Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Just A Firestarter, Crazy Fire Starter

I have neglected this blog somewhat because I've had several publishers of anthologies who want me to submit work, and can't write for fun when I need to channel all this nonsense into work. I have also been resting up because I have had lots of dull hospital-related things to attend to the last couple of weeks.

It started when I had to go for a pre-dietary-clinic-appointment blood test. They are always busy in the afternoons so I had to go during early AM hours. Well, early for me. Because I have been rather nocturnal of late I had to stay awake overnight and not sleep at all before the blood test at 9:30. I was fine until 6am when I'd usually start to think about sleep, so I began watching Ghost Whisperer to keep my mind occupied. It worked, but one of the episodes was set in a hospital, and Melinda (the medium) is approached by lots of dead patients - and another addressed the early days of exploring her gift when she still wasn't able to tell who was real and who was a spirit by just looking. I didn't have a problem with this until I got through the doors of the hospital and - feeling rather woozy and spaced out from sleep depravation by then - I convinced myself that not all the people I could see were real, and that I had better try and ignore the ones I considered to be suspect phantoms. Sat in the waiting room I was trying not to acknowledge an old woman in a purple bed-jacket, because she didn't look well and I thought that she might have been a candidate for 'walking dead.' (I realised I might be wrong about her when she took a ticket, but there was a middle-aged man with a strange moustache who I also tried to ignore.) If you make eye contact with people in those places they feel that a sort of shared-hospital-experience gives them the right to talk to you, and I didn't want to look mad by talking to an empty chair if he was really a ghost. I thought in the end that it was better not to talk to anyone, but kept thinking of the line from Sixth Sense: "I see dead people," and giggling for no apparent reason - trying to stifle it and just looking like I was having some kind of seizure.

When it was my turn to see the phlebotomist and have blood taken, I entered the little consulting room and immediately felt inadequate. She was a bronzed, blonde, incredibly pretty nurse in sexy naval uniform. It was like something out of a cruel Fedde le Grand music video - juxtaposed over some sort of awkward, ugly-duckling teen movie. I expected to trip over and end up in a humiliated little heap at her feet as I spilled a bag full of tampons and flashed mismatching underwear. Fortunately I made it to her chair without such a display of inelegance, but then made myself look like I had nefarious intentions when she routinely asked me to check my name and D.O.B before she drew blood. That would have been fine under normal circumstances when I have had enough sleep to remember that on my hospital records they use my 'official' name, but at 10:45am after having been awake all night, I just couldn't remember it. Eventually I blurted out the right combination of Kate/Katie-Sue/Katrina Lawrence, and stumbled over myself to try and explain that I am not thick - just have been called so many different things in my two-and-a-bit decades of life that I had forgotten which version was on her bit of paper. She accepted the story with the sort of understanding (yet simultaneously pitying) sigh that suggests she had recently done a psychiatric rotation, and proceeded to prepare for the blood test. She didn't need to prepare me - she needed to manoeuvre herself into position; which given how tight her uniform was meant a lot of wiggling and adjusting while she complained that the dresses must have been designed by a man, because they did not accommodate "real women with real breasts." She then went on to demonstrate exactly how little room she had in the garment; making me feel even more inadequate as she pointed out all the places where the fabric was straining.

So there I am: sleeve rolled up and tourniquet slowly turning my hand purple, gazing down the heaving clevage of a stunning south-african who thinks I am either a psycho or a terrorist, while trying to ignore the little boy clinging to his mothers legs in the other phlebotomists chair because I think he may not be real.

This is not THE nurse: but a jealous-brunette's approximation. (I am also not searching "sexy nurse" with Google Safe-Search off again. That is not what she did to me with the needle...)


On the way out Dad and I were squirted with alcohol-gel in an anti-MRSA drive - run I am sure by the women who spray you with perfume in John Lewis - and they were no less over-zealous in their efforts with the disinfectant moonshine than they are with Paris Hilton's latest fragrance (which probably smells just as much like paint stripper.) The fumes from the gel were bad enough, but dad decided to wipe the excess off his hands and onto my hat. That was tolerable until he decided to stand over me and light a cigarette. I don't appreciate nearly being set on fire by someone who looks like a cross between Jason Lee and a dip-dyed Jesus.

The week after that I had the now-infamous-and-immortalised-on-film Nutritionist appointment that told me the blood tests were fine. As ever, the Consultant was a bit odd. When he had done all the boring medical stuff he explained that he'd traded me with a psychologist colleague of his, in exchange for her services with another couple of patients. He said she'd heard about me because of the funding project I'd been part of 3months ago, and had taken a look at my notes. She wanted me to participate in some study she's running regarding body-image and self-esteem issues that occur in patients who experience illness and/or major surgery in their teenage years. She's interested in me because I am "slightly atypical." She has enough screwed up people, and is interested because I have never needed counselling, and don't appear to have too many major hang-ups. (Apart from being too short, too skinny, etc - but that's dissatisfaction with being plain, not medically related psychological problems.)

The nutritionists explained that they'd agreed to "lend me to her" in return for her letting two of their 'effed up patients onto her regular counselling list. He told me he didn't think I needed her help, but that it would be useful if I could let them know what I thought of her style, how she interacts with patients and generally review the service she provides - because she's an expensive shrink and they want to be sure she's worth the funding! The consultant was, as usual, his less than PC self - despite best efforts to the contrary. When explaining that I wasn't going to be a "patient" of the psychologists, he said: "You don't need to be under her care professionally because you're not, well, how do I say this... Bloody mad!" I said I think I am a little bit, and he told me that in his opinion I am "perfectly sane." I don't think that telling the room full of dieticians and nutritionists that I was disappointed and wanted a second opinion was the reaction they anticipated to a diagnosis of sanity.

Dad gave me a lift home, and we went to get a cup of tea in the canteen so I could tell him what they'd said. Now, I am not quite sure how it happened - because by then my brain had given up and I was pretty knackered - but I found myself sitting in the canteen of the Queen Alexandra half-finished-super-hospital, eating spotted dick and custard after having been to a clinic full of anorexics, chatting to my father about monkeys that had gotten hooked on sponge cake by David Attenborough. Somehow, it was generally accepted as being my fault.


On the way out, after being accosted by the germ-crusaders (whom we were this time far more ready for,) there was a tramp in the car-park who saw dad light up and asked for a cigarette. Dad offered him one of his menthols and the guy turned it down, because he said he didn't like them. He's a tramp! He had blood on his t-shirt and he was wearing a coat with so many tears in that it was more like a 'hole occasionally interrupted by coat.' No one with that much oil and mud on themselves should be in a position to be that choosy over his path to lung cancer.

I've pretty much been asleep since then, but I did look out of the window when I woke up today to see a woman leaving the bingo hall with a goldfish. (Not accompanied by a giant goldfish, just carrying one in a water-filled bag - like you used to get at the fair before the RSPCA complained.)

It's comforting to know that however unusual the circumstances I find myself in actually are - it's the rest of the world who are mad. I am officially not.