I have driven across to Dundee to see my consultant. The road was reasonably busy but as I predicted there are gaps in the mass of cars parked outside the hospital so I was able to park nearby without the usual £2.20 cost. My hands are cold. This might be because I haven’t eaten much today due to my mouth ulcers. It might be because the heating was off at home and I’ve spend the last few hours before leaving sitting in front of a couple of computers working away on a website. It might be because I have taken two different types of blood pressure lowing drugs, though I have a feeling reducing the pressure should mean the blood travels easier through the network of vessels. Of course being cold may also mean that I am not wearing enough clothes to combat the temperature. It’s only my hands though so it is okay for the moment. Anyway the heating is on in the hospital where I am waiting (is it ever off?) so I should warm up soon.

The drive across was fine traffic wise but I could have done with the pain in my right-hand ring-finger. I knew it wasn’t going to be a great day when I woke up to find I couldn’t bend the joint the ninety degrees required to touch the finger’s pad to my palm. Well I guess I could have make the touch but I didn’t want to endure the pain. The finger was painful when I was typing and using a mouse on the website design, though it seems that the smaller keyboard and relative lack of movement on my laptop isn’t as bad as the desktop; perhaps I was stretching too much. Driving across, the affected joint tended to be resting on the steering wheel or pushed against it when I tightened my grip on the rim. I found myself trying to stick my lower fingers out so they didn’t get the bending pressure applied, but this puts more pressure on the upper fingers and I didn’t think it would be useful in the long run.

I look at the clock when I arrive in the hospital. I have twenty minutes before my official appointment time but since it is probably at the end of the clinic, I suspect I am going to have to wait awhile. I go and peer around the paper shop. I don’t want to buy anything to read really and after glancing at the newspaper headlines, music magazines and photographic magazines, I return to the sitting area and sit down. It is a strange thing sitting down amongst a spread-out group of strangers. There is no obvious gap in the space to fill and people to stare at me, seemingly challenging me to sit somewhere else but I choose a seat in the middle of three empty ones. As I sit down people no longer look, perhaps since the excitement is over, but more likely because they don’t want to catch my eye so that I can start an unwanted conversation. The British do love their privacy. I too feel the need not to look at those around me but instead do the opposite and briefly study the people opposite me. It seems important for me to know my surroundings.

Seated I debate whether to write or draw. I have a sense that people are less intimidated if I draw but I consider my finger and decide that typing may be easier on it (on later consideration, I am not sure that was correct). I start typing this account knowing that I will have to stop and go to my appointment soon. I get two paragraphs done before packing up and leaving for the clinic.

I hand my appointment letter over to receptionist who then asks me to confirm my address and GP. After a brief stint seated (plenty of free seats in rows so no need to look at faces) I am called to be weighed (it would be interesting to know what it was without all the stuff in my pockets) then told to go and sit around the corner. There are plenty of people around me, so I deduce I am going to be waiting for some time. Instead of getting my laptop out and continuing, I cross my arms and close my eyes and relax. My mind floats between strange dreams (with dubious decisions) and tuning in and out to the voices around me. I discover I am sitting right by my consultant’s door so there is a good chance he knows I am there and will pick up my notes when the time comes. After waiting over forty minutes it turns out I am wrong. Two patients later and my consultant can’t find my notes because somebody else has picked them up. He does ask me about my swallowing and a few other things before I am called by the other consultant. My consultant is smiling, relaxed and chatty – there is no sign he is treating me any differently than he normally does and I am glad he took the time to say something.

Since it is about 5pm when I leave, I drive home in the dark, relieved to have missed the rush of traffic wanting to get home at the end of a day’s work. I eventually find a position on the steering wheel where the palm of my right hand and the top two fingers and thumb take the weight of the driving grip, it is better but not ideal. I muse upon the number of things I do that are affected by my swollen finger from pouring a cup of tea, to walking the dog, from playing the recorder to driving the car; life is going to get challenging if this gets worse or spreads. It is rather gloomy I suppose but then I remember that my eldest child pass her driving test today. As I reverse onto the driveway I realise that for the last few minutes I have been content. It would seem that my anxiety over meeting my consultant again is over now, as logically I knew it would be; if only my emotional self could be so clear.