Posted by sean on March 2, 2020 at 11:26 am in Health with No Comments

I recently attended my local hospital, for a routine appointment regarding my breathing.

As we only live round the corner from the hospital site, Claire pushed me in my wheelchair. I would like to report that it was a relaxing and peaceful stroll, but I can’t.

While it would be unfair on the two of us to say that we left late, we did have to make haste, to ensure that we were not late. This meant that Claire had to walk fairly briskly, all while pushing me rather quickly!

A pretty intense workout, I can imagine…

A combination of Claire’s speed in getting me to the appointment on time, along with Bath and North East Somerset Council’s poor maintenance of the pavement, meant that it felt as if one of the wheels was going to fall off my chair and I was going to topple out onto the ground again.


Part of my outpatient visit involved providing a sample of blood. This blood isn’t your every day, common variety. The blood required is apparently special – as is the way of obtaining it…

In order for the special blood to be successfully collected, the patient must travel to Tibet and climb to the summit of the Lhotse mountain.

You will meet a monk, who will use the ancient Wand of Pavitrata (‘pavitrata’ being Hindi for ‘purity’), to extract the blood from a specific spot, located at the rear of your head. The extraction may only take place once every four years, on 29th February.

Luckily for me, my local hospital is also able to perform the procedure…

When providing blood for a standard test – of which I’ve had many* – you can normally expect the following…

  • Turn up in vampires’ lair and take a seat.
  • Roll up the sleeve of whatever garment you happen to be wearing.
  • Allow the vampire – normally wearing a plastic apron and latex gloves – to tie an extremely tight belt around your forearm.
  • Say a quick prayer that the blood supply to your wrist doesn’t get cut off and you lose your right hand.
  • Listen out for the vampire telling you to expect a “short, sharp scratch”.
  • Watch while vampire produces what can only be described as a skewer, large enough to roast marshmallows on a camp fire.
  • Brace yourself as skewer is jammed into your arm.
  • Get told by vampire that they couldn’t find a vein and that they will have to try again.
  • Watch with tear-filled eyes, as the skewer is removed from your arm and thrust back in.
  • Notice that this time, without the warning of a “scratch”. You’ve been stabbed once already and know what it feels like. The vampire isn’t going to insult your intelligence.
  • Relax as the pain from the skewer, now embedded in your body, eases. Possibly because of a severed nerve.
  • Tell yourself not to look at the claret coloured liquid, draining from your punctured limb.
  • Look anyway. Either vomit, scream or faint. Possibly even a combination of all three.
  • Breathe a sigh of relief, as the skewer is removed.

  • Worry when you are given a cotton wool ball and instructed to hold it over the wound.
  • Try not to think about the fact that this small ball of fluff is the one thing preventing you from bleeding to death.
  • Thank the vampire when they stick a plaster over the gaping hole.
  • Wonder why you just thanked somebody who committed GBH on you, just two minutes earlier.
  • Leave vampires’ lair.
  • Ask yourself why two vials of blood were taken, when you were only being tested for one issue.
  • Realise to your horror, that vampire will be drinking one of the vials for their lunch.

* oh, and blood tests are nothing new to me – this  is due to them being a daily occurrence, during my three stays as an inpatient. I don’t keep getting tested for STIs, in case you were wondering.

Apologies if you found my guide to providing a blood sample a little graphic. I’m not even needle-phobic!

Luckily, the most recent blood test didn’t involve being stabbed with a needle. Instead, I was slashed with a knife – no, seriously!


Did I tell you that for this test, the blood had to be taken from my ear?

To provide a good quality sample, your ears need to be hot. My earlobe was therefore covered in some cream that smelt of Deep Heat.

I know that many people hate the smell, but I’ve always been a fan. If I could wear it as a cologne, without it resulting in my family, friends and colleagues refusing to come within 500 feet of me, I would.


Unfortunately, my King Lears had become cold, during the journey to the hospital. I was going to suggest that the staff on reception start gossiping about me. Apparently, if people are talking about you, your ears start burning.

Instead, the blood nurse (I’ll show her respect, by not calling her a vampire) placed a tissue soaked in hot water, over my ear. This did the trick. Why they didn’t do this to start with, I don’t know. Maybe the nurse enjoys the fragrance of Deep Heat too.

Once my ears had reached their optimal temperature, the nurse got her knives out. Surprisingly, I was more concerned about my coat getting blood on it, than somebody slashing me with a blade.

You may recall, that when I had my scooter accident last November, the paramedic had to cut my lovely blue coat – releasing hundreds of goose feathers into the street.

I really liked that coat and I was kindly given an identical replacement for Christmas. As I was wearing this coat at the time of my latest hospital appointment, I was a little concerned that I would ruin it, by dripping blood everywhere.

Thankfully, no excess blood went astray, as the nurse managed to catch and contain it all in a test tube, before whisking it off for testing.

After being suitably patched up, I was asked to return to the waiting area, where I would soon be summoned by the consultant and told how well or poorly I performed on the exam – sorry, blood test.

The waiting room was rammed. I have visited the same unit many times before, over the last 18 months, and it had never been busy. Something told me that I wouldn’t be seen on time.

After waiting around 40 minutes, the consultant called one gentleman into her office. He politely asked if his family could join him, and was naturally told “yes”.

With that, no less than half of the waiting room stood up. It was like the entire Brady Bunch had come along.

The consultant apologised to the man for the tardiness of her clinic, to which a posh woman, who was presumably family chortled “Never mind. My children wanted to spend an afternoon in a hospital waiting room!”.

Despite her ‘joke’, it was clear to me that she was exhibiting faux joviality. I found her to be rude.

One of the main reasons why clinics run late, is because patients use more than the time allotted to them for their appointment.

I am of the belief that every patient has the right to spend as long as they need with their doctor or consultant. It is none of our business what they are discussing and certainly not our position to judge.

If a patient before me spends a long time in their consultation and causes my own appointment to run late, that is not an issue for me.

It clearly was a problem for the posh woman. Incidentally, the gentleman whose appointment she sat in on, spent over half an hour with the consultant.

Now, I am not ignorant enough to forget where I was at the time – a hospital. It could have been the case that the woman was worried about her relative, which may explain her curt manner. If stress was the reason, I hope that her troubles are resolved. I still disagree that there is an excuse to be offhand.

Naturally I didn’t mind in the slightest – I believe it to be his entitlement – although, I wonder if the woman cracked any more passive-aggressive jokes about the time they spent in the consultation room?

Although I generally don’t mind about hospital delays, there is something disconcerting, when the receptionist and other admin staff shut down their computers, put their coats on, before collecting their bags and heading home for the weekend.

I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been forgotten about – just like what happened to Victor Meldrew in an episode of One Foot in the Grave.

When I was eventually summoned to be seen, Claire and I both made a collective sigh of relief. I was almost certainly the consultant’s quickest appointment of the day. No doubt she wanted to get home as quickly as we did.

This is certainly not a bad thing. The reason why my consultation was so brief, was because the tests carried out on my blood all produced encouraging results. Basically, my breathing is healthy and as it should be.


While I wasn’t too surprised by the results, as I have been feeling well, it is always a relief to hear – especially as it was respiratory issues which landed me in intensive care in 2018.

I celebrated my healthy lungs by smoking an entire pack of Hamlet cigars and suckling on a Shisha pipe.


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