• A tale of two treatments...

    I am the Italian Darren Anderton. If you have been following me for a while on twitter (or approximately two weeks) you know a day doesn't go by where something doesn't break.

    For different health reasons I have two MRI’s in a matter of weeks. In two very different countries. For the sake of warning and personal comedic tragedy, here are my experiences...

    Appointment Booking
    Here we have the NHS. Getting an appointment requires a system so complicated a degree is required to ensure you’ve ticked the right box! After several unsuccesful attempts to do it online, you may proceed to phone booking. This is a mistake, you are better off going to your GP directly, however you don’t. You spend several hours talking to a machine to then be passed to an operator who suggests “visit your GP to arrange appointment”.

    Call your Aunty who, knows the receptionist to some private clinic that does MRI’s. In turn, visit your Aunt to thank her for the call. You have an appointment, it’s tomorrow, precisely at the time you didn’t want it, be grateful, you have an appointment.

    Welcome Reception England
    Corridor upon corridor you meander aimlessly until you find the Radiology unity. Adorned with signs of “danger, radiation” you carefully find a seat close enough to view some antiques programme but far away enough to not turn into the hulk. A receptionist calls your name and calmly informs you that you are next. A nurse walks over to welcome you to the unit, speaking in a soft tone they ask you to “kindly fill out the form, and if you have any questions, please ask.” Everyone smiles.

    You walk into a building that looks like it should be shut down. There are no signs of “danger, radiation” but “caffe” spuriously espoused everywhere. After the receptionist stares you down for what seems an eternity, you are summoned to declare your name, address and pay 90 euros before doing anything else! You are told to go the MRI unit, which isn’t labelled. After 10 minutes of being lost, an old man (probably from the street) directs you to the correct area. No one smiles.

    Pre-emptive questioning
    The nurse who so kindly addressed you before is back. They run through all the answers thoroughly. They ensure you are comfortable, you are pushed for more information, more than you are perhaps willing to give, but persist. This is England, the nurses are underpaid, overworked and are just trying to be nice. God Bless them!

    The nurse summons you to the machine, and asks “what did you do?” After proceeding to inform, you are asked “are you sure?” It’s Italy, they think you are lying from the get go!

    You are taken to a room where you can get undressed. Here, you calmly leave your valuables and dress into a robe. Here the nurse spends several minutes going over what is going to happen. Calm voice, remember, it’s England. Just when you are ready to lie back, the nurse hands over a remote “push the button to speak to us, we’ll be there”. You are subsquently given headphones, here Steve Wright on Radio 2 is softly whispering in your ears, the downside, Rhianna is being played. This can’t be good for the examination. The machine starts, examination begins. I fell asleep.

    The nurse asks you to “take off your clothes”. You aren’t sent to a room. They are forever present, I’m persistently scared. After placing myself on the machine I’m told “don’t move. It’ll f*ck up the results”. I cover the crown jewels scared that radiation will do damage, the nurse assures me “nothing will happen, it may zing when you wee though”. Then in order the next three things happen;
    1) You are given headphones without radio, the nurse says “It’s noisy this thing, watch out”
    2) There is no remote to call the nurse “Just shout if you want me, I’m behind that glass. Make sure you’re loud!”
    3) The nurse leaves the room.

    After several minutes, the nurse walks back in. The machine isn’t working. On first play around, he decides that giving it a good slap is good enough to get it going. It doesn’t. The second time he walks in, you cautiously await what engineering marvel he has under his sleeve... he blows on the circuits in the back of the control panel; or as I like to call it... “the trick that makes DVD’s work”. He leaves the room, the machine begins, tests are done.

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