I think what hurt most of all was when I was accused of being “abusive” by that oaf standing at the reception yesterday. The man actually reminded me of the way some kids say, “You can’t talk to me like that, that’s abuse,” when I am merely being sarcastic.
It also reminded me of the time when one of the staff nurses had said that Chris was being “rude and abusive” when he was merely challenging her, actually in a rather low key way. What it all comes down to is that both of us were acting as if we were people with some authority rather than people in a submissive position which is how the NHS likes to have its patients. The actual word patient says it all, doesn’t it? Except at times I’ve felt I’m moving into the further category of invalid which translated means in-valid without validity because you’ve got a serious illness. I loathe and detest being so vulnerable and dependent upon people who I am increasingly feeling I can’t trust. Cancer is the enemy and I need all my energy to fight it, I shouldn’t be having to fight the NHS too. Even Napoleon and Hitler couldn’t fight wars on two fronts.
A friend wrote to me today about his own experience when his father was fatally ill:
“My father deserved good treatment, he didn’t get it. He got disgraceful treatment until I took a deep breath and attacked with the full middle-class weaponry: letters, qualifications, posh accent. The bastards drop likes flies when they think you can string a sentence together. I detest ‘the insolence of office,’ and make a service public doesn’t mean it serves the public; frequently the opposite, and not just in health.”
And that is just what we’ve had to do write letters, have the confidence to go and find the consultant’s secretary & complain, then offer to pay privately. All that has got me a result, an appointment out of turn with the consultant next Tuesday. But it’s exhausted me, left me feeling very insecure and wondering about what’s happening to other people who haven’t got either my resources or general attitude.
I suppose people tolerate it because they’re ill and vulnerable but it occurred to me today that would Americans tolerate this? No, they’d be on to their lawyers. Would the French? No, they’d be on to their streets.
I am increasingly wondering whether to withdraw from conventional medical treatment altogether as it is becoming so stressful & I know all the figures about the problems that chemotherapy causes for example. And if I don’t survive at least I’ll die not having had to engage in so much frustration and conflict & not feeling humiliated as I have today. I think this has been the worst part of it feeling so insignificant and degraded. In some ways I would have preferred to have paid for this consultant’s time as a method of reasserting my control.