Monday 17 January 2011

The Doctor

10th November

Our second day without running water. The boat plumbing expert is coming tomorrow.
Today I went to the GP surgery at 16 and a half St Peter’s Street. Barge Mum says a drawback of boating is the difficulty of registering with a doctor. The PCT tried to get us chucked off of our doctor’s list because we did not have the correct postcode. Our postcode is just our post-box, I explained. Our boat’s winter mooring is actually two minutes walk from St Peter’s Street. The computer said ‘no’. We had to get the Patient Advice Liaison Service to sort it out for us.
16 and a half St Peter’s Street is a modern black and white painted, single storey building. Yet the black painted, wooden panelled front door is incongruously olde worlde; with two window panels, a brassy letterbox and a brass doorknob. The semi-circled fan-light window above it has the name of the medical practice in painted letters on the glass. Inside a wooden-floored waiting room accommodates two neat rows of green vinyl covered chairs, solemnly facing each other like soldiers on parade. The notice-boards colourfully offer patients information on immunisations, malaria, bladder and bowel problems, alcohol service consultations, meningitis and the Angina Monologues website, which will tell you that Heart Disease is the biggest killer of women in the UK.
The lovely receptionists are blue-uniformed, smart-buttoned and friendly. The digital screen bleeps and displays another name; another patient leaves the room; the others patiently continue waiting. It bleeps for me. Out the back, a corridor takes me impossibly further into an older, character building, much bigger than this small building could possibly contain. A strange puzzle of physics allows there to be a multitude of closed doors, doctors name plates, balustrades, a staircase and banisters, and strategic pot plants dotted about as I ascend up and up through an old Victorian house.
I open a particular door and am welcomed by a friendly female doctor. I sat down and told her about weight loss, tiredness, fatigue, problems with concentration and memory, decreased appetite, inability to relax, loss of sex drive, feelings of tension, irritability, moodiness, anger, frustration, anxiety, and unhappiness. I read on line that these could be the physical and mental signs of stress. But they could also be simply the natural response to sleep deprivation, being a mother, and finding our narrowboat home a bit of a challenge. The anxiety is partly caused by not being able to get a winter mooring this year. The doctor is a mother, she understood me not wanting to move around anymore with two young children. She arranged some blood tests, suggested counselling and prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Common side effects of the drug include drowsiness, insomnia, weight changes, decreased sex drive, and fatigue. Less common side effects include, anxiety and mood swings. So I’m not sure if I’ll notice any difference....
As I walked home from the chemist with the pills in my pocket, I tried to ignore my imaginary friend Mick Jagger, who was strutting along beside me singing ‘Mothers Little Helper’.

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