I opened my eyes. The curtains were black. Surely it wasn’t time? Even with the clocks going forward those dark curtains should be struggling to filter the morning sun. I turned over and tapped my fingers hard around the bedside table until I found the top of the clock and gave it a tap until it lit. Three-bloody-thirty. I hit the clock off wrapped my self in the duvet until I fell asleep again only waking for four thirty, five thirty, six thirty and then by seven realising there was little point in trying to stay in bed; first day adrenaline was completely in control.
It seems whenever I decide to find a new job, with the exception of changing career completely, I kind of present my order to the gods of fate and it’s delivered. I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m certainly not religious, it takes some nerve to wait on the right job while money dwindles rapidly. To get that job that suits the way things are in my life at that time is like watching a clock countdown to disaster, but it’s happened so many times it just seems odd and I seem lucky. May be at one time I would want a job with less pressure and in a certain location or may be something a bit more pressurised and exciting that involves big clients. I just sort of order it up roughly in my head, sometimes without being completely aware of what I want, and eventually it just happens.
I wanted something quickly this time. I wanted something I knew I could do which would pay the bills while I continue to hunt that new career and, like I’ve mentioned before, wouldn’t it be nice to work by the sea. There it was. An advert for a job. Just in the right location for just enough money and the right amount of work. I applied, got an interview, prepared and got it within a week. I may not be that novelist or screenplay writer yet and I have to extend this career a bit longer but once again I was handed what was right for the moment.
The surface of the bench was warm. It was like it had invited me to sit facing the sea and explaining to me how lucky I was to have been delivered that fortune of fate that was as gentle a return to working life as it could be. I hugged the cardboard cafe take-out of hot chocolate in both hands and watched the clouds clear enough space for the water to catch the rays and sparkle them back at me. The sun warm on my face I thought for a moment how now I had time to breath a little. Time to think about myself for a moment.
With an appointment at the gender clinic coming up, a second appointment, I decided I had to at least sort out the mess that was the failed blood test they did. It was only one of the tests that they couldn’t complete but they asked for them to be all taken again. It meant asking my local GP surgery if they would do it and not being in England meant there could be a funding issue – these things are never easy. It was either that or travel the one hundred and fifty-odd miles to queue for an hour at charing cross ticketed waiting room just for a blood test. I took a deep breath some hours later and contacted the practice manager.
Despite it ‘all being a new thing’ for them, she was very understanding, helpful and proactive. It was like I had dialled the number for that fate line and what I needed was delivered by same day courier. Within the week I was at the surgery having several vials of blood taken. “Now, I’ll just make sure I do this properly.” the nurse said labelling up the containers carefully, “I’ve never had to take blood for some of these tests before.” she said excitedly.
“It was only one test that couldn’t be complete but they want the whole lot done again.” I explained.
“This is good. It makes it an interesting day for me.” she said pleased as if her job was suddenly less routine and matter of fact.
I was just pleased that the surgery, which appeared to be dealing with gender identity for the first time, were quite interested rather than shocked, horrified or dismissive. I felt cared for. “You’ll just feel a little sting now.” I’ve had so many blood tests these last twelve months that I wasn’t really bothered but either way that initial sting was still there and this time the needle would remain in my arm for what felt like at least two or three minutes. I never look. I don’t mind blood unless it’s my own, at least not until the caps are on those vials and they’re all laying on the metal tray in all their deep rose glory.
The needle was out and the cotton held on, which is probably the part I most like, before the surgical tape is stuck down presenting everything trophy like for the rest of the morning – daring to pull it off to see if it’s dried but knowing that once it’s off, it’s off, and blood test day is over. “The needle came out clean.” she said reassuringly, “You might get a bit of a bruise later though. Would you like a drink of water before you go? I’ve taken quite a bit of blood.”
It was fine. It probably wouldn’t compare to the bruise I got from the trainee at Charing Cross anyway. There was a knock at the door before I left. A woman walked in and spoke to the nurse. I had a sneaky suspicion it was the practice manager I had spoken to on the phone. I had notice her pop in to the room while I was sat in the waiting room. I think she was overseeing that everything would be dealt with properly. Not how I was dealt with particularly but at the very least administratively as she knew how important these tests got to the gender clinic before my next appointment. It was comforting to know.
I sat in the car and grabbed my bottle of water. She was right. I sat for a moment, my lips tingling. I’d never had that before. It was, at least, done. One down and one more to go, my GP. The practice manager had kindly fitted me in to see the doctor I had generally seen because no one had discussed that letter the gender clinic had sent them last year. You know the one. The one that mentioned how I had “presented androgynously” which doesn’t matter really and, may be compared to some people, I did. Jeans and a t-shirt wasn’t quite the dress I had seen one person wearing in the waiting room that time I suppose. It hadn’t changed their summary diagnosis in one way, but it was mentioned.
Within a few days I was sat in the GP waiting room again with an echo of nerves I had the first time I ever told a medical professional. I took a breath, a pause for thought about how I’m an adult and I need to stop worrying – and then it just all went away. I sat there on a late Friday afternoon watching the large TV screen that gave advice on the latest medical conditions patients should be thinking about, prostates, bladder infections and cancer. Patients came and went as they filtered in and out of the surrounding doctors’ rooms. A doctor with a smart long black coat that hung well on his shoulders left for the day with a black leather brief case and the waiting room slowly emptied until it was just me.
Until next time