Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Power of the Written Word

I send a lot of emails.

Every day I send emails. My job means that I deal with a range of different people and have to constantly make judgements about the tone of voice I use. Depending on who I am emailing the tone ranges from the impeccably professional to the cajolingly joking; the demanding to the subservient; the apologetic with a sub-text of 'but it wasn't really my fault', to the reprimanding with a 'but don't let this put you off your job forever, you do usually do a great job'.

Today was one of the hardest. And I've done disciplinaries before.

I emailed the clinic about getting this bloody (or will be soon) coil put in (and more importantly the endometrial hyperplasia out).

My wonderful NHS-working twin tracked down the email address of the named individual who is supposed to be booking appointments, so I had the right person rather than simply emailing: "genericaddressthatnobodychecks@fertilityhospital.com"

Every word was scrutinised and re-edited. I wanted to come across as friendly, slightly deferential and worthy of help, but was also keen to point out that this was just the latest round of waiting that would test the most patient of patients.

I agonised about who to cc. As a rule I don't like cc-ing, it makes me feel like a sneak, but in this case I thought that the Doc and fertility nurses should know what I was suggesting. And yes, it might provoke a quicker reaction if they know a Doctor is looking over their shoulder.

And I wanted to be proactive.

I wasn't going to just email "Ugghhh, why won't you answer my calls it is sooooo unfair!" So, thanks to Betty M's suggestion I got in touch with my local family planning clinic and had tentatively booked the next available appointment for the Mirena coil to be put in by them (the 24 of August). I presented this as a easy option for them, "I've sorted out getting it in, which will give you three months to get your shit together enough to book the appointment to get it removed and my womb re-biopsied". Those weren't the exactly words I used but I think my meaning was clear.

At 19.37 tonight I missed a call from the nurses, yes at half past seven in the pm. The message explained she had just picked up this message from last Thursday and she was going to try and get me an appointment but the Doctor was away next week and the week after so it would be after that, in September.

I tried to call back but the phone was engaged.

At 21.22 she rang back. By this time she had read my email.

What a difference that made.

I now have an appointment to get the coil put in at 2pm tomorrow.


And now, I feel guilty that the nurse was at work returning calls at half nine whilst I was in the pub getting my ass whipped at ping pong by Caroline, No.

But it does go to prove the power of the carefully worded email.

And no, I am not going to cancel my appointment with the Family Planning team until the coil is well and truly embedded in my uterus.


  1. Hurray for the carefully worded email! I usually use those strictly to get free stuff after some company or another has offended me. It never occurred to me that your NHS might respond to that sort of thing. Congratulations!

    (I suspect, though, that your sympathy is misplaced regarding the late hours...the nurse probably works the evening shift. But, I am cynical - maybe she was on vacation and her replacement was useless and she was trying to make up for it. Anything's possible.)

  2. Well played, m'lady; way to get yourself taken care of!

  3. Good Lord it worked.


    I shall ask for tips, next time I have a tricky spot of NHS bothering to do.

  4. YES! Amazing what a little artful nudging can do, no? It's just unfair that it must come to that. But honestly...September!?!? Tomorrow is much better. Glad she saw reason.

    (And I don't thing CC'ing is sneaky...blindly, CC'ing now that's another story...but I'm not above it when push comes to shove).

  5. Well done!! The written word and a doctor looking over their shoulder = action!

  6. Good on you. Lucky you were in a position to encode and deliver the message. Phew! Stressful waiting bit, over (or so I really, fervently hope).

    (Surely you shouldn't have to have years of writing experience/degrees/diplomatic training to get a straightforward appointment? Eyeroll.)

  7. Progress is a good thing! Now hopefully NHS will actually follow through and get it in today!

  8. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You shouldn't have had to go to such lengths to get an appointment in the first place.

    Hope that it's now in place, and that you can go ahead and cancel that appointment with the family planning clinic.

  9. Guilty, sod that, it was a great result. As was the ping pong. Re-match whenever you dare. x

  10. Way to go! That's a delicate little line you walked.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!