She didn’t get up but indicated the chair for me to sit in. I sat down. She introduced herself and I said how nice it was to meet her. Given the circumstances, I might have happily lived into old age and never felt I’d missed out by not meeting her.
“Now I’ve had this nice letter from your doctor. It’s says your suffering with your eyes.”
I raised my eyebrows. This was probably not the moment for sport but I couldn’t help myself. “No”, I said, sounding suitably bemused.”
“Well it says here that you’ve got a problem with your eyes. What I need to know is if you can see my face.”
In view of the fact we were both wearing face masks this seemed a bit of a wasted question. I didn’t say so. “Is that right? Are you suffering with your eyes?”
“I’m not suffering. There is no suffering involved.”
“But you do have a problem?”
“No, the problem is not mine,” I spat. “The problem is largely other people”.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth I felt a strange mix of satisfaction and regret.
“I’m projecting of course,” she said. “If I couldn’t see much I would be suffering. It would be a problem for me but I can see it’s not a problem for you. But you see, what I need to know is if you can see my face.”
“You think you do, “I persisted tipping into rudeness. “ We’ll only end up in an existential exchange about what the gold standard of being able to see a face is. Since neither of us has any idea of what the other one understands by seeing a face it’s a hopeless conversation so why don’t I just tell you the snell score and you can look it up later. Shall we move on?”
We moved on.
When the copy of the letter she had written to my GP arrived, she had taken the time and the trouble to send me a large print version. Considering I behaved like a terrier, never missing an opportunity to take a bite at the deficiencies of my treatment, I may have to revise my opinion.
When the follow up appointment letter came, that too came in large print. My only complaint is that only half of it made it’s way onto the page. It wasn’t the first half with no second half. In fact, I couldn’t tell you if there ever was a page two because there were no page numbers and no one had signed it. Curiously it was the left side of the letter only. The right side of the letter seemed to have trailed off across the edge of the page into invisibility. How curious to take the trouble to send a critical appointment letter in large print but not to bother to check that it delivered the critical information.
It’s something I might feel the need to raise with “Miss Nat” or possibly even “a member of her tea” when I go to meet yet another stranger on Friday.
Meantime, my email in box is now swilling in emails with uploaded leaflets from Breastcancer Care and a series of NHS leaflets that have been photocopied and turned into pdfs. The trouble is that every email is entitled “Your Scan” so no hint of a clue about what’s in it. As to the pdf’s themselves, they are upside down and the wrong way round and all need page by page rotation, which does not always go according to plan.
Let us hope that this is the only confusion when it comes to the Big C.