I had been feeling a collection of weird, disparate symptoms for a few days. Extreme fatigue, some spells of dizziness over the week-end, at times a slight burning sensation when breathing in, an ever-present taste/smell of something.. chemical (only later I thought it might be blood). It wasn't getting better and yesterday morning I spat a big spoonful of blood (which is a bit worrying) so yesterday I went to my local surgery. I know that to be seen on the same day you have to be there first thing early in the morning but I couldn't do that, so I went as soon as I came back from my teaching day in Watford. The receptionist (if that's what they're called) tells me she can only give me an appointment for a week and a half hence. Then she asks what's wrong with me. I told her. She told me to wait there, went in and out came a female doctor telling me off for not having gone first thing in the morning and turning up when there were no appointments available. She asked me to follow her in. So I did.
I explained my symptoms to her, she asked me lots of questions, took my blood pressure, examined my tummy, chest, etc then phoned UCLH telling them that she had a male, 60, non -smoker, HE'S NOT AN ALCOHOLIC (she did stress that), vomiting blood (cue sound effects of flavio in the background going 'but.. but.. I didn't..) and sent me on my way to get examined at the A&E.
Once there, I didn't have to wait long before having to answer the same questions again to one doctor, then another one, while having my blood taken, x-rays of my chest done, blood pressure taken again in a variety of ways and a few other things. This whole thing didn't take more than half an hour, perhaps three quarters. Then I was told to go in a cubicle and wait for the results. Which meant two hours of waiting, feeling that I was wasting NHS time while seeing vastly more serious situations around. Eventually (with some prodding) one of the doctors turned up again with his boss (his words) who asked yet more questions (there seemed to be a Chinese whispers effect in that the story changed and got more dramatic as it was retold from one of them to the next) and was told that there was nothing major wrong with me but 'do go to your GP if you still feel ill'. The whole episode took from 5 pm to 9:30.
I did find out, out of this, that I have high blood pressure (historically I always had slightly too low BP but of course I'm not that young any more..) and have to do something about it. They didn't find out what the blood and the other symptoms were about; I have the feeling that they are not really connected but have different sources.
Also, I was wondering, with all the 'he's a male this age but is not an alcoholic, does not smoke' thing, whether you get treated differently if you do smoke and drink -I expect you get the whole wagging of moral finger and guilt applied liberally to you.