Chronicles of the Heart – Part 10…

Right, it’s official – I do have heart failure. Or mitral valve failure, or some bloody thing!

There must be some decent doctors in the system, somewhere but, somehow, they never seem to come my way.

They did an ECG – about 5 seconds worth of trace, which struck me as inadequate – not everything will show up in that short period.

Then I was wheeled in to see the doctor who, based on the 5-second ECG, spent 15 minutes arguing that I probably didn’t have heart failure, and that my symptoms could be caused bya  number of things (no, they can’t, I’ve checked – taken all together, they point to heart failure – clearly she’s never heard of the Internet!!). With an absolutely gorgeous med student as a bonus!

Then she rubbished the hospital’s ECG, which I’d taken along because I was expecting such a denial as it would fit the ongoing pattern of fuckuppery, saying it was a computer diagnosis and she knew better (she’s a bloody GP with a cardiology hobby, not a consultant who might possibly know better!).

Anyway, computer diagnoses are only a guide and would have been reviewed by a real person, as it clearly had been from the annotations, but nobody challenged what the computer found. And ECG computers are programmed to look for specific patterns in the trace (just as doctors do), patterns than relate to specific conditions. They’re probably pretty good at doing that, as pattern-matching is something computers do very reliably.

Eventually, after rambling on for a while, she did what she should have done in the first place – listened to my lungs and heart. Frightened the life out of her, because she was expecting nothing and found a loud murmur which she said was either a leaky valve or – yes, heart failure! Personally, I’m going with heart failure – I think she threw in the valve problem because she’d been so set against it being heart failure.

Bloody stupid woman – she was probably showing off for the medical student, but all she was doing was spinning out what should have been a 10 minute consultation  to over half an hour – wonder if she gets paid by the hour?

So then she started scuffling around her desk, looking for paperwork to arrange a chest x-ray and an urgent echo. Both next Thursday, which doesn’t strike me as a particularly urgent response!

Then we escaped to the pub! We expected our usual seats to be gone (I like to sit at the end of the bar, so I can lean my crutch against the wall), but in the event the place was almost empty.

There’s one thing that bothers me, though. The doctor was officially described as a “GP with a special interest in cardiology”. For me, that is several notches below a consultant cardiologist who is highly skilled at what s/he does. So I seriously hope they have somebody highly skilled at interpreting echocardiograms on the staff – I don’t want it entrusting to somebody with a hobby!

I expect, though, that such cut-price medicine is an indicator of what the future holds as the demolition of the NHS continues. And, of course, it screws up the appointment system as these hobbyist GP’s have to fit it in with their normal practice – which is probably why my “urgent” echo is still a week way, and not happening today!

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