Weekly Shocks' Blog

The Trolls in My Skull and the NHS

Late last night, in a desperate attempt to avoid doing any work at all, my brain snuck out on me and ran off to enjoy an extended holiday in California. Usually, I’m OK with this: Brain has escaped before, but he always returns much more relaxed and cheerful, a little brown around the edges and usually with some good stories about his adventures on the beach. Lucky bastard. This time, however, Brain has sublet the space between my ears to a pack of miniature trolls who work in construction and they are currently trying to renovate my skull by drilling holes into it. I have, in short, the worst headache of my life. It’s so bad, I’m seriously considering urgent, insane remedies such as auto-decapitation or going to see a doctor.

The NHS frightens me. Part of this, I admit, is due to sheer, stubborn American snobbery. Nationalized health care is a strange, bizarre world to someone who grew up in the Newt Gingrich Nineties and believed that the biggest threats to American national security were welfare moms and that stain on Monica Lewinsky’s dress. I’m getting better at overcoming this, but the jackknife spirit of those times tore a gaping hole into my fragile, young psyche, so bear with me.

Beyond my skittish fear of the specter of socialism, however, lies a genuine concern: the NHS employs lots and lots of insane people. I live in Oxford, so I’m used to insane people by now, but I’d really prefer not to have them poised above me with needles or prescribing me suspicious drugs, ointments, and unnecessary procedures. A couple of years ago, for example, I badly broke a toe that wasn’t healing properly and was developing a nasty, painful infection. In my very measured, calmly rational way, I decided I had developed gangrene, so I stumbled off to my local health center to see if they couldn’t just lob the thing off and nip the problem in the bud before bits of me started falling off in lectures and seminars. Actually, I wanted to see if the toe would need to be re-broken in order for it to heal properly. It didn’t, but the good doctor who attended me sure tried to convince me otherwise. Our conversation went something like this:

Insane Doctor: “Well, I guess you don’t need it re-broken, but maybe I should do it anyway.”

Me: “Why?” (I thought this was a reasonable question at the time, but keep in mind, I was in a lot of pain, so all kinds of things seemed reasonable. That’s how I ended up under the NHS’ care in the first place.)

Insane Doctor: “Well, I’ve never done one before, and it would be good practice.”

Me: “…”

I actually considered it for a moment just so I wouldn’t appear rude and/or disagreeable. Living in England does strange things to your sense of propriety. Luckily, the remaining voice of sanity in my head whispered that letting this man break my toe “for good practice” probably wasn’t the brightest thing I could be doing, so I eventually declined, but it was touch and go there for a while.

Isolated incident, you say? Au contraire, my friend. I stumbled across this blog post made by a poor woman who apparently tried to get simple antibiotics for strep throat before the infection had run its course! The nerve. And apparently, tens of thousands of surgeries had to be postponed last year due to inane reasons like disappearing surgeons, or – and this is my favorite – a lack of razors to shave patients with before the procedure. Brilliant.

So, perhaps now you understand my reluctance to visit an NHS doctor and have him interfere with the Skull Trolls’ reconstruction plans. Besides, these hardworking new tenants of mine can keep me company until Brain gets back from sunny Cali. I’m really going to have to have a word with that lazy, sneaky, sun-tanning bastard, though. He owes me big time.


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  1. * Emily says:

    i actually had several posts about our adventures with NHS. although i think the u.s, needs to cover more people, NHS is a disastrous system.

    Posted 9 years, 2 months ago

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