Friday, June 23, 2023

The 100 days.....

Our NHS is a marvellous thing and has to be protected. Most sensible people that I speak to say that it should taken out of the political  arena altogether and be run by  a cross party committee, preferably chaired by doctor rather than an accountant.

As with any large organisation, there are rules and protocols that must be followed otherwise. A diagnostic investigation could be knocked back further down the line if boxes are not ticked. These restrictions are getting tighter at a time when medicine is becoming more dependant on tests, scans, imaging etc.

This all can lead to situations that are farcical. Like the patient who should be referred for a scan ASAP. His blood count is over 4000. It should be 5. He has the signs of a space occupying lesion but would like to know where. As he has no weight loss, no x-rays within 3 months and Jupiter is ascendant through Mars, he can’t have a scan. He needs to wait until there are signs of metastasis before he can be scanned for any. The words horse and stable door come to mind.


The NHS is not under the control of Westminster.  It’s Holyrood. And it has been for twenty years or so.

On the 1st June I flew out to Gran Canaria to get a rest and get a book written. I did neither. While not writing, I tend to go swimming or walking. I found I couldn’t do those either, just really tired with the odd bout of nasty coughing. Obviously I thought I’d caught something on the plane.

When I got home, I did 5 COVID tests which were all negative. And even took a day off work, because it just felt a bit bblaaahhh. Thursday night I began hallucinating that I was in Poundland (Dollar store) and was walking round the bedroom putting imaginary things in to my imaginary basket.


On the Friday morning I started the ‘phone the GP dance’ – it can take up to 2 weeks to actually see a GP face to face, and 3 hours to get one on the phone. But I knew/ thought I had a chest infection, so presumed he doesn’t need to see me, he just needs to give me the script for anti biotics. The receptionist was lovely and said that the doctor would call me back. I was prepared for an all day wait, but he called back within 30 minutes, listened to what I had to say, and said ‘I think you'd better come down’.


So from the point of view of him indoors, he drove me down to the practice. I walked through the front door, half an hour later, an ambulance arrived at the surgery. He rushes through the doors,  thinking I’ve croaked it but alas I was still sitting there. It was the mother and daughter, both wearing croc shoes who were carted away in the ambulance, both on their feet walking. It was the same GP that was seeing me. He said the treatment room was up the stairs. I told him to go first as it might take me some time. Once in the room he listened to my chest and said – you have no chest infection. You’ve been on a flight, you are very breathless and you’re coughing up blood. …. So in a lady of your age. I pointed out that I wasn’t a lady of my age. He pointed out that the ambulance was still outside and if I was quick I could catch it.  He told me I probably had a blood clot in my lung.


So Him indoors didn’t believe me, but eventually He ran me up to the hospital where the 7 hour wait began. I crossed paths with the Croc ladies five times in all. The GP had phoned ahead to the medical assessment unit. The one thing I forgotten to mention is that I had no voice. Nothing. Trying to be understood in a busy hospital through a Perspex COVID shield was challenging for everybody. But I was processed and a venflux placed in my arm. And then I was sent back to the holding pen.

That’s when it hits home how difficult it is for the staff to do the job. There is nowhere for patients to go, the waiting area was full, the beds in the wards were full and all the examination rooms were full. More mobile patients were sent down for coffee and told to keep their phones on. As long term inhabitants of the holding pen, the crocs and I became the custodians of the patient whereabouts. A nurse would shout for X, we’d say they had gone to x-ray. They would shout for Y, they’ve gone to the ambulatory clinic while Z was in the toilet. They weren’t in the toilet doing anything it was just the only place where they could get a seat.


Young doctors came and went, I was left sitting, it took me back to the days at school when the girls who were good at sport would choose the team and I was always last. Eventually an older doctor appeared and basically pulled a chair into the corner of a corridor. ‘We can have a chat here or you’ll be here for another 3 or 4 hours.’ He was very nice. I didn’t have a clot in my lung but something much more exotic and medieval. At that point I thought he was going to bring out the leeches.

He explained that if my GP had been over 50 years old  he would have diagnosed it from the loss of voice and the cough. The paroxysmal cough – 30 minute bouts of it during the hours of darkness. And one of those diseases rarely seen because of our vaccination programs. But good God it’s now making a comeback due to the anti vaxers  not getting their children vaccinated.

I have the 100 day cough. More commonly known as adult whooping cough.  Pertussis. 

The consultant said I have it mild, having been vaccinated and being in good health. If this is mild I wouldn’t like to have the nasty version. It’s cost me money, a lot of pain and a lot of time. But if I had been at my work in the early very infectious stage I dread to think what would have happened if I passed it on to my octogenarian patients. The best they would have got was a few cracked ribs.

There was a few very young children on that plane, probably with parents who have no idea how dangerous whooping cough can be. One child with a cough like that could have infected the entire plane. Everybody on the flight home seemed to have a cough of one type or another. As for me I’m either at work or in my bed. No energy to walk the dog, no energy to write – this blog is being dictated.


The easiest thing about all this is the maths. It’s called the 100 day cough, I caught it on the 1st of June. I should be fine by the end of August just in time for Bouchercon … and another flight.

So I was released from the hospital and walked all the way down to the car park. Then the ward called me  on my mobile to go back up, and get the cannula taken out my arm.



Ps no luck for you lot at Bouchercon, my voice will be back by then. 



  1. Oy. Life's a joy. Beats the alternative...

    1. On the plus side, somebody has just invented a supermarket trolley with a handle that can pick up atrial fibrillation. With butter going up to £4 a pack, I can see the NHS being slightly more crowded.

  2. Hope you are feeling somewhat better or already and don't have to sit out (lie out) the whole 100 days...