I’ve had something of a bumpy take-off to 2022. I managed to fall foul of the dreaded O2MLMP, the far from scientific term for one too many leftover mince pies. It knocked me for six but in the end allowed me to discover what our NHS has to offer.
I have spent many mornings on the radio listening to complaints from people unable to secure an appointment with their GP. I didn’t hold out much hope. Some listeners have told me they’ve made over 300 calls without the phone being answered. I was delighted to hear a receptionist on the 14th attempt.
Forty minutes later my doctor phoned me. I was impressed and reassured but far from cured. A prescription was issued and almost immediately I began to feel better but a couple of days later the symptoms had another rattle at me and on this occasion with the 12th call I was through again to the surgery. Another detailed conversation and this time the golden ticket. I was invited to visit the practice.
I was given orders to park my car close to the building, remain in the vehicle, flash my lights and sound my horn with two beeps and a hoot and the doctor would come out check my temperature and whisk me along her hallowed corridors to the curtained couch of cures. Okay!
I’ve exaggerated the car park routine but there was a strict Covid protocol, and it led to a very smooth delivery of service. It also does away with the worst part of the appointment, the time spent in the waiting room. There was no pretending I had been glued to Sky News or no need to suggest I was impressed by Horse & Hound magazine and most delightful of all, no red flashing sign spelling out everyone’s name.
Sitting in the car should be retained long after we’ve shown Covid the door.
The wait in the car was just long enough for me to relax and prepare to talk openly to the doctor about all the ailments and worries any middle aged bloke would have. The more I considered my pains and aches the more l felt like driving away but that would have been foolhardy and reckless.
I needed to lift my mind from the possibility of hokes, pokes and blood tests so I reached for the dashboard book. I always have one just in case I break down and I have to spend the night snowed in on the Glenshane Pass or indeed whenever I might be parked outside the GP’s.
Thankfully neither has ever happened before but the book came in handy. It lifted my spirits and it also peppered my mind with things I never knew.
I should have known the first player to score a goal that proved decisive on the away goals rule in a European Cup game was Eusebio and he was playing for Benfica in 1967 amazingly against Glentoran.
I also discovered the book’s author used to live beside a family called Smith in Belfast and when they were children, they would play a game in the garage called The TV Quiz. Other children would be the contestants but the author would be the quiz master and young Paul Smith would be the cameraman. The very same Paul Smith, when he grew up, went on to develop and produce Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
If you get a chance, you should read it, the autobiography of one of Ireland’s finest broadcasters, George Hamilton from RTE.
I was halfway through another tale when the tap came to the window. The doctor awaits! I stepped out of my car but I could have been climbing off a tricycle. I revert to being a child when I’m the subject for a medic. I had no need to be worried. She was confident, professional, courteous, kind and exceptionally busy. No complaints about the GP service from me.
Frank presents U105 Phone In Monday-Friday from 9am-noon