Room 101

While generally immersed in matters of public health you may like to know about my visit to my surgery recently.    A little ‘tongue in cheek’ but basically the following is how it went.   The surgery is fine, but maybe public health service employees are a bit overworked?

I arrived at the surgery ten minutes early for my appointment.   Nothing important really; a cholesterol check – but when you haven’t been inside a surgery for nine years you are understandably preoccupied with the anxiety that this will be the termination visit – the one where you are found to be ‘falling apart’ in all bodily functions and advised to go home, finish any outstanding diy, and wait for the inevitable – which would not be long coming.  I wished I had brought a book to occupy myself, and distract me from the rain and wind outside – surely a portent of things to come – when another patient arrived. He brought his bicycle in with him, its’ wet tyres making neat patterns on the worn carpet, and announced to the room that he wasn’t going to ‘bloody well leave it outside for the yobs to take’.  Several heads nodded in understanding and I noticed that the two receptionists were not going to argue.   He then parked his bike across the doors to two adjoining examination rooms and I waited with some excitement to see what happened when those using them came to leave.  But the fun was spoilt when he left as quickly as he had arrived, scraping the waiting room benches as he went and knocking into an elderly woman, who responded by swearing at him.   Not a place for the faint hearted, this surgery, and I made a mental note to practise a fierce expression for the next time I came – if there was to be a next time.   The receptionist informed the room that he had come on the wrong day, and the several heads nodded again.   A potentially difficult situation had been avoided by a mistake in reading an appointment card.  It could happen to anyone, but I was guiltily sad that no-one had tried to leave the consulting rooms before the bike was moved. 

All this, and the interesting sounds of an argument between a bus driver and a jaywalking pedestrian coming in through the open door, distracted me from hearing the unintelligible intercom system that summoned individuals to their place of treatment.  I had noticed, with some apprehension, that at four or five minute intervals a steady procession of men, women and two children were called to Room 5.   What was going on in Room 5?   Obviously not ante-natal, or a bunion clinic, and I didn’t notice them coming back – but that was probably because by now I had found a Maplin brochure in which to lose myself and my anxieties.   Then it was my turn, and also to Room 5!   Perhaps it was where everyone got the ‘bad news’ – but that didn’t seem right.  

I followed the arrowed signs down the corridor, and then to the left.  Immediately I came into a small room with only a nurse in occupation, and not the group session that I had imagined.   Funny, isn’t it, that when you are anxious you tend to make jokes to ease the tension?   Well, I just said that judging by the number of people coming up to Room 5 and not apparently coming back, it should be renamed Room 101.There was a silence.   Then, “I called you a long time back”.  I thought this strange as my appointment was for 10.25 and it was now 10.28 and I had not arrived until 10.15.  Were we all meant to arrive at 9am?   I muttered a sort of apology, saying that I had difficulty in understanding the intercom due to noise in reception, but my attempt at defusing the tension only seemed to make the situation worse, and I could see from the jut of her jaw and piercing stare into my face that I could be in trouble here.  

“Have you kept to the 12 hour water fast?” 

“Uh, err” 

“You HAVE fasted for 12 hours?”.  

“Sorry, I was not told that”. 

She clearly did not believe me and had decided I needed to be put in my place.   

“What did you have for breakfast”  

 “Nothing, except a cup of tea.” 

“What was in the cup?” 

I wanted to say “a tea bag and water” but decided against it. 

“Just tea with milk.  Skimmed milk.” 

“So when did you last eat?”

“Last night.” 

“Yes, but what time last night?”

“Oh, about 6.30pm”. 

“Nothing since?”


“Why don’t you eat breakfast?”

Now that one floored me – I didn’t have an answer – and didn’t see why I should explain myself.   Lack of eating breakfast wasn’t likely to increase my cholesterol and didn’t seem relevant – but another look at that face and I did answer.

“Because I don’t usually eat breakfast.”.

Another silence, and then a curt order “Roll up your sleeve”.

“Which sleeve?”

The needle was hovering and I decided to roll up the nearest sleeve before it was inserted through my shirt.    It was over in seconds.  Two strips of extremely sticky plaster were stuck fiercely over the maximum number of hairs she could find on my arm, which was several thousand.  I stood up to leave.

“One minute.   What is you date of birth?”   I gave it to her.   All was not well.  

“That is not what it says on this form”. 

She tapped her biro on the desk top in a way that reminded me of a long forgotten school teacher.   I stood accused.

“Well, it can’t be changed now or you will not get the correct results”. 

 I was about to say that I had a name as well as a birth date, but the interview was over.   

“Tell Reception that it is wrong and must be changed”. 

This was not a request, not even an M & S request.  The next patient was being called before I left the room, and my ‘Goodbye and thank you’ received no response.  The Receptionist asked “Have we made you older or younger?”


“Right, if it had been younger we wouldn’t have changed it” and there was a smile in her eyes.  Nice to see a smile.  But there again, if I had been sticking needles in people’s arms every five minutes since 8.30am I would probably have been a bit short tempered too.  If the results are OK maybe I won’t have to go back for another ten years.                


2 Responses to “Room 101”

  1. Delila Says:

    That’s so funny! I could write something worryingly similar about my trip to the baby clinic!


  2. oberon92 Says:

    Pleae do and send it in when you have time!

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