It’s a busy time of year here with visitors aplenty and the heat is on. You can’t keep everyone happy, no matter how hard you try. You can, though, give it your best shot. I injured my leg two weeks ago, a day before a much-anticipated family visit. I was very English, kept calm and carried on. My leg protested. After eight days of pretending nothing was wrong, something obviously was, so I went to the local hospital.
Once there, directed monosyllabically to stand by the Orthopedic Doctor’s door (by man in white coat but no ID), I did. I’m very English. No system apparent. I asked others. No system existed. I thought about leaving. Not so others. A patient inside was having his thumb sewn back on. A man with a roughly-bandaged blood-stained arm shouted and barged in. I asked and asked until I asked a woman in a dark blue uniform (no ID, natch). She snapped at me. I filled in a form and the process (not system) sped up.
I found a queue. I paid €3.50 to a cheerful cashier. She stamped my form. I went for an X-Ray. There, the radiologist came to the door, shouted ‘Next!’ and whoever was closest went in first. A man pushed his way to the door. I stared him down. He stood back. I went in. A cool room, with an extremely polite, calm radiologist (no ID, natch). No stress intended. None given. Results in five minutes. My leg looked beautiful. From the outside, I’ve never liked having my photograph taken. I’m narcissistic inside out.
Back to the same Orthopedic Doctor’s room, with the same crowd. Shouty, bloodstained man was still inside. During his occupation, crowd camaraderie had grown – I was welcomed back as an old friend. Order had been agreed in my absence and I was next. Shouty, bloodstained man came out, proudly holding his arm aloft, to applause and pointed jokes. I went in. Of course, I wasn’t alone. A woman wanted her husband treated ahead of me.
I spoke to a man in a green jacket (Orthopedist? No ID, natch). Between, and during, personal phone calls (his), he said he could only do so much. I agreed. A discussion on Greek semantics was shortened by my thrusting X-Rays between him and the sunlight. He said my leg looked perfect inside, relented, and started to examine the outside. He told my insistent ‘companion’ to leave. Her cold sarcasm followed. The order was holding. There was a sigh of relief outside.
My time with the man in the green coat was brief. Definitely a hematoma, not a fracture, he said. I would have skipped out of there if I could. The usual, common-sense, advice was dispensed. Back in the waiting room, smiles all round. I’d been quick, I’d been next, I’d been given a clean bill of health. What was not to like? The queue-jumper went in next. I walked out of the air-conditioning into the heat to take a taxi home.