Apparently the Queen's Surgeon may be going to save my life. Any chance it's George Clooney? – Susan Morrison

Susan Morrison takes a call from a very nice NHS consultant ahead of cancer surgery – while slightly tipsy after ‘two sips’ of gin

Susan has a soft spot for George Clooney but the sight of scrubs now makes her roll up her sleeve and avert her eyes (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Susan has a soft spot for George Clooney but the sight of scrubs now makes her roll up her sleeve and avert her eyes (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

The NHS is terribly keen on the word ‘popping’. Staff are forever asking you to ‘pop up’ on examination tables, even if you’re eight months pregnant, or ‘pop down’ to collect a prescription from a pharmacy three time zones away or just ‘pop across’ to cardiology for a minute, even when the queue is longer than the line outside Tesco.

So, I wasn’t that surprised to get a phone call asking if I could ‘pop along’ to the Royal for pre-surgery assessment.

OK I said. I like this new NHS. Back in the day, you saw a GP, they referred you to a specialist, they got their secretary to make an appointment in a letter which would then be given to a carrier pigeon, which walked. Now it’s all high-speed internet, phone calls and action this day.

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Off we went. I took the husband. He enjoys a trip out. And he’s good at not going into a complete meltdown because you haven’t driven to a hospital at all, but a building site. Of course, I got lost. I blame the NHS for having such high expectations of my abilities to retain information, or at least write it down.

We should have stuck with the old letter system. At least I could wave that at people like a paper white flag.

The nurse was, of course, wonderful. This one is from New Zealand. I suggest we keep her. We could send them Boris instead.

Kibosh on shots and a boogie til dawn

Naturally, she took blood. Whenever I see a pair of scrubs now I roll up my sleeves and avert my eyes. Ruined an entire episode of ER once and I do like a bit of Clooney.

She gave me leaflets. The NHS does love a leaflet.

She advised a good night’s sleep prior to surgery which I thought odd, since I assume that I’ll be out for the count best part of the next day, so me being less than my usual Tiggerish self is not really an issue.

Get an early night, she suggested. This rather put the kibosh on my plans to hit the town, hammer some shots back, boogie till dawn, then rock up to the ward with a half bottle of Glenmorangie in one hand, and a kebab in the other.

When is this surgery? Did I ask? Oh very soon, said my new Kiwi friend. They racked up the tension like Jeremy Kyle revealing the DNA results.

We got home. The phone rang again. The NHS was calling me like a deranged PPI autodialer. It was my old friend, the General Surgery Waiting list. My date for surgery is July 6. She said my consultant himself would call, a fact I promptly forgot.It had been a rollercoaster day, and I was tired. I thought I’d take advantage of a functioning liver to go berserk with a single G&T. I hadn’t eaten. Rookie mistake. Two sips in and I was giggling, and in that mellow place where even Matt Hancock doing the Covid briefing looks mildly amusing.

Somewhere in a secret location

The phone rang. Some part of my brain sobered up enough to realise that this is my consultant, the very nice man who is basically going to save my life and he probably thinks I am doing my part by looking after that liver and hitting herbal tea.

Suddenly I was 17 again and had been drinking snakebite and my mum was asking me if I’d had a nice evening and I was trying not to sway. Mr Consultant spoke beautifully, because he does, whilst I burbled and made vague noises. He told me that he might not be doing the surgery, his professor might.

The tipsy part of my brain thought it was just making conversation and said “has he done this sort of thing before?”

Who would have blamed him if he had said, “No, Susan, this bloke won a competition. He’s always wanted to have a bash at surgery, and we’re quiet that day.”

He didn’t. Turns out he’s Queen’s Surgeon in Scotland. Yeah, get me. Best shave me legs, I’m not a complete peasant. Hope she stays down south. Don’t want him called away to deal with a skelf in a royal digit.

Yesterday the phone rang. Seriously, I may have to hire an assistant for this traffic. This was Paul from pre-op Covid-19 testing. Turns out, it’s covert Covid testing. I could tell you where the location is, but then I’ll have to come and sing at you.

I have to make a sign with my name, date of birth and bank PIN on it. Might have made that last one up. I need a bottle of water, because they shove something so far up your nose you might boak.

Paul, I said, secret location, bottles of water and things being shoved up noses? Be honest. Is this really a secret rave?

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