When my cheerful surgeon came calling, I just couldn't turn him down (not when there's NHS custard involved) – Susan Morrison

My cheerful lung surgeon has been in touch, by phone. The NHS has discovered modern telecommunications, and I for one welcome it.

Friday, 4th February 2022, 12:30 pm
Surgery does not usually involve the resurfacing of major roads (Picture: Abid Katib/Getty Images)
Surgery does not usually involve the resurfacing of major roads (Picture: Abid Katib/Getty Images)

There are folk who don’t like it, but when it's just a matter of okely dokely, here’s the scan and here’s what we can do, then trust me, a phone call is a better use of a surgeon's time.

He has the breezy tone of a British Airways captain. This is reassuring. As with airline pilots, you want that even, measured voice, whether it be a man or a woman.

I well recall a nightmare flight from Dublin Airport when the female pilot announced over the PA in a very calm, warm and cheerful Irish accent that, “Here we are in the air now, and wasn’t that take-off a wee bit thrilling?”

This to a cabin full of passengers who had converted to Catholicism and were crossing themselves like they had been born to it.

There were three options, my surgeon said. One, I could just leave it. He did not sound keen on that. To be honest, I am not keen on that.

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Two, I could do something with radiotherapy. Again, I felt this didn’t have the full weight of his enthusiasm behind it. Surgeon, y’see. Very direct, these boys and girls.

Are you using that? Can we take it out? Right, let's go. You have to watch them. They can get carried away. I woke up after the liver surgery to discover that they had whipped out my gallbladder without so much as a by-your-leave. Fifty-nine years me and that gallbladder had been together.

Option three now, he really got behind. Surgery. We’ll go in keyhole, slice the anterior, reset the posterior and resurface the A698. Possibly misheard the last bit.

Not a clue what the rest meant, but he had clearly thought it all out. I felt I couldn’t say no. I could imagine his wee face falling with disappointment if I said, nah, let's leave this to the radiotherapists.

So, it's off to the RIE once again, just as I was starting to miss NHS custard.

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