Ok, not literally. But I may as well have.
In the last five months, I have been to the doctor’s, I’m guessing, the same number of times I’ve been during the rest of my life. Slight exaggeration but I’ve totally been on average twice a week.
The receptionists now know my son’s name. I know the good places to park. I’m starting to recognise other ‘regulars’ who nod at me as though to say ‘you’re one of us now’.
I didn’t even realise it was possible to be a regular. It’s like the world’s worst pub – I see the same people I have to make small talk with, you don’t get served in the order you arrived, there are never enough staff, the air con doesn’t work, the toilet is always busy and it always closes too early, but you don’t even get alcohol and it’s closed on the weekend.
I know the adverts on the little TV screen off by heart but I still jump every time that train hits that little girl stopped on the tracks with her bike, I have to turn away when the Facebook story of the boys who played chicken comes on and don’t even get me started on the ghost smoke fingers warning against lung disease.
I’ve read every leaflet in the waiting room, including the surgery handbook, which is really just some A4 sheets of paper in plastic wallets, and ironically I know as a result that I’ve definitely spent far too long waiting for appointments.
I know how many appointments were missed last month (144 – seriously who are these dicks that are booking appointments and not turning up and causing people – me – to wait for ad hoc emergency appointments?) and I know the receptionist (Brenda) has a 13 year old daughter who has gone from being ‘such a lovely girl’ to ‘a right little madam’ (her words, not mine) but is ‘beautiful so she can get away with it’ (other fellow regular patient’s words, not mine).
I even have the out of hours process down to a fine art to the extent that I was able to tell the operator where to send me for an on call appointment after she’d snottily tried to tell me I couldn’t see a GP ‘because it’s bank holiday, you know’ (like my boobs should have known to wait until Tuesday to contract mastitis).
You might think at this point that I’m a hypercondriac or that either my son or I am quite ill. Neither is the case – turns out there is just a lot of crap when you have a baby. And honestly I really could have got by with half of the visits if some of the doctors had actually listened to me, but that’s another story about baby reflux which we don’t have time for today.
I know the ‘rules’, i.e. when the appointments open up, the best times to call, how to quickly get a repeat prescription etc. With this also comes the knowledge that the reception staff have some majorly rude patients to deal with and that at least once a month I will receive the backlash of this (Soz you’re having a bad day Brenda but I don’t think telling me to come to the surgery every morning next week with my baby in tow on the off-chance a GP will be able to see me on one of those days is a good answer as to why you can’t give me an appointment until 2045).
Luckily I’ve got a good reputation at the doctor’s. I turn up on time (no mean feat with a 5 month old and something I struggled to achieve when I used to only have to haul my own arse there pre-baby), I am polite to Brenda even when she’s being a bitch (though I did complain about her once after a particularly unpleasant encounter) and I make small talk with the doctors. Plus I have a baby who loves being the centre of attention in the waiting room, so he’s a big hit.
But it would be nice to not have to go just for one week. Brenda and co will wonder where I’ve gone when I go on holiday and I’m pretty sure I must have made the invite list for the Christmas party. Well if I haven’t, I’m sure my baby has!