I’ve been cursing the turn of the month and the annual arrival of bees up the nose which are a fair indication that the start of a winter cold is upon me.

Those bees really went for it. By day two they had made their way into ears and throat and had started to become a bit of a nuisance. No matter how much I coughed they weren’t going anywhere. They’d settled in to ensure a generous level of infection. It wasn’t honey.

By day four, doubt crept in and settled. Should I get a Covid test? Probably. Better to be safe than sorry. So I went on line and booked it. Within the hour I was at the gates of the walk in test centre.

It all went smoothly until it didn’t go smoothly. It didn’t go smoothly.
“Just follow the instruction,” she said.
“I can’t see them.”
“The thing is, I’m not allowed to help you. You have to do it yourself. Hang on.” Then she vanished.
“We don’t have any braille,” she said when she returned.
“I can’t read braille. I’m more of a large print girl myself.”
“I’m not allowed to help you and we don’t have large print. I don’t think it’s going to be possible to do the test.”
“Well how about you just talk me though it step by step.”
Hats off for an extremely efficient description at every step of the way.
Thumbs down for the assembled staff providing an audience and a site “Mighty” manager who was “just the contractor” and indifferent in his dismissal.

The advice leaflet that comes with the self-testing kit, at the walk in centre, helpfully suggests that if you are having a problem you should “use your vehicle hazard lights and wait for someone to come and assist you.” I should have brought one of the Grand’s “nee nah” toy cars. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. You can never lay your hands on toy with flashing lights when you need one.

While I slept, those bees got to work and there was no putting it off. I limbered up for a Vivaldi experience. A Vivaldi experience, is the hours that anyone calling their local GP practice will spend on hold as they snake their way up the telephone queue.

I’ll skip the bit about the Care Navigator and go straight to the Nurse Practitioner. If I thought I was having an off day, it was as nothing compared to the day she was having.

Once we’d got over the challenge of describing where to go and how to get there and settled on how she would be able to tell that I was me, we fixed a time for her to “have a listen.”

The rattle rattled and then I stuck my tongue out. “Oh yes, I can see that your tonsils are very red,” she said and took a step back.
“That’s odd. I don’t have any tonsils.”
“You must think me really unprofessional,” she said as more humiliations followed.

The mask of efficiency had slipped. What was revealed was a humanity in our exchange that altered the encounter from efficient coolness to warm, and from warmth to satisfaction.

I cannot help but reflect that so much of the way that we “care” for our health is, ironically enough, delivered without thought to our individual differences. Covid has put the tin lid on it. Government accepts the recommendations to make health services accessible to everyone, and that includes the Covid test. We need something beyond the “Mighty” roll out of testing.

Illness is hard enough without having to stand your ground. Not everyone is as bloody minded as me.