This is the usual drill:
I take a number from one of those machines that are normally located by Deli counters. Assuming there is space I sit on a hard plastic chair, and whiling away the time playing guess the illness from the jaundiced look of the other patients. And trying not to sit too close to the more contagious-looking folk.
Eventually it is my turn, my number gets called and, in a room with five or six other victims, I get blood drawn whilst a nurse chats to her neighbour barely registering my presence. I leave pressing a bit of cotton wool to my wound and await a massive bruise that will appear within 4 to 8 hours.
Today it was quite different. One of the tests I needed had to be done at a private clinic. I don't know why, it was testing my AMH, and maybe this is a more specialist test. So I was sent to a clinic on a street adjacent to Harley Street (a street that was once associated with the finest medical care in London but now has connotations of dodgy plastic surgery piggy-backing on its illustrious reputation).
When I went into the reception both of the young women stopped talking and asked me if they could help.
The floor was carpeted and wall papered. I'm use to medical establishments making everything wipe clean to get rid of all those nasty bodily secretions.
And in the waiting room, the waiting room that has sofas, they have this month's Vogue rather than a copy of the Metro that some germ-ridden invalid has left on their chair forcing you to choose between boredom or an infectious tropical diseases.
There was no bruising from the efficient, yet caring, blood draw, and when the nurse (in the private room) asked me about my day and wished me a pleasant remainder, she almost sounded genuine.
However, despite the added creature comforts and the luxurious surroundings, it all seems a bit unnecessary. I felt almost nostalgic for the NHS.
The NHS is infuriating and slow and not 'customer-focused' but the NHS gave me three free IUIs, are on the cusp of giving me a couple of IVFs and even paid for my trip to the other side. So they might not give me all the creature comforts of a private clinic, or answer the phone, or give me explanations. But fuck it, what counts is the end result. (Mind you if it all goes tits up I'll be back here bitching).