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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You MIGHT know how to ease my pain. Possibly.

So I went back to the doctor.

The problem with going for a late morning appointment (which I had to do because I needed a shower; after which I needed an hour to recuperate from the effort of having a shower) is that delays have really set in by that time.

My latest theory is that the combination of maintaining the waiting room at the approximate temperature and humidity of yer average tropical rain forest, and forcing you to wait for 40 minutes on an uncomfortable chair next to someone who apparently considers the Sherbert Dip Dab Lolly (do they still make those?) to be the last word in sophisticated parfumerie is actually all part of a Cunning Plan to reduce patient numbers. After all, it's not an experience you'd voluntarily put yourself through unless there was something fairly seriously amiss.

Oh, and have I ever mentioned the fire doors? Two of the buggers. On those very strong return springs which mean that, unless someone goes to the effort of closing them Very Carefully, they slam really hard. Which makes me flinch. Every time. Although there is some entertainment to be gleaned, I admit, from covertly observing one's fellow patients and judging from their general demeanour whether they will have the courtesy not to slam the door. Given time, I may even come up with a useful and informative chart showing the correlation between various items of clothing and consideration of other people. And, believe me, semi-transparent white capri pants worn over ghastly thong knickers and accessorised with gold creole hoop earrings from H Samuel are not doing well in those particular stakes. Oh no.

But I digress. Several centuries after first arriving at the surgery, I am eventually called in by the nice young doctor. Personfully fighting against my middle-class conditioning (the conditioning which makes you say, "Oh, that's lovely!" to the rogue hairdresser before running round the corner from the salon and bursting into appalled tears), I told him the truth.

He wrote me a list of the different stages of analgesia on one of the many spare pieces of green paper which are regularly spat out by the printer when it's been ordered to print a prescription, but it doesn't feel like playing ball. He likes lists, does this doctor. I've noticed this about him before. I bet he's got one of those Post-It "To Do" sticky pads on the fridge at home. Maybe he's on Tramadol, and has never got past the blurriness?

Anyway, the upshot of this list is that Tramadol is the least harmful of the opioids and therefore the one whose possibilities have to be exhuasted before anything else can be prescribed. So he's doubled the dose to the maximum 400 mg a day. Which means, unless my calculations are out, that I'm now taking 31 tablets a day. He's given me a sick note for four weeks and told me that I've got to allow the higher dose the full four weeks to take effect before concluding that Tramadol truly is pants. In light of which, I've decided that all the misery and weepiness has got to stop. Right now. Because it's really not good for me.

One of the problems with being effectively incarcerated in one's own home for weeks on end is the number of regular appointments one is forced to break. It's over a month, for example, since I should have been for my annual eye test. Doubly annoying because I have an absolutely fab new pair of frames for the lovely Mr Blankstone to glaze for me.

Worse than that, though, is the fact that it's now twelve weeks since I last went to the hairdresser, with the result that I can barely see out. That fringe is so tickly it's driving me mad. Of course, I could take a pair of scissors to it (after all, it's not as though I'm out and about and seeing people - the fact that I can't cut hair straight wouldn't result me in being pointed at in the street. Well, no more than usual). But I'm now rather intrigued to see what will happen next. And, frankly, given how ill I look, the sooner it grows long enough to hide the dark circles under my eyes, the better. (I don't actually have a shower attachment growing out of my head, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.)

That's a very odd photograph all round, really. Not only do I seem to have rather carelessly mislaid my ears, but I'm also doing an uncannily-accurate impersonation of whichever one it was out of Thingummy and Bob who didn't have a little pointy hat.

The Editor


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Editor

Being, as I am, a great afficionado of good grooming and couture, perhaps you would allow me to take the scissors to your fringe (that's "bangs" to our colonial readers).

I have become somewhat skilled in the art of self-coiffure, having not myself visited a hairdresser during the last 12 years (as you may have noticed).

You only have to ask.

Your affectionate colleague


8:53 am  
Blogger marmiteboy said...

Blimey. I didn't know your were once a Beatle!!!

I've not seen you with such longness in the front before.

9:04 am  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Well at least he has given you a time-scale. I suggest you make an appointment now to see him on the date of expiry of that time-scale; you can always cancel if it turns out that the Tramadol is not pants after all.

Were you unkind enough to ask him where you go once the maximum dose no longer works adequately? It might be useful to think about that in advance. A doctor who makes lists about the stages of analgesia should also know that it is not a good idea to let pain build up to unbearable levels before doing something about it. The time to hit it is as near to the start as possible. So you don't want any hiatus between the Tramadol and the next drug.

