19th June 2023

So pleased with myself, I was this morning. We’d gone to the Post Office and returned without delay. For once I was ahead of things. Well, maybe not ahead, let’s not get ridiculous.

However I was staying abreast.


But, I had come home with a thick envelope of paperwork. Questionnaires from the spine specialist I shall be seeing next Monday.

When I am a bit below par, as I was last week, I get a little concerned over the state of my spine. It is, after all a degenerative condition.

So periodically, I feel it ought to be inspected.


Picking up the phone, I dialed the number expecting to get an appointment in December, perhaps.

That would be fine, I could put it out of my mind for now.

There is no reason for it, but I always feel intimidated by specialists. By December, though, I would be mentally prepared.

So I got an appointment June 26th.


Then this morning the lethargy from last week had departed. Every time this happens I forget all the worrying twinges and joint weaknesses and want to put off doctor’s appointments.

However what with Covid, it has been some time, so best to check in.


What I did not expect was 16 pages of paperwork that needed completing.

This took me over an hour.

You wouldn’t mind but each page has to be annotated with your name and birth date. Printing all of that 16 times is really very boring.


Technology being so very smart, could they not bring up the forms, insert your details and then print your “package”?

A trivial matter, unless you have arthritic fingers which make writing a process that must be done very slowly and precisely in order for it to be legible.


If you have the sort of medical file I do, moving to a different state involves much time finding new specialists.

Transferring records is the easy part.

For each new practitioner, the same new patient form must be completed.

Which includes your history back to your first hangnail.


You must enumerate such things as surgeries. This information you are expected to fit into two lines.

Printing in miniature is a particular challenge for arthritic fingers. And who remembers all those dates?

Approximations have to suffice. What difference could it make?


On to the pertinent information and those perishing meaningless pain scores.

Any time I am in a doctor’s office, I am like the car you bring in to be fixed, only for the problem to spontaneously resolve.

It is hard convincing a doctor that you sometimes experience a lot of pain when currently, it is absent.


How long can you stand? Walk? Sit?

It depends. It varies for goodness sake.

When do you experience the pain?

All day? Most of? Sometimes?

Maybe I should check all the boxes because at times all are true.


The pain diagram:

An outline of a body, measuring 3.5 inches in which you must indicate each area with a symbol: // ** ^^ OO II for stabbing, burning, ache, pins and needles or numbness.

Sometimes I could decorate the whole diagram and I have one that is not on offer: Wet. My feet often feel as if they are wet.


Year my deformity was first noticed?

By a doctor in 2005.

By me in 1961.

Can I help it if people didn’t listen?

OK, OK, no need to get defensive!


The practice I shall be going to got all my records back in 2018, so I didn’t see why there was a need for this great interrogation, but the format is now more extensive, different sets of questions for neck and spine.

As well as questions about GAD: Generalised Anxiety Disorder.


One could certainly result from the other, but nowhere do they allow that the depression might have preceded the spine problems.

The GAD form included is one I have filled out many times and I was happy to note that my frame of mind appears much improved.


Over and over in my mind, I’ve been practicing a speech for the upcoming appointment. This is something I always tended to do before meetings but it didn’t seem very effective so then I tried going in unrehearsed.

The words “babbling” and “idiot” come to mind. So it’s back to square one.


Deep breathing exercises.

Speak slowly. State your case briefly.

Let him take it from there.

As ridiculous as this will seem, I prefer surgical appointments over office consults.

10 thoughts on “Preparing

  1. I think, Carolyn, that you should write a comedy tales for some TV comedian. A neurotic woman
    researching her speech for her consultant benefit, sort of like Frank Spencer American style. Your musing is funny but is it intentional?!


      1. Thank you, Carolyn, for being so kind and good-natured!

        PS. Today is Yoga Day, Music Day, and Solstice. To celebrate all three, my cat Felicity and I are doing yoga, with me chanting “Om”, her snoring musically, and
        me reverently facing the sun.

  2. My sympathies! I fully understand the “When did it start?”, “What sort of pain is it?”, “On a scale of one to ten how would you rate……?” After a few times it all blends into a huge mess and you begin to doubt your own symptoms and memories!

  3. While your medical problems are nothing to laugh at, your style of writing is so entertaining and it really makes me chuckle. Plus, it helps me to see that you too go nuts with all the repetitive forms that need to be completed. My question is this: if you have to fill out all your symptoms on the form, isn’t that what the doctor is supposed to diagnose? If you tell him all of this, when what do you need him/her for?? Giggle. Anyway, thank you for the fun narrative and I hope your doctor visit goes well next week.


  4. My oh my, 16 pages! Maybe it would have been good if the appointment was only in December – plenty of time to fill in all those pages! But sometimes it’s also good if something like a dreaded specialist appointment can happen as soon as possible. Good luck and don’t let it overwhelm you too much – look at your beautiful blue sky photos instead!

  5. Wow, 16 pages! You’d think with the advancement in technology and especially databases that this could all be pre-filled…honestly, some things never change.

    My partner’s mother (we’re her 24/7 carers while in the UK, although she doesn’t need it at all), gets herself worked up for months in advance to see any kind of medical staff. I’m the type of person that just gets on with it as I want it over and done with, so try not to waste precious energy stressing about it in advance. We’re all handle things differently and sorry to hear you get stressed out… 🙁

  6. When I moved from London to Norfolk, I approved the transfer of my medical records from my London Hospital and family doctor. That was done seamlessly online, and I have not had any issues since, including not having to manually authorise any paperwork, Full marks to the NHS!
    Best wishes, Pete.

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