It was quiet. It was just like being at work late on a Friday when nearly everyone has gone and only those who were left were themselves locking doors, putting things away and grabbing coats. It was a Friday but the only difference was that I was sat in an empty waiting room for my late appointment. It even felt like that gap that sits between commuter time and going out time. It’s that moment that most people are either home or nearly home but not yet going out. An almost indescribable something that sits somewhere between 6 and 7pm that is only experienced by people still somewhere where normally most people wouldn’t be. The last to lock up the office feeling.
I slipped over to the reception desk and pinged the bell on the desk. It might be a modern doctors surgery with it’s lcd flat screen in the waiting room for the next patient announcements and it’s up to date website, but somewhere amongst all the things that have been routinely updated, the hotel service please desk bell in it’s dull brass hue is as traditional as the senior partners that run the place. I hit the mechanical bell button with the palm of my hand but grabbed the bell to dull it with my fingers instantly in that way that says, ‘I wan’t your attention but I’m trying to be polite about it.’ kind of way. I just had to check that I’d not been forgotten by the system. I don’t mind the wait but what I didn’t want was to be sat alone in the waiting room to see my GP exiting his room with a warm coat, brief case and his car keys in hand.
If that had happened what could I have done? Let him go and explain at reception I had been forgotten or stop him with “Excuse me, I’ve been here for forty minutes, are you not seeing me today?” Better to ask first and avoid the problem. He was running behind which is to be expected at the end of a busy day that was at the end of a busy week.
Within a few seconds of returning to my chair, the same one even though I had a choice of about twenty or so, my name appeared on the screen and I was soon sat with Dr Richards. I like most of the doctors at my surgery but Dr Richards has a great, chair-side manor and nothing surprises him. He’s probably younger than me and yet he still inspires the confidence I need from a doctor.
There was no assumption as to why I was there but I suspected he knew as the gender thing had been dealt with carefully by the practice manager. I gave him the briefest of brief history of my situation. I have a tendency to have to go through my entire history given the change of psychiatrists at the local hospital but I made sure I would keep it short and not turn into a copy of Stephen Hawkins’ A Briefer History of Time which is still probably only relatively briefer than the other book.
“I was referred from here to the local hospital for gender identity issues a few years ago..” I explained going into no detail.
“Okay.” he said in his understanding manor.
“They referred me to a gender clinic in London who took some blood tests but they need them redone because they didn’t take enough and they also sent a letter to Dr Peters with a couple of things to look at, but I’ve never seen Dr Peters.” I explained this to the Practice Manager the week or so before and she had said I could see any doctor about it but as I’d seen Dr Richards quite a few times would I like to use him. He seemed like a good starting point.
He trawled through my history until he found the letter from the gender clinic and read through the important section that was headed something like ‘Care Plan.’ Being in Wales means that everything comes with a condition – if they will fund it. The they is some kind of panel that decide on cases to fund when referrals go to England or for funding anything out of the “ordinary.” I was under no misapprehension that anything requested by the clinician at the gender clinic could have been instantly met with a response of ‘we won’t fund that’, but it wasn’t. Doctor Richards said he would get someone to look into these things and if I would talk to the gender clinic when I next see them then may be certain things could be done, but of course it might depend on funding.
I brought up the issue of Vitamin D that was in the original blood tests that was a touch low and to see if it was something to be concerned about. He brought up the results from the blood that had been taken just a couple of days before. They had obviously put these through as a priority but even so the Vitamin D result wasn’t in yet but I felt reassured. My local GP and the surgery, despite not dealing with gender identity before, were neither dismissive or slow to deal with me. I felt quite lucky.
It may have been gone 6pm, closing time, but he didn’t rush through anything and left me feeling relaxed and able to breath out. I walked to the car. The woman who was just before me in the waiting room was just getting into her car and an elderly foreign lady with a young boy that I had seen in the waiting room was getting into the taxi with the driver that had dropped her off earlier who claimed to me in the waiting room, while the lady had struggled to give her name to the member of staff, “Is that the name she’s going by now?” I didn’t ask. Apparently I needed to know.
I went home and finally felt back-on-track. I felt there was a least some direction in being supported. When communication breaks down from the gender clinic, which it does nearly all the time, I can sometimes feel a bit let down or confused about what I really want out of everything. Is it worth all the stress. They’re improving slowly.
I cooked a meal and sat eating in the garden at candle light while I watched the clouds turn pink and the dusk gather slowly with a stillness in the air that kind of said, ‘no need to be tense now.’
Until next time.