Posted by Oli on Wednesday 11th July, 2007
Boy, annual reviews are depressing.
I’ve never liked the yearly MOT, ever since it was my only trudge over to Oxford every 12 months as part of my shared-care arrangement with Northampton Paediatric Unit (not an uncommon arrangement for PWCF, especially children), when it was marked with endless hors of waiting around and pointless questions from a doctor who you see but once a year but spends their brief meeting with you asking the sort of intimate question you’d struggle to find the courage – as a child/teenager – to answer your own doctor about.
Seriously, how many 14 year-old kids are going to sit in a consulting room with their Dad and answer anything but “No” when the doctor says, “do you smoke”? Obviously, I never have, but there are those – even with CF – who do, and it is critical to their ongoing care that the doctors are aware of something like this. Asking in front of Dad is not the way to go about finding out.
As the year’s have gone by, and the process has moved from being an annual schlep to Oxford to being just another clinic appointment with my adult team at the Churchill – and one that’s marked by a good deal less waiting and a good deal more friendliness – it’s taken on a paradoxically much more unpleasant feel to it.
If progress were marked on a chart – and with many areas of CF, it actually is – the over-riding theme of annual reviews is to watch the graph slip-sliding ever so slowly downwards in an ever-decreasing mountainside style.
This year, I suppose it reached it’s nadir – there isn’t a whole lot lower to go, and compared to last year, things look pretty (‘scuse the French) shite. It’s hard to stay upbeat and positive when you’re looking back at a set of results which at the time were immensely disappointing, but for which now you’d give your proverbial eye teeth.
(By the way – can anyone tell me what eye teeth actually are and why they’re called that? It’s dead confusing. Answers on a postcard, kudos as a prize…)
There are moments of levity in the experience, though, things which I suppose I must cling to, although all of them come firmly in the category of “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry”.
Take the psychological survey, for instance, an 8 page document quizzing you on how CF affects your quality of life (or QOL as they like to put it), with the kind of inane multiplle choice answer boxes like A Lot, Not Much, A Bit, Not Really.
“Does CF affect your day-to-day life?”, “Does CF prevent you from doing the things you want to do?”, “Does CF affect your relationships?”. A monkey could answer these for me right now.
What did make my nurses laugh, though, was my minor fit of pique whereby I simply crossed out the entire section devoted to “social life and socialising”. I wish.
I now have to wait a few weeks and head back for an ultrasound scan and then to see my doctors, who will have all of my results and can sit down and take me through them. Can’t wait for that day – it should be a barrel of laughs.
Anyway, I’ve had enough of bleating about the awfulness of annual reviews, my chest and my life at the moment – I’m going to go and plonk myself on the sofa in front of a good movie and forget about everything. Until I remember it again…