Monday 12 April 2010 5.24pm
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
I've been drying my ears with cotton buds since the year dot and I've never had a problem, until this morning. I withdrew the stick and there was nothing on the end of it. My muffled hearing confirmed that the cotton bud was still inside my ear. My immediate reaction was to put the stick back in and try to 'hook' the cotton wool out. You've guessed the rest. Of all the days my wife chose to take a holiday from work it had to be this day, when I'd done such a daft thing. Naturally, she was less than sympathetic and compared me to a three year-old. She advised me to phone the surgery and make an appointment with the practice nurse. The G.P.'s receptionist, after conferring with the nurse, informed me that it was a case for A & E, not for them. I couldn't believe my good ear! A & E? Just for that? I asked if they could at least look at it before I embarked upon a lengthy wait at the local hospital and I was told, 'No.'
When I arrived at A & E I was told I should have seen the practice nurse at my local surgery. Quelle suprise! They were a little surprised to hear that it was my local surgery who had sent me to A & E.
There were only about half a dozen people in the waiting area, which I thought was too good to be true, and so it proved. For half an hour nothing happened, then one person was called. Another twenty minutes passed without any more names being called and the waiting area began to get busier and busier. Mums started arriving with children sporting a variety of minor injuries and more adults also began to trickle in at regular intervals, including a bloke in handcuffs with a bleeding foot accompanied by two burley coppers. (Happy to say he went straight in. Not a pretty sight for the kids.) After two hours I'd had enough and politely approached the receptionist and enquired as to roughly how much longer I could expect to wait. There were now dozens of people waiting and some, including children, were obviously more serious cases than me and would understandably be seen first. 'No idea,' came the reply. I couldn't resiast asking, again politely, how it was that some adults who had arrived after me and were carrying no obvious injuries, were being called before me. I was told that they were only seeing the triage nurse and would not see a doctor until after they'd been assessed. The reason I hadn't been called was that in my case no assessment was neccessary. So, basically, being such a trivial case, I would just slip further and further down the waiting list. I immediately signed myself out and went straight back to the G.P. where I appealed to the receptionist, virtually on bended knee, for the practice nurse to just look at my ear. Eventually, but a little reluctantly, she agreed, but I was told she would only look and that at some point I would have to go back to A & E. I was given an appointentment with the practice nurse for 3 p.m., (two hours later.)
The nurse told me to keep the ear lubricated, (e.g, with olive oil,) and then go back on Friday when the cotton bud could then simply be washed out.
All that, just for that. Over four hours out of my life, including a two hour wait in what is one of the least desireable of places and, to add insult to injury, a two quid parking fee for the fun of it. All for something that could have been sorted in five minutes.
I know I did a stupid thing, but hands up anyone out there who's never dried their ears with a cotton bud. Who will I vote for in the forthcoming election? Anyone who can sort out our National Health Service!!!