I’m Dying; I Want To Speak To The Manager.

A Karen explains why there is no way to Karen at the NHS at a time like this even if you are dying.

TW: This piece is satirical and a sarcastic dialogue in response to the writers OWN experience of terminal diagnosis and treatment provision. It is not a reflection of the entire family ethos or opinion. Though there are some facts presented, it is in no way intended to cause offence but it is accepted that humour is a very personal construct…and the internet is has a fragile constitution. Should it cause you distress, please request to speak to the manager.

If find this in anyway hilarious, consider checking out the Justgiving page where we are raising money for a wheelchair to save us from my crippling nihilism.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kittyoddpaws

It is Wednesday the 27th of October, 2021. And I finally got to sleep at 6am as the cough that has kept me awake for 2 months straight finally succumbed to exhaustion. It’s been 5 days since I was told I have Upper Motor Neuron Disease. 5 days since I was given a very loose timeframe for when Grim will be knocking on the door. I find the horror of confronting a 8 foot death monster with skeleton hands and a sythe a tad more comforting than the sight of a doctor right now mainly because doctors seem a damn sight more mythical. A part of me does wish that the Reaper would be more specific as I think I’m more likely to run into him than my GP!

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Terry Pratchett wrote about Death a lot. His impression of Ol’ Grim was an overworked and undervalued civil servant who often abused the gentle powers of guiding those crossing over to impart the practical convenience of death over life.

I never have to pick up a pen again.
I don’t have to worry about the angle of photographs (no one should be tagged on insta after their sell-by-date).
No more will I suffer the conundrum of gallantly asking for the menu at my favourite restaurant, insisting I will try something new, then glancing for two seconds only to turn the menu over sheepishly and order the same pizza I have every time; I smile at the waitress knowing I’ve wasted her life. We both knew, from the start, I could have saved that awkwardness for the strange pause where we pretend we are good friends- because only the BEST friends laugh over bread and olives and feel one step closer to death with every step towards tomorrow.

Who am I kidding; best friends stay home, wash hands, and learn the Greek alphabet so you too can name all the strains of Corona!

Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash

There’s isn’t an upside to being diagnosed with Death at a time when it is super trendy. The market is flooded with people kicking the proverbial bucket.

As you can tell I took my news with a pinch of salt. And we have gone through every emotion you could think of. The main one was frustration; access to NHS is so stretched that I have still yet to actually see a British doctor to determine prognosis. I’ve spoken to a fair few though! And all are very apologetic. And so am I. But there is no treatment for MND so we had to move swiftly from bargaining to the other areas of grief.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I have to admit that having a mental health illness marked by a long standing attraction to self-destruction and a death sentence is odd. It took me 2 weeks of rollercoaster emotions to get to a decided FOMO (something I’m not used to) and relief because I have answers to years of longstanding “benign facilitations” and chronic fatigue. I will confess to being a tad…depressed. More so than my usual depression. And that has led to us looking into what we have access to at the moment around us.

And I have to start thinking about what is going to be appropriate for my needs going forward. Easy right? Wrong.

See, Corona feels a bit like a niche designer at London Fashion Week:

Here’s Vera Wangs collection Chemo; Stage 4 Liver Cancer; a vision in yellow.
And Gucci is channelling the best in cystic fibrosis in Bee-Reathe. Stunning spring motifs pronounced by the atmospheric humming of vibrating vests.
But wait… oh my goodness…it’s Corona with their breath taking Delta Plus; this will be everywhere come December.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

And then it is! It’s in Zara, then Primark, then living on surfaces for up to 11 hours.

If it was any other fashion trend, by the time it reaches the high-street, it should be 1% of the original! Buy death, get memorial bench free! 50% off decay! Trends drive down cost; you would think would make the cost of dying cheaper, lower quality, made through slave labour, but cheaper. But it’s not! And sometimes it’s not even returnable!

“Yes, this suffocation is unsatisfactory for me I would like to exchange it for this minor wound that become gangrenous.”
“What do you mean I can’t return this jaded excuse for oblivion for the 3 pints of blood I paid for it?!”
“Well -what is your name- JOAN! I find this unacceptable; I wish to speak to your manager. No I don’t care that there has been an influx of imports from an earthquake in Tibet! I don’t care that there has been a shipment of the Corona Theta Strain I got here first!”

My diagnosis was made with an amalgam of NHS England test results, NHS Scotland test results and GREEK test results!

In order to gain access to things like mobility aids on the NHS…I need to see an NHS doctor in Scotland. Like…physically lay eyes on him! I’m sitting on the urgent portion of the emergency section of the priority list for neurology prognosis and care support management…I’m in the lower 10’s for appointments…week 2 of a 23 week long waiting list! The definition of Urgent, Priority and Emergency have different definitions thanks to Aunt Rona! I haven’t physically -seen- a doctor regarding my individual case in the UK since March. Yep, terminal diagnosis…and I have been looking to WebMD for any form of reassurance or information.

Photo by Red Dot on Unsplash

Figures released by Public Health Scotland indicated that 33% of cancelled Cancer treatments were due to capacity and non-clinical reasons, and early diagnosis figures have been falling since the start of the pandemic matched by an emergence of late-stage cancer

All medical research was suspended in March 2020 with the determination to channel resources towards the near Churchillian Covid effort. The conducting of clinical studies has been profoundly altered with the introduction of rules pertinent to Phases, Covid Protection Proceedures enshrined in law.

But his is not unusual with our National Health Service; she has been buckling under the weight of under staffing, under funding, under-facilitated since time immemorial.

Photo by R O on Unsplash

What is more pertinent in this circumstance is the reported overall reluctance of patients seeking to access non-covid related treatment. Patients are electing to preserve doctor’s attention for the seemingly indefinite pandemic. It is a particularly cruel martyrdom causing an additional non-covid public health crisis separate; a form of eugenics where we are forced to weigh up the value of our own survival versus another with all the medical prowess of a spaniel with a stethoscope, and social pressure dense enough to turn anyone’s constitution to diamond.

Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

And so my personal response is to embrace Death as a mutual employee of the social system with water-cooler woe. He’s over worked, he’s under paid, he is in receipt of more complaints than the Medical Secretary and hasn’t had a holiday in…literally forever. And there is no Underworld Union to complain to. Charon, Grim and I dolefully exchange our frustrations on the side of the Styx hoping upper management is, at least, turning a blind eye for a moment while we exist on moral obligation and more coffee; two of the few markets that are actually experiencing socio-economic growth right now. Caffeine and courtesy.

Repeated TW Reminder: This piece is satirical and a sarcastic dialogue in response to the writers OWN experience of terminal diagnosis and treatment provision. It is not a reflection of the entire family ethos or opinion. Though there are some facts presented, it is in no way intended to cause offence but it is accepted that humour is a very personal construct…and the internet is has a fragile constitution. Should it cause you distress, please request to speak to the manager.

If find this in anyway hilarious, consider checking out the Justgiving page where we are raising money for a wheelchair to save us from my crippling nihilism.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kittyoddpaws

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Philippa Cooper

Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections.