On Tuesday I had my looooong-awaited appointment with a surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital to discuss my upcoming back surgery.
“Okay,” said the doctor, shuffling some papers and staring at my MRI scans on his computer screen, “it looks as though I can get you on the waiting list after all. You’ll get your operation in 18 weeks.”
I made a little choking noise. “That’s, uh, four and a half months.”
“But I’ve already waited ELEVEN months.”
“Ah. Yes. You should have been sent to me after three months. That’s the NHS for you – they send you everywhere but we’re you’re meant to be. I’m really sorry. It makes me bloody angry.”
“But… but…” I was imagining being stuck in my flat until February. Being unable to stand up long enough to cook, clean, shower… even brush my teeth. Losing work – because although I can do a lot from home, I really need to get into an office every now and then, and that’s without all the screenings and interviews I’m missing. And hell – I’m watching the seasons change from my windows, unable to experience them. Another 18 weeks of this?
“Is it really £10,000 to have the operation done privately?” I asked, because that’s what I’d discovered a few months ago; it’s the reason I haven’t had the procedure performed already.
“Oh no,” said the surgeon. “It’s only £3,500. I’m actually doing two operations this very afternoon.”
Well, there goes that empty credit card.
So I’m getting the operation in a fortnight or so, which is a billion times better than February. I’ll be on my feet a few hours after the procedure – known as a lumbar microdiscectomy – and back to work a couple of weeks later. It’s major surgery but I only need one night in hospital, and the surgeon informs me it’s a really standard operation he wouldn’t be worried to have himself (unlike brain surgery, his other speciality – hence my being referred to him about my noggin a few months ago by mistake!).
I am going to be the happiest patient IN THE WORLD. I’m annoyed I have to pay, but very thankful I can. If I’d been self-employed but unable to work from home, my life would’ve been totally ruined by now… I bet the NHS ruins lives every day with its ridiculous waiting lists.
The amusing thing is that, according to my surgeon, apparently four and a half months isn’t a long wait. HOLY CRAP!
Anyway, in a few weeks I’ll be able to write about things on this blog that aren’t complaints about my health or kittens. Hurrah! I can experience the world again!