Monday, 22 March 2010

How The Other Half Live

I left my last appointment clutching polythene bags with slips of paper attached to them telling me what I needed to get tested, and when. Most of the slips I take along to the my normal bloods centre on appointed cycle days. (Yes, I have a 'normal' blood centre, I really have been trying to get knocked up for too long).

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.

Imagine that.

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).


  1. My 'normal' blood center (which lives in a basement) has incredibly greasy and dog-eared magazines from the 80's in the waiting room. Gross! Not kidding, literally from the 80's. They also broadcast dog shows continually from TV monitors. A very strange place.

  2. I laughed hard reading this. I'm glad you got to see life on the other side, and that they had good reading material. (It's probably smart that they're testing your seems to be the test they look at more and more instead of FSH, but it's not infallible either).

    Incidentally, and quite possibly inappropriately: it's funny how reading material can vary from place to place. According to my husband the porn at the second clinic we went to was far and away superior and "classier" than that provided by Clinic #1. I didn't delve.

  3. I only wish I had a normal blood center. I can only hope that Alan, my blood boyfriend who has the touch of a vampire angel, will continue to be my phlebotomist. I'll take that improved reading material. I'm too spooked to touch anything in my clinic and am just one squirt from a purell bottle short of being called OCD germ freak.

    While my FSH numbers rocked, my AMH numbers were more telling. With any luck you get good results from a good experience.

  4. So basically here in the states we get the NHS service for the private clinic prices. LOL.

    I'm guessing your bruising is from the vampire phlebotomist, but thought I would throw this out there just in case...make sure you don't bend your arm after the needle is taken out as it pools the blood and causes bruising.

  5. The NHS, much as we moan about it, is a wonderful thing, sure wouldn’t hurt for some of the care providers to be given lessons in smiling and it sure wouldn’t hurt to have your blood taken in a private room and not have to watch the overweight, sweaty guy in the chair opposite slowly crumple to the floor after he looks at the insane amount of blood being drawn from you to satisfy your FS.

  6. Unfortunately,I have nothing but dismal stories to tell about NHS and more surprisingly about "the other side" as well.After one very painful hysteroscopy(courtesy of the NHS) and many many many ultrasound examinations, neither the NHS nor the fancy private consultant managed to diagnose my Asherman's.Neither did they spot my MTHFR mutation which could have caused my 18-week loss.

    I finally gave up on the British healthcare system and went back to my native country(Turkey).It took the consultant literally 2 seconds to diagnose my Asherman's and MTHFR and operate on my Asherman's as well(for one third of the cost in the UK).

    I'm now in the process of cancelling my private health insurance in the UK and setting up a new one in Turkey.NHS? I'll never set foot in an NHS hospital/GP ever again.

    I just want to say that sometimes the end result have A LOT to do with what happens during the process.

    I hope the NHS proves me wrong in your case.

  7. Although I have had my moments with the NHS I also appreciate how much they have done for us over a relatively short space of time. We were lucky enough to get one cycle (and hopefully an FET if the cycle doesn't work) courtesy of the NHS so, like you, I'm feeling positive about it(until the cycle and FET don't give us what we want!)

  8. It's great fun when no one can find your vein! :)

  9. As someone in the USA I really like reading about NHS and the differeneces (and in some cases similarities) to my health care and insurance.

    I'm thinking of having AMH done if this IUI is unsuccessful. Crossing my fingers that you have good results :)

  10. Very funny, Womb, very funny.We fair weather NHS-lovers.

  11. That place sounds like a spa. Too bad you can't get your AMH tested more often.

  12. Ugh.. the blood draw clinic sounds horrible! I thought it was bad when my clinic just called me into a closet with a strange man to get my blood drawn the last few times. I guess I can't complain anymore. At least I got to wait in a comfy chair with a current magazine.

  13. Hmmm... AMH, huh? That's a new one to me. I'm getting some blood drawn tomorrow; I'll have to ask for it.

    It's funny how even though you have your NHS to deal with, I feel that we here in the states are consistently 5 years behind you guys in terms of latest-and-greatest medical care. Guess that speaks pretty poorly for us!


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