Tag Archives: health

Body matters

10 May

I’m starting to get a bit fed up with people telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

To be fair – I don’t always. I briefly dated a sports presenter once who never introduced me to any of his sporting mates for fear I would spend the entire time asking them how the hell you score a game of cricket (40 million over 2 – what is that about? I still don’t get it).

Actually, with hindsight it could have been because he didn’t want me to find out that he was married, but that’s another story.

I’ve now locked horns with the medical profession after being told that despite having a flair up of a condition that I am already seeing a consultant for, I am not allowed to contact said consultant without first going via my GP.

“You can’t just make an appointment on your say-so”, said the apologetic nurse on the phone. It turns out that my local doctor, who has about 5000 patients in our small town, has more authority when it comes to my innards than I do. Pretty strange considering they have never even met. And the closest encounter me and my internal organs can get with him is a phone call next Tuesday morning.

It’s not the first time my body and I have ended up wearing matching dunce caps.

When I arrived at hospital in the latter stages of labour with my first child, contractions three minutes apart and beginning to feel like I was in fact a sausage factory, the midwife on duty told me to go home, take a sleeping tablet and come back in the morning. She even helpfully offered to show me a picture of “a woman who is really in labour” just in case I was missing the point of how pathetically unbelievable I was in my attempt at giving birth.

I refused both – and our son was born four hours later. My husband says I spent most of that time yelling “I told you it hurt” every time they told me to push.

The thing is, obviously i didn’t know from experience that the baby was about to stage his grand entrance. But instinctively, primevally, however you want to look at it, I had never been more sure of anything in my entire life. Every cell, every nerve ending was howling at me that this is exactly what it feels like when your cervix is the size of a carton of Dairylea (as it was delicately phrased in our antenatal classes). But nobody would listen.

I have since heard that unless you arrive at your maternity ward wailing like a banshee, you are unlikely to be taken seriously. So that is duly noted for next time. My friend Katie told me she ended up delivering her own baby for exactly this reason. Let’s hope she and I don’t ever end up in the same ward at the same time – everyone within a 50km radius of us would end up with tinnitis at the very least.

This lack of trust is not restricted to us annoying first time mums. When I mentioned the GP thing on Twitter last night my friend Olly tweeted to say he has lived with a heart condition for most of his life but still has to see the doctor to get a repeat prescription for the medication he has been on for the last 13 years.

What is going on here? Why are we – the people actually dealing whatever strange shit our bodies are trying on for size – considered to be the least able to judge what the hell is happening to us and decide what we want to do about it?

I realise the internet has a lot to answer for. You are only ever six symptoms away from a brain tumour*, no matter what you start out putting into Google (*not a fact, although it should be).

But it’s not like we are all running to A&E every time we sneeze. It would just be nice to know that, when you feel like something is happening, you’re not going to have to complete an obstacle course before you can talk to somebody who might be able to help.