I had a ct scan yesterday, to “rule out intra cranial causes” of the memory and word brain problems. Only along the way, the scan turned out to be extraneous; when shrink two was filling out the bloods form, I quickly whinged about night sweats and blog bless her, she added oestrogen and progesterone to the list. When I arrived in the little blood’s room, the woman raised her eyebrows at the amount of tests and proceeded to draw a gallon or two of my finest blood and then she flew away licking her incisors clean.
(Shrink two, by the way, is an almost shrink; in the process of being shrunk, if you will and I am her PhD case study. So shrink two works closely with shrink one, who is my official shrink, I own shares in her, I’m trying to accumulate enough for her soul, with the lovely added benefit of costing me no money at all. So far that’s giving me six months of CBT, every blood test under the sun and the ct scan with zero fuss or stress.)
She smsed me that week saying that everything was all clear, she was just waiting for the hormone results. The following week I got an sms saying, “your oestrogen level is in the post menopausal range.” zomg wtf whut? It’s not surprising; I am 45 and I’ve been having torrential monsoons of night sweats for about a month. GP’s have muttered, “too young, peri menopause next,” for years when I’ve (repeatedly) asked about it, because – symptoms! As usual, I digress. The tl;dr is that it’s not bloody surprising my moods are quite so fucked and I can barely read, write and remember anything. Problem solved, but the scan was booked.
The state hospital is wonderful, and I intend no sarcasm. The outside of it is shiny, inside it’s all crumbling and they’re working on half staff – but it’s the best treatment I’ve ever received in my entire life (both here and in the UK). Bear in mind that other features of my visits have included prisoners manacled hand and foot in old school convict metal, a wailing patient manacled hand and foot by plastic, the kind of scenes you lot only see on Sky News and the presence of an initiation clinic in the hospital. Fuckall white faces, fuckall English, lots of standing patiently at reception desks with a half smile while ladies conduct unhurried conversations, because that’s how it goes. People get arsey about ‘Africa time’, but actually, why should anyone drop whoever they’re dealing with to grab a phone or deal with the next issue in the queue? Africa teaches you patience and forbearance, if you’re listening. In all the weeks I went there, I was treated with respect – everybody was. There are no vending machines for snacks and the water coolers are all empty, they always are, in government places. Instead, administration staff make a few extra bucks selling cheap snacks from their desks. I am treated well, simply because I’m patient and I treat people well. That’s all it takes. (Make a note of it, if you ever come to this continent, I’ve seen too many tourists boil over and erupt.)
A good friend has been there with me every time and it’s the first time I’ve had that experience. I cannot begin to tell you how much that means to me. She’s interested in everything and those trips have been utterly fascinating, to say the least. Initially, when a batshit psych patient spoke to her, she looked alarmed. By week two, if the person was waiting, she’d hand over a sweet and a soothing chat. She’s 70 and age commands respect in that kind of environment. We’ve explained stuff to each other, according to our respective area of knowledge, it’s been lovely instead of as stressful as fuck. The psych ward is Ward 13, that fact delights me no end.
I had a drip put in, in a small, tired and dirty room, by a woman with immaculate hygiene and soft hands in surgical gloves. The vein in my elbow was skeef (crooked) and so the needle went into my hand. I photographed it, because that’s the sort of thing I do. It’s a single storey place and every ward opens to the outside, I left Ward 13 (lol) for the radiology dept. As I walked in, the radiologist recognised me, took my folder and told me where to sit. After an astonishingly short wait, I went in. Normal ct scan first, broad velcro straps around my arms and torso and my forehead, in the thing that sounds like a washing machine and looks like a retro spaceship. Then the pink contrast stuff was injected (I’d amused myself beforehand by thinking, “pink drip lol,” and a really lovely warm and tingly feeling flooded through me and then I was rolled back into my spaceship. Upon which, nausea hit me like a mothertrucker and I kind of flapped my way out. “Vomit here,” said the tech, handing me a full instrument tray. I did, but only a bit, because of the no food rule. She said, “take short breaths, pant like a dog, we have to get the scan done quick to catch the medicine. I promise it works,” and it really did, but sadly as soon as my head re-entered the spaceship, violent gurgles erupted again. That time I had an empty plastic idk what to spit my empty stomach into and urgent encouragement. Panting like a dog worked like a charm, I felt completely normal and that was that. We waited outside for the duration of a very quick coffee from my space age steel flask, then the radiologist handed me the usual huge envelope full of x-rays, and we plodded back to iWadi 13 (bilingual signs, some of them pidgin as pigeons, because, obviously, there are no words for some things in some languages).
Shrink two breezed past with her amazing million braids and vanished into her office with the envelope. A few minutes later she called me in and said, “all clear, you don’t have any tumours.” Readers of a previous post will be glad to hear that there weren’t any calcified tapeworm eggs in my brain either. Google it – I dare you. After that it was a matter of paperwork for the meds I’ll get free (subject to availability, I’ve posted a couple of times about stockouts here), a brief natter about hrt and omega 3, and some careful notes about my psychosis the previous today (and what a fucker that was). “Always best to be sure,” said shrink one, “it’s good that we’ve done the scan. Basically you are having difficulties for three reasons; menopause, bipolar and the treatment.” Sweet jebus on a bookshelf, do bipolar women need more of all the shit we go through already? Apocalypse: 1, Life: 0.
Job done. Clear. Continue to eat three portions of oily fish per week for the ailing, failing brain. See you next week at the plush private clinic, where shrink two uses shrink one’s extremely larney office for our therapy sessions. And so we left, past exposed, crumbling brickwork, outside past 837562 begonias (ffs), through security and past all the vendors outside it (street food the way only this province does it). Heartbreaking dogs, shacks, a black pig snorting cheerfully into a pile of rubbish, factories, the city and then the road home.