All this talk about our crappy health service reminds me of a true story.
A couple of years ago, Wrinkly Paddy noticed that he was going deaf in one ear – not surprising after fifty years in front of a six-foot-high stack of speakers at full blast. But, Wrinkly Paddy being Wrinkly Paddy, it couldn’t be anything as simple as that. If Paddy gets a pain in his leg, it has to be a stress fracture, or osteoporosis, or scrofula or scurvy, or some fuckin awful thing. So the deaf ear had to be a brain tumour.
Paddy decided he’d be dead before the health service got around to writing down his address, so he went to A Private Specialist. (Presumably, the same guy receives a huge public salary as well for telling people that they can have an appointment with him in fourteen years time if they’re lucky). I don’t know what The Specialist specialised in – I think he specialised in general stuff, but when he realised that Paddy was waving cash at him he became very attentive.
I’ll have five hundred of them for even fuckin talking to you, thangyaverymuch! What seems to be the problem?
Well, said Paddy, I have this hearing loss in one ear. It came on very suddenly and I have no explanation for it.
Hmmm, The Specialist replied. We’ll have to send you for A Scan.
Aaaarrrgghhh, said Paddy, but went for the scan anyway. Another thousand.
A few weeks later, he’s sitting across the desk from The Specialist.
It’s cancer, isn’t it? A brain tumour.
No it isn’t, says The Specialist, and that’ll be another five hundred.
Well what is it, then?
Well, The Specialist says, we’ve identified your problem. Five hundred more, please.
What? says Paddy. What??
The Specialist leans back in his padded swivel chair, and studies his greying temples in the reflection on his fingernails.
You have SUHL Syndrome.
Jesus, says Paddy. I knew it. I’m fucked. What does USHL stand for?
Oh, says The Specialist, it’s a medical term. Technical expression. A bit involved.
What, says Paddy. What the fuck is SUHL?
Erm . . .
Fuckin tell me!!
It stands for Unexplained Sudden Hearing Loss.
You have what we medical specialists call Unexplained Sudden Hearing Loss Syndrome. That’ll be another five hundred, thangyaverymuch.