So the doctors have confirmed that it was a stroke. My second in six years. Hey ho – life goes on.
Thanks to this diagnosis (and shoulder surgery) the outmoded, overworked and underpaid wheels of the NHS turn; booking me for a gazillion scans, stroke-rehab and physio appointments. Suddenly there’s a big queue of people who all want a piece of me … or a syringe-full, or a swab, or a scraping, or a very intimate shufty with a torch.
There’s clearly a standard set of questions used by the medical profession when assessing a stroke victim – I know this because I’ve been asked those same questions, all in the same order, on at least a dozen different occasions. I can recite them from memory.
Those questions are obviously geared more towards the typical (dare I say: older) victim than I. An obvious one is “are you mobile enough to get yourself to the toilet?”. Yup, peeing solo, thanks for asking. But the one I like the most is “can you make yourself a cup of tea?”, which rather suggests that being able to make a brew is a basic human function (certainly if you’re a red-blooded Englishman, by Jove) and you’re not enjoying an acceptable quality of life if not.
When Euthanasia becomes legal in this country, I wonder if that will be a metric on the questionnaire: “Granny can’t mash a cuppa, you say? Okay, switch her off!”
Another question is “are you suffering from any short-term memory loss?”. Trust me on this: the medical staff have heard all the jokes before. Answering with “who are you, again?” won’t get you a laugh. It’ll get you re-admitted.
With this in mind (ho-ho), let us now rewind to last Tuesday for an appointment with my GP.
My wife left work early on that day to come and collect me. Such a Nice Lady. She helped me into the car, strapped me in and closed the door, drove me to the GP and winched me back out. My GP (nice enough, but seemed a bit young for a doctor. Is it just me or are they getting younger?) prodded my bruised bits, pruned some stitches, asked me about my bowel movements and typed a lot of things into one of those infernal computer-things on her desk.
After that the Nice Lady drove me to a garden centre, where we looked at some expensive things in pots and then had an expensive lunch. I chose something that I could eat with one hand – something that didn’t need any combined-knife-and-fork action. Something that wouldn’t take much chewing.
After the Nice Meal, the Nice Lady drove me home. I had some pills, and then fell asleep on the sofa in front of Bargain Hunt.
So … when a nurse asks me about memory loss, I look at my life at the moment and must ask: am I really thirty five, or eighty five? And was that Nice Lady who took me for the Nice Drive in the Nice Car to see the Nice Young GP really my wife … or my granddaughter?