel?
What’s the phrase? Something about running with big dogs and not peeing like a pup.
To finish – Houdini 3
The Ark was seen recently in La Linea. Playing loud music of course, although for once to my taste. Did I get to see him? No. Another escape artist.