THE GREEN DIARY : Sunday, 17 May 2020.

NOTES FROM THE COUNTRY

Yesterday we drove into London. The first time there and away from Mistley for 64 days. 

During this time no-one other than us has set foot in our home here.

It was strange; rather like going back to boarding school; a feeling of foreboding; of leaving something familiar and going somewhere strange. Certainly our anxiety levels were raised.

I had to have my knees X-rayed and Tony had to have a blood test, Tony at the Wigg Clinic in Kentish Town and me at UCH on Euston Road.

We drove there. The A12 was reasonably clear though not as clear as we had imagined. There are a lot of lorries and vans. The M25 was uncongested, plenty of space, no hold ups, again lots of lorries, vans and trannies. The M11 was free; but the North Circular was as crowded as usual. We turned off and went into central London via Tottenham and Seven Sisters down through Holloway with traffic diminishing all the time. Tony dropped me at Lawrence corner near UCH and drove up to our flat in Kentish Town, unvisited for 64 days. 

I walked down Hampstead Street, across Euston Road into the hospital. It was eerie. Just empty buses going up and down Tottenham Court Road.

Everything was empty. The hospital was empty. I was greeted at the door and cleansed. I was allowed in the elevator with one other person to go down to Imaging. We were both wearing masks.  We separated after exiting the lift.

At the entrance to Imaging, for X-raying, CTC, MRI and other scanning, I was cleansed again. There was one other person in the waiting area. Reception asked for my Doctor’s Order and to take a seat.

I waited precisely two minutes and was taken through to the X-ray department. Apart from the radiologists and other staff there was no-one about and no sign of much activity. Clearly the public are staying away and it occurred to me that now would be a good time to need medical help or treatment for absolutely anything unrelated to Covid-19!

The Doctor’s Order was dated sometime in early March but because of lockdown it has been impossible to travel to UCH. I have a suspected torn meniscus which the radiologist said would not show in an X-ray, can you believe? Arthritis? Yes but torn menisci? No. For that I’d need a scan. Soft tissue you see, not bones. 

I asked if he could arrange a scan right now since the place was empty and there was no-one else waiting. 

Not allowed. X-rays must go back to my doctor who will then assess whether I need to see an orthopaedic specialist who would then conduct the necessary scan by invitation. I would have to wait for that department to send me an appointment. 

The radiologist admitted it was convoluted, a waste of time but that it was all to do with the “internal market”. That X-rays are cheap (though, in this case ineffective) and that my practice, the Caversham Practice, had to regard their budget before committing to sending anyone for any scans since these were much more expensive.

What to say? Not a lot. It speaks for itself does it not? So I await the next stage. In the meantime there is quite a lot of discomfort and pain.

Tony in the meantime was up at the flat. I walked out into the sunshine and caught an empty bus north to Kentish Town. No entry at the front and the fares are free – to protect the driver, understandably.

I alighted at Prince of Wales Road and phoned Tony to drive down to the Wigg Practice to do his “bloods”. That is all they do there on a person-to-person basis otherwise its all telephone appointments.

After “bloods” we drove back with the roof down in the sunshine, stopping in a layby for a sandwich and orange juice, that I had lined up for at Tesco’s earlier.

Tony found the flat dusty and untouched. He saw our neighbour Paul who works for Reuters. Paul has never stopped work and goes into town every day on his bike, I think. Apparently he’s the only one at the office so no-one minds.

We were back in Mistley by 2.00pm; very quick. 

It was a strange day. We were glad to be home. Everything felt odd, out of kilter; we were both a little depressed I think.

It must have been tiring because we slept a solid ten hours.

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