The Ministry of Wellness (2)
FOOSH followed by bump to the head NV LOC ? # R scaphoid. Patient self-discharged before being examined.
One week later and Yvonne was filing her own discharge summary from A&E. As always, things at the Wellness Hub had moved on so quickly that everyone else seemed to have forgotten the accident: Daphne was up and running around almost immediately, as she'd had the softest landing onto Polly's pneumatic body, and Polly had soon returned to the relentless clamour of the switchboard.
Seeing a written account of her time in the Emergency department had brought back disquieting memories. After languishing on a trolley in a triage cubicle for hours, Yvonne had resigned herself to the fact that she had been completely abandoned.
A feeling of doom weighed heavily upon her, like a crushing pressure on her chest and she had the strangest intuition that someone was watching her. Prizing opened one red raw eye, she found herself nose to snout with a pink-faced golden monkey. The apparition filled Yvonne with immobilising terror. The creature inhaled her breath, then emitted a noiseless screech, displaying a cavernous maw and four huge fangs.
"Away! Barbary ape, before I perform a vivisection on you!" a baritone voice bellowed and the macaque was yanked away by the scruff of its neck, leaving Yvonne in a state of confusion. The nylon curtain of the cubicle flapped, and she had hoped it was someone coming to take her to radiology for an x-ray at long last. However, no orderly appeared and she was filled with a sense that it was an unseen entity retreating and taking her feeling of unease with it.
Yvonne suddenly felt an urgent need to escape this soulless factory of human suffering and clinical indifference. She held up her painful right arm and cautiously twirled her hand. Her sore eyes had already been rinsed with saline by a silent nurse and, as she seemed to have full rotation in her aching wrist, Yvonne decided to discharge herself and come back tomorrow if she felt any worse. She had wobbled away on the legs of a new born foal; in search of a chemist, co-codamol and a night bus home.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Margarita’s sickly voice roused Yvonne from her reverie. “You’ve been very quiet since your fall.” She tilted her head on one side to convey a sympathetic demeanour.
“I’m fine, thanks,” Yvonne said, as she watched the lead receptionist retrieve a sausage roll from a pile of picnic items on the bookcase and stuff it into her mouth.
“Are you sure you don’t want one? They’re left over from one of Daphne’s drug lunches.” Margarita spluttered a shower of crumbs, while gesturing to a plate of sausage rolls and mini scotch eggs.
“No, I’ve lost my appetite since I banged my head. Everything tastes funny.”
The receptionist brushed flakes of pastry from her bosom. “You should see a doctor. Galen has a cancellation in two weeks’ time.”
Yvonne was amazed. Dr Galen was so popular that he only saw emergencies on the day and his routine appointments were booked up months in advance. “I hope I’ll feel better by then,” she responded.
Later, Yvonne passed the consulting rooms on her way to the photocopier and reached Dr Galen’s office, just as a patient was leaving.
“Vix medicatrix naturae!” she heard him boom though the doorway, as a woman wearing a lilac velour tracksuit, which matched her purple rinsed grey hair, made a hasty exit.
The patient was obviously discomposed and looked to Yvonne with pleading eyes.
“He says I need lychees,” she shook her head. “Do you know what they are, dear? When I asked him for my usual prescription, he shouted something foreign at me!”
“Lychees are an exotic fruit that come in tins,” Yvonne explained. “They’re a bit like eyeballs. Are you sure that’s what he said?”
“Yes! He said I have an excess of blood and need lychees!”
“Well, it’s worth a try, I guess?” Yvonne shrugged. Far be it from her to contradict the doctor.
At that moment, Galen raised the blinds to his office window to reveal a rather more hirsute visage than usual. That’s a very bushy beard to grow in a week, Yvonne thought, and felt an unexpected stirring in her loins at his prodigious manliness.
The doctor seemed to be in a state of some agitation. “Quacks and mountebanks!” he raged, tearing a green prescription slip into tiny pieces.
Yvonne made haste, back to reception. “Dr Galen’s in a funny mood today,” she said to Polly, who was carrying a specimen bottle at arm’s length.
“I’ve never seen wee that colour before,” the receptionist said, slotting it into a plastic case full of similar bottles. “What do you mean?” she asked, squirting sanitiser onto her hands, “Galen’s not here to today – it’s his day off.”
“Angela’s duty doctor, I mean Wellness Lead, today,” Margarita piped up.
Yvonne’s mind reeled with confusion. Surely she’d just seen him with her own eyes? She caught sight of her pallid reflection in the full-length mirrors along the wall. She’d hardