Rolling with chickpeas

I’m writing this post while rolling a can of chick peas under my right foot.
Yes, I appreciate that sounds like a very odd, vegan eating, Guardian reading kind of thing to do, but it’s medicinal.

Let me explain…

Last year, over the first May Bank Holiday, a group of us spent the day walking in Epping Forrest, in the rain. How very British of us. By the end of our hike, my right foot was in agony (no idea why, there was no incident), so I was very grateful when ‘magic fingers’ Rachel offered to massage it. Thing was, when her fingers touched my skin, it turned out I could only feel them over half of my foot.

The mysterious foot numbness lasted a few weeks. A health professional was consulted, it was apparently temporary, and feeling would soon return. They were pretty much right, except that 8 months later, I still have no feeling in my little toe.

If only I’d known, the morning this photo was taken, that it would be the last time I’d have feeling in my right little toe…

It’s at this point I should mention that googling your symptoms is NEVER a good idea. Foot numbness is (amongst other things) an early indicator of MS, so that was a little worrying.

There is a longer version of this story, but given that it involves 3 GP visits; 2 blood tests; the discovery of a lump in my other foot which necessitated an x-ray and an ultrasound (it’s fine); and an MRI scan about which I freaked out considerably, I think a shorter version will suffice. Basically, having exhausted all the more serious avenues, we’ve now decided it’s a matter that requires physio and potentially orthotics for my shoes. No biggie, I have simply inherited my father’s rather odd legs and feet.

So, I now have a physio, who’s hilarious. Bless him, our initial consultation over the phone while I had a stinking cold. In such circumstances, my voice sounds, well, hot – he seemed somewhat taken aback when my answer to the question “What’s your occupation?” was “I’m a trainee vicar”. Needless to say, I think he was a tad disappointed when I turned up at his office on Friday. Thanks to the efficiency of Camden NHS, I have a podiatrist appointment for a week on Friday (which gives me under 2 weeks to find out what a podiatrist actually does). It’s all good.

And the chickpeas?

I need to massage my foot daily. The physio suggested I ask someone to do this for me – I imagine he was insinuating my significant other would be a good candidate for such a job, but I don’t have one and it seems rather inappropriate to ask the intern lodger – however, it’s possible to massage one’s own foot, so that’s fine. But if you’d like to volunteer your services, that would be good too. I’ve been told I have particularly soft, attractive and non-smelly feet, so it shouldn’t be particularly gross.

He also told me to roll my foot on a can every evening. His suggestion was a baked bean can – but I don’t have any, so it had to be chickpeas. It’s incredibly therapeutic  but I can’t help thinking I’m going to look a little strange if I take it with me to the next Vicar Weekend…

Thank goodness for the NHS

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had more contact with the NHS than I’ve had cause to have for a couple of years. Two visits to the dentist (for one filling & a tooth filing – fun); one trip to my new GP; one prescription; a series of blood tests; and an x-ray.

I spent less than half an hour – in total – waiting for all these appointments and tests. In fact, my dentist is so good, I was out of the chair 1 minute after my first appointment was due to start, because he called me in early. Even the dreaded walk-in blood test clinic involved no more than 5 minutes waiting. (Usually, such trips are like visits to the most boring and painful deli counters in existence.) The longest wait was for the x-ray, but that seemed to be because I’d never been a patient at the hospital before and needed to fill in even more forms.

The total financial cost of all of this? £56.10 – and all bar £7.60 of that was spent on my teeth.

It’s at times like this that I am inordinately grateful for the NHS. I walked into my GP’s surgery with a list of ailments I wanted checking out. I didn’t need to worry that the cost of any treatment I might need would be prohibitive to receiving it. (Unless I happened to need a vast quantity of prescription meds.) I even got to be a guinea pig for a med student, so I was doing my own bit for the education of future generations of doctors.

If only more doctors looked like this…
On Saturday, I read an article about a student in the US who’d just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. [Not going to lie, the reason my eye was drawn to the article was less about the topic and more about the fact that the image that accompanied it was of George Clooney in ER, c.1997.] It explored the cost of her disease and stupid, innocent, British me, thought that the article would explore how it’s affected her physically. But no, it was about the financial costs and it was horrific reading. The medical bills for the hospital stays and tests that resulted in her diagnosis amounted to $13,246.53. I barely understand the workings out of how this was covered, but clearly she was lucky to have good insurance. 
The thrust of the article was that she now faced the dilemma of how to remain insured, as a soon-to-graduate postgrad and as someone no longer eligible to be covered by their parent’s insurance. It’s terrifying that dilemmas such as whether or not to be uncovered for 6 months, just to qualify for a particular type of insurance, have to be faced. Isn’t someone’s health more important that an insurance company making money? But thus speaks the voice of someone raised by the NHS…
What terrified me even more was the fact that none of the comments on the article complained about the state of US healthcare – they simply accepted it and provided helpful hints for generic medications or insurance loopholes. 
Why oh why do Americans accept this state of affairs? I know that’s a massive generalisation and that many are fighting it, but why aren’t more people? Why are people against Obama’s healthcare legislation that enabled those who couldn’t afford healthcare to have it without financial worries? But, perhaps most importantly for those on this side of the Atlantic, why oh why is our current government so determined to destroy one of our country’s greatest social assets? 

Jaw ache

Illness is (fortunately) something of a rarity in my life. However, it does appear that I’ve had more than my fair share of totally random ailments.

Childhood illnesses included scarlet fever and slapped face virus alongside the more usual mumps and chicken pox. In 6th form I sprained my shoulders and (exactly a year later) an ankle during trampolining lessons. Today, I discovered that what I believed to be a ear infection was in fact a sprained jaw.
Yes, you read that correctly – a sprained jaw. Somehow, without even realising it I’d sprained my right mandible, I think that’s a pretty impressive achievement. (Make no insinuating comments about how I might have caused it please…!)
My Doctor was very sweet in his diagnosis, even demonstrating the problem with a model and teaching me some Latin terminology. (I’m thinking that his bedside manner is possibly what resulted in my appointment being 40 minutes late, but he’s so lovely that I didn’t really mind.) This is a man who on my last visit (2 years ago) declared “you seem like an intelligent woman, do some research and decide what you want to do and come back and tell me” – in response to me asking how best to treat an ongoing issue.
He also berated me for not seeing him more often – but really, why would I want to subject myself to hours in a waiting room full of really ill people and the Jeremy Kyle show the only source of entertainment? (In fact, even if the TV’s not on, you usually get a live version acted out in front of you.) Having the NHS for free doesn’t mean you should just pop in to see your GP for a social visit (or am I missing something?).
I’m rambling, apologies. But one more random comment about this trip to my GP’s – I spent part of the time waiting having a catch up with my friend Claire, who just so happens to be the Community Midwife there. Honestly, this is an utterly random occurrence – we’ve known each other since we were 16, and she ended up being midwife in the area just before I moved here. Our friends find it hilarious that should I get pregnant in this postcode I’d have her looking after me…I’m not laughing. [She’s a lovely friend, but I don’t think you want someone you already know doing that for you!]