Tags: rhematoid arthritis, rheumatology, RA, Rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, joint pain, GP, doctor, NHS, medicine, R.A., folic acid
I’m Pollyanna right? I can do this glad-game thing! OK, I’m glad I’ve had to go to the surgery and the chemist three times this week because it’s given me an opportunity to enjoy more of the beautiful spring weather (in between the showers). I’m glad the doctor completely screwed up my last prescription in three different ways, because otherwise I wouldn’t have had that lovely experience I’m so glad about. I’m glad that I had to go in to the surgery reception tonight and point out that even after a conversation with the doctor yesterday, he had not sorted out the correct repeat date for my folic acid, because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had that amusing conversation with the receptionist about kicking her cat.
Hmm … doesn’t sound too convincing, does it, really? Well I am at least trying – but it’s very trying, especially as I’m still at the tail end of a flare.
Here’s what happened – in brief – I hope, although I do have a tendency to waffle on, as you may have noticed.
I put in my repeat prescription as normal, picked it up Monday, got it home and realised that my folic acid was missing. As my folic acid was the only thing I’d run out of (I just ordered all the RA drugs at once to save another visit to the chemist) I was a bit peeved. I contacted the surgery reception and had a conversation something like this:
Polly: I’ve collected by repeat scrip but it doesn’t include my folic acid.
Receptionist: Ah … let me look it up. Oh I see, that’s because you’re not due any until March.
Polly: Yes I am, I’ve run out.
Receptionist: Oh no, you can’t have. You see it was issued last month, and you take it three times, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Receptionist: So that’s three times a week
Receptionist: And they issue you twelve, so …
Polly: Yeeeeeeees …
Receptionist: <lightbulb going on> Oh! That is actually a month’s worth, isn’t it?
Receptionst: Oh … in that case it looks like the doctor’s made a mistake.
Well, to cut a long story short(ish) that wasn’t the only mistake he’d made, so although I was able to have my folic acid rushed through and pick it up in time for me to take it on Wednesday, I then realised there were two other things (non RA-related) also missing from my prescription! I checked the repeat prescription paperwork and it quite clearly said that those things were due now … and that the next batch of folic acid was due in … April.
So I phoned again and asked for a doctor to call me back to discuss this, which he duly did! I had a very pleasant conversation with him, while being driven to my mum’s house by a colleague in order to turn off mum’s faulty burglar alarm … but that’s a whole nuther story … and, after an entire repeat of the conversation with the receptionist – ‘You take it three times a week … we issue twelve … OH!’ etc. he assured me he’d change it on the system and also put through a prescription for the other two things.
Tonight I went to pick them up, feeling happy, relaxed and full of the joys of spring. I went into the chemist and sure enough they did have my other two items ready. Hurrah. Then, foolishly perhaps, I checked the paperwork. Instead of saying ‘Folic Acid – due 26 March 2014’ in nice, neat print, it said ‘Folic Acid’ and then 26 March 2014 scribbled in in biro over the printed ’26 April 2014’! All very well except that a) I could do that myself, and indeed when I next put in a repeat request the doctor (probably not the same one) would assume I HAD done it myself and just not issue me any, just like the last two months and b) what happens when I want some more in May or June or whenever and the issue date is for two months down the line again?
So I went in and, having honestly been really nice and polite to the receptionist the first time (and not mentioning breathtaking incompetence at all), and really nice and polite to the doctor (in spite of mum’s alarm going off in our ears in the middle of the conversation), this time I blew my top, flipped my lid and generally had a big squawk! The receptionist was lovely – didn’t apologise exactly, they never do I’ve noticed, and neither do the docs, probably terrified if they say sorry I’ll sue them for something, but was very helpful. She put in a note for the doctor saying it did need to be changed, please, and suggested I call tomorrow to find out if it’s actually been done. (She obviously has as much faith in the system as I do!) When I said that I was sick to death of going in there and had had to come in three times in the last three days she said, ‘You should try working here. I love my cat, but honest to God I go home each night and want to kick it!’ Don’t tell Enormous Cat, but this evening I knew how she felt!
It’s been a week of ups and downs – the ups were two days off, Monday and Friday, for textile/embroidery related things which were great fun – the downs were a ‘flarette’ and … nope, that’s it, just the flarette really! It meant that on Friday, when I visited a textile fair with some friends, I was hobbling around with a stick and slowing people down .. and climbing in and out of the ancient, slightly decrepit minibus, which looked like it had recently been ‘gone over’ by a bunch of worse-for-wear rugby players, was really ‘interesting’! Still, if it hadn’t been for the minibus I wouldn’t have got there at all, so thank you driver! In spite of the flare I managed to have a nice day – and a very sociable one – not just with the friends I travelled down with, but with everyone there. The small size of the event meant that everyone was chatty, which was really nice, especially in the canteen where I spent a rather large amount of time, since I couldn’t walk well!
The fair was in a school, meaning that in the canteen you either sat on the end of a bench or had to climb in – which I couldn’t do. At one point I limped up to the end of a table where there was a lady sitting the other side already, sat down and accidentally bashed her slightly with my stick. When I apologised she just smiled and said ‘which leg is it?’ ‘Left’ I said. ‘Oh good,’ she said, ‘it’s my left too, so if we sit diagonally we should be fine!’ It turned out she was an autoimmune arthritis sufferer too – and a lovely lady, although sadly in a worse state than me, making it hard for her to actually do all the crafts she loved. We had a good conversation though – as I did with several other pleasant ladies I shall probably never see again!
She said she’d decided to leave her stick in the car, because she didn’t want to become too dependent on it. I only use mine occasionally, when flaring, because bits of me give way and then I can’t walk at all but I can hobble if I’ve got my stick; but it raised an interesting point, I thought. Can one become too dependent on a stick? Maybe. I know that when things were getting better yesterday (hurrah) I felt safer with my stick, just in case – but I did I really need it? Maybe not. Does it matter? Well, probably not if I was happy to just carry it and not use it, but that looks weird and then all the old folk in town give you the evil eye, a look that says, ‘Ha, suppose you’re one of them “benefit cheats” I was reading about in The Mail.’ I know I shouldn’t care what they think … but it’s hard not to. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones’ but a hard stare from a pensioner cannot hurt me!*
Perhaps the answer is one of those fold-away canes – but the problem is they’re not exactly feather-light and my handbag is quite heavy enough as it is!
Answers on a postcard please …
* I have nothing against pensioners, and chances are they have nothing against me and it’s all in my head … but we do have a large percentage of pensioners in our town, which is why they are statistically most likely to be the ones giving me ‘the look’!