Dr Marion the Second
February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
I make a return visit to the fearsome, don’t-bother-me-unless-your-head-is-falling-off Dr Marion. I’m her first appointment of the day and I’m anxious not to make her run late. The fact that I acknowledge that I’m not sick, nor trying to be, from the start seems to cheer her. There is a whiff of a smile on her face as her hand beckons me towards the chair. This is new. I once spent a consultation standing in my coat as she scoffed at the pain in my shoulder and dismissed me within ninety seconds. Her new-found friendliness increases my feelings of guilt for being there. It seems wrong to be about to request several blood tests that will cost the NHS somewhere in the region of £300 to process, that I will send on to a private clinic and pay them for fertility treatment.
I am braced for Dr Marion to shout that the NHS is not a charity and is not there to supplement my desire to be a mother. I expect her to suggest a night on the tiles at the local Yates’ Wine Lodge and have done with it. I am even more embarrassed that one of the tests is for my blood group which, at the age of 36, I don’t know. It stands as a sure fire sign that I have never given blood. I feel like I have walked into the surgery with a megaphone declaring the number of times I have walked past the mobile blood bank outside the library and thought another day.
What can I do for you? Dr Marion asks. I thank her for making the referral to the clinic and tell her that I’ve been for the first appointment. There’s probably some tests that they need, she guesses. I don’t even have to ask. I’ll understand if it’s not possible, I tell her. Her hand bats the thought away as I hand over the follow-up letter that I received from Mr Xin a few days ago, writing what a pleasure it was to meet me, confirming everything that was said, and the tests that would be needed. The majority are fine, Dr Marion goes on, and prints off a computerised slip and a bag for the samples to go in, along with a leaflet listing where I can have the blood taken. They don’t do blood tests at my surgery, it’s up to you to arrange one with another clinic on their behalf.
The difficulty is the blood group one, Dr Marion says. I knew it. It’s penance for ignoring the blood bank. I’m tempted to pull out my donor card and shout look, heart, lungs, kidneys, corneas, they’re all yours if I get run over tomorrow. I know that I should already know what my blood group is, I tell Dr Marion. There’s no reason why you would, she replies. They just don’t do blood group tests on the NHS. I ask if there’s any way around it, that I would be happy to pay for it, but that’s not possible either, apparently.
Dr Marion drums her fingers against her desk. She looks like she does when you’ve got a chest infection and she tells you to buck up and take some buttercup linctus, but her frustrated discontent does not seem intended for me. The only blood group tests done on the NHS are antenatal ones, Dr Marion tells me. What? I ask. For women who are pregnant already, she explains. Her fingers drum some more and her eyes stray on to the list of surgeries where blood is taken, and she suddenly brightens. Here’s what we’ll do, she says decisively. Make an appointment at one surgery for one lot of tests. I look down at the form, progesterone, FSH/LH, rubella, HIV. And I’ll do a separate form for the blood group one, Dr Marion says. I’ll tick the antenatal box and you’ll just need to book a separate appointment at a different surgery.
I am taken aback. And then clarify that she wants me to do what I think she does. You want me to go to a surgery for a blood test and pretend that I am pregnant already? Yes, she nods, conspiratorially. It does not sit easy with me. I have never been much of a rule breaker. When Mum would insist Lucy and I still under five when we were actually heading for eight in order to avoid paying the child fare on the bus, I was always wracked with guilt and prayed for forgiveness. Mum’s sister, my Aunt Clara, once took us to a country park and wanted to hide me, Lucy and my cousin Sam under a blanket in the back seat to save paying for all three of us (scams ran in the family). I refused, despite knowing that we really couldn’t afford the admission fee and paying for me would mean no ice-cream for any of us.
A nurse thinking that I am already pregnant for a whole five minutes while extracting blood from a vein in my arm brings me out in a cold sweat.
I see Dr Marion glaring as if she can read my thoughts and this time, I know that her stern frown really is intended for me. She is scarier than Mum or Aunt Clara. I mutely nod and shakily take the second slip and I know that I cannot let Dr Marion down. I will do it. The thought of not doing it scares me even more and emphasises how much I really do want this. I thank Dr Marion profusely and quickly after I leave, before my resolve is lost, I make separate appointments with two surgeries on the opposite sides of town. I feel a certain thrill as I imagine that at one, someone will think that I am already pregnant.