Yesterday I ended up with a nasty looking eruption on my finger. It was very big, very yellow and very hot. I'd also been feeling a little bit 'off'. A low temperature, achy, tired - all the fun stuff. Friends and family quite rightly pointed out that I needed to get to the doctor. After all, I didn't want to end up in hospital again.
Despite the hospital staff having told me that cellulitis had a tendency to recur and I should always get anything I'm not sure about checked out, I hesitated. "What if it's nothing?" "What if they shout at me?" "I don't want to waste their time."
I finally relented and made an appointment for this evening but part way through the day the damn thing burst. I'll spare you the gory details but I no longer had an eruption but a little hole...and now I felt even more daft for making the appointment.
After all there was nothing to see now. Just a little hole and a low temperature. Not really worthy of an emergency appointment. So, I called to cancel...and then I got the third degree.
"Did I really need the appointment in the first place?" "What was it for?" "Why am I cancelling it?"
I understand why the receptionist felt the need to ask these questions but this is exactly why I hate going to the doctor in the first place. The feeling that I'm wasting their time. That other people need the appointment more than me. That I'm putting a strain on an already struggling service.
I remember having an appointment one Friday afternoon when the doctor confided in me that I was the only person who hadn't gone in demanding drugs and complaining pretty loudly when he wouldn't prescribe them. Apparently people book emergency appointments on a Friday if they've got a bit of a cold or a dicky tummy because they don't want to spoil their weekend.
I was a little shocked at this! But here lies part of the problem. GP surgeries are under immense pressure but sometimes the general public are to blame.
People booking an appointment for minor ailments which can easily be remedied by a trip to the chemist or a dose of paracetamol. People booking appointments and then failing to turn up. People calling emergency services for a broken nail. (If you don't believe me, it's right here:
I understand the frustration of NHS staff but I'm not sure I'm to blame in this instance. In fact, I've got into trouble from my doctor for not going to see him sooner in one instance!
If you think you need to see the doctor by all means go. After all you're the only one who knows how you really feel and whether it's normal for you. But if you're otherwise healthy, have a bit of a sniffle and you have a big night out planned, then suck it up!
After all we only have one NHS, and it might not be there forever.