Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Funny bones.

It's Wednesday morning and we're back at the fracture clinic, would you believe (you better believe), for that CAT scan. A registrar walks into the consulting room, a male one, young, quite handsome, not that this has anything to do with anything, and says, “Sorry, but the CAT scan hasn’t been booked in for today, I think the dates got mixed up.”

“Right,” I say.

We’ve just waited for more than an hour in a hot and crowded waiting room, but I guess it doesn't matter.

“So,” he continues, “I’ll book it immediately and then when you come back in a few weeks' time he'll have the scan…”

“Excuse me,” I say, interrupting, “sorry to interrupt but could I ask a question?”

“Of course,” he smiles. (He’s very nice, there's an apparently endless supply of very nice doctors at St George's hospital fracture clinic).

“What's the scan for?” I ask. “I mean, he’s not in pain, as we’ve previously established. And, well, I mean, yes, the lump looks a bit unsightly but he’s had it a while now and he’s not really bothered by it, so, er, I mean, if he has the scan how will that help?”

“Good question,” says the young and handsome doctor, looking down at the notes on the desk in front of him. “Well, if it’s a non-union fracture as we said when you came before, we could operate to re-break the bone and pin it back together.”

“Right,” I say. 

Silence, a brief one.

“Why?” I say.

“Er,” says the young and handsome doctor, now studying the notes in front of him more carefully. “Well, if he’s in pain.”

“He’s not in pain, though.” I say.

“No,” says the doctor. “And if it’s affecting his functioning.”

“It’s not affecting his functioning, though." I say. "He does P.E. He fences on Saturday mornings. He plays tennis on Tuesday after school.”

“Right,” says the doctor.

"And I know it's not perfect," I go on, "but hasn't the bone managed to sort of heal itself?"

"Er, um, yes," says the doctor.

“And,” I continue, “I don’t think I’d want him to go through an operation and have the bone re-broken if it’s not really necessary, not if it’s just for cosmetic reasons. I think I’d rather he just had the lump and learnt to live with it.” I turn to Youngest. “Wouldn’t you rather just have the lump and learn to live with it?" 

“What?” says Youngest, obviously not listening.

“I’m saying,” I say, “I don’t really want you to have an operation unless it’s really necessary.”

“Oh!’ says, Youngest, “Right. No.” And he shakes his head, vigorously.

I turn back to the doctor. “Because here’s what I’m thinking,” I say, "why have this scan at all?”

“Er,” says the doctor, fiddling with the notes on the desk in front of him.

“I can see you’re really busy, the whole hospital is full to bursting, and, I mean, you could slot us in to the system and we could come back in a few weeks and wait for an hour, again, and have the scan and establish it’s a non-union fracture or a partial union fracture, or whatever, but if he's not going to have an operation to correct it what's the point?”

“Good point,” says the doctor.

And then I add, “Not that I want to tell you how to do your job or anything.” And I laugh a bit because I realise that's exactly what I'm doing. "Or is there something else it could be? Something more sinister?"

"No," says the doctor.

"There's no possibility," I go on, "that it's something horrible, like a malignant growth or something?" 

"No," says the doctor. "Not growing on the exact spot he broke it. No."

"So." I say.

“Yes," says the doctor. "I think you’re right. I think I’ll discharge him and he can go home and if he’s in pain in the future then take him back to the GP and he could come in and have a scan then. He can always deal with the cosmetic issue later, if he wants to.”

Yes! I think, but I don’t say this.

“Great,” I do say, "because to be honest we'd quite like to get out of here." And then I laugh a bit, nervously, because I realise that sounds a bit rude but fortunately he doesn't take offence he just smiles, again, and then we go home.

Love E x


P.S. No P.S. Except for this: George Galloway… help!

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