Yesterday I had to go to A&E.
Nothing to panic about, really. If you read my previous blogpost you'll know that over a week and a half ago, I injured my knee and was left unable to walk. I'd spoken to my GP who basically gave me the usual 'rest it, elevate it' type spiel, but I just felt like no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get back to full health. Finally this weekend I thought I was getting there, but on Monday morning I twisted it again, so badly that I decided enough was enough! So despite it being a Bank Holiday Monday, my husband and I called an Uber and off we went to St Barts hospital.
This is the second time I've been to A&E in about three years - I went at the end of 2014 too with chest pain from what turned out to be costochondritis, an inflammation of my rib cage. Both times despite being at different hospitals with completely different complaints, the A&E worked similarly - a consultation with a nurse, who sent me for a scan - first time an ECG, this time an X-ray - and then after a wait, I saw a doctor.
I probably waited about 2 and a half hours in all before I saw the doctor. Everybody in the waiting room was like me - cross, and in pain or ill or otherwise uncomfortable, bored and grumpy about spending their bank holiday Monday indoors. People were snappy and tense and on edge, sighing every time a name was called that wasn't theirs. I felt pretty grateful to be there with such a minor complaint, but by the time the doctor called me I was seriously ready to go home.
And the doctor was incredible. He examined my knees thoroughly and looked at my shoe to show me where I tread and how that's affecting me. He talked to me and didn't dismiss my small, but budding desire to become a runner like the GP had -he discussed it and suggested ways of strengthening my muscles to work around my body's natural inclinations. I left feeling so reassured, so much happier, sure I was treating it the right way. He was genuinely interested and he never once made me feel like my complaint was trivial or that I had done anything wrong.
He does that over and over again, all day long, on a bank holiday. On a day when you're sitting at the pub with your mates or recovering from a heavy night on the Sunday or at a BBQ or having lunch at your mum's, he's in a neon-lit room with a bed in it that smells faintly of disinfectant, helping kids with broken arms and old women with bad chest infections and teenagers with sprained ankles and twenty-something women who can't stop dislocating their stupid knees. All of them grumpy and cross and tired, and he does it with a smile, and he does it well, and WE DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.
Do you honestly, honestly think that doctors should get paid less for that? I think there's been so much focus on the incredible life saving work doctors do - and they do, and that's amazing. But oh my god, there's also so much tedium, so much boring, routine work, so many broken bones and sprains and pneumonia and migraines, and doctors realise that while that's just a half hour appointment to them, to you, it's huge and terrifying and horrible and scary, something that will be a story you still tell down the pub in the future. They treat you with dignity and respect and they reassure us and fix us up, patch up the wounds, send us on our way. We take it for granted that if we break a bone, it won't be a disaster because a nice doctor will fix it. Do you know how lucky that is? Nobody in this country needs to worry too much about serious food poisoning or a bad flu because there's a doctor who will make it all better.
Do not let people with political agendas take away from the fact that our doctors are incredible and they deserve more, not less recognition for the work they do. Not just the times they save dying babies or bring a stopped heart back to life, but for the other, every day miracles they perform every day. I am grateful and I can wholeheartedly say I support the junior doctors, and that you should too!