Are there any alternative therapies that work for you? I mean paid ones. Some people have been lucky enough or stubborn enough to get a GP to prescribe osteo, chiro etc on the NHS. Which in your situation I would think eminently justifiable.

Are there no peripatetic hairdressers in your neck of the woods who can visit you at Bracknell Towers and apply a bit of hedge-trimming (or I have a strimmer that the Dude can borrow if you decide to take advantage of his kind offer)? Come to think of it, I am sure that there is a Home Optician Service available on the NHS.

At the moment you are effectively housebound. Contact your local Age Concern or Help the Aged about services like the above available in your neighbourhood. You don't have to be an old crumbly to take advantage of them.

10:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you considered a perm?

11:11 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Don't think I don't know who you are.

Or that I haven't realised that you're just trying to goad me into publishing a photograph of me from when I did have a perm.

11:15 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Is it worth trawling the internet/yellow pages/local paper/etc for a hairdresser who does home visits?

I'm certain they exist, although I haven't had to use one yet.

11:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a man with a clown wig.... at least I think it's a wig!

11:32 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I realise that your advice is meant well, and intended to be helpful. However:

1. The capacity no longer exists at my surgery to book appointments in advance.

2. Assuming the Tramadol does turn out to be pants, I'd need to see him that day anyway for another sick note. So it's very unlikely that I'd put off going.

3. I am given to understand - possibly wrongly - that the great benefit of Tramadol in comparison with the other opioids is that one doesn't build up a tolerance to its analgesic effects. Which is not, of course, to say that my condition won't deteriorate over time to such a point that I will eventually need something stronger, but that day really shouldn't be imminent.

4. I have been paying for osteopathy for 15 years and feel not the slightest resentment at doing so. My Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit funds the treatment. I've been treated by enough osteopaths in my time to know that I absolutely would not want a change from the chap I've been seeing for the last 9 years. Any referral from my GP would be to an osteopath who has managed to get him or herself affiliated with the NHS. And mine isn't.

5. Ditto hairdresser. Ok, so my hair looks like crap at the moment. But only because it has grown out. I can live with it being too long much more easily than I could with it having been butchered by someone who isn't familiar with it. My hair is difficult to cut and looks absolutely vile if cut badly.

6. There really is no urgency at all about that eye test, other than my desire to show off the frames I bought from ebay to my lovely optician. Who is also waiting to see my investiture photos. I enjoy going to see Mark. It's not a chore, and I wouldn't like to miss it just because I was stuck at home and suddenly decided I couldn't wait any longer for an eye test.

The Editor

12:27 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

In other words, MYOB. Okay.

5:27 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Okay, how about these ?

(they are purple...)

9:11 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Oddly enough, I was doing a very similar ebay search myself earlier this evening.... ;-)

10:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps some indoor examples of the chapelier's art may be appropriate until such time as a visit to the hairdesser is accomplished?
Or a Tank Girl-style ushanka.

1:57 pm  
Blogger seahorse said...

I have considered, but not yet taken the plunge with a mobile hairdresser. I look like the wild woman of the woods. One top tip. Your Sainsbury's online will take an order over the phone so you don't have to sit at the internet if it's too uncomfy. They do the typing, along comes your shopping. I am learning to get mine delivered for when a visitor is around to help unpack.

12:04 am  
Blogger fluttertongue said...

Your description of the microcosmic anomoly that is the doctor's waiting room filled me with empathy and giggles. Like you, I can only book an appointment on the day, which is fabulous if I happen to discover some sudden and vicious affliction but not so if I find it difficult to be awake enough to spend half an hour listening to an engaged tone at 8.30 in the morning. One of the slightly more disturbing features of my surgery's waiting room is that they blast Radio 1 in at all hours. I have thought long and hard and decided that the doctors have not had ill enough patients to know what to do with and they find that, by a. consistently failing to see you until 45 minutes after the appointed time and b. filling your already aching head with dirgy music they can get you to a state where you are ill enough to prescribe a pill or refer you elsewhere.

To add insult to injury, despite having been to the surgery more times than your average sickly toddler I am asked EVERY TIME whether I am sexually active. As if this singular fact could explain all symptoms known to man. I wonder whether they ask all their male patients too...

11:43 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Oddly enough, that's one thing they don't ask me. Possibly because they think that someone with such severe lower back pain is unlikely to voluntarily take part in anything so jiggly.

No, every single one of my health problems is attributed to my weight. And always has been, even when I weighed half what I weight today. Now, don't get me wrong: I know it doesn't help. But I don't honestly believe it gives me flu, either.

12:07 pm  

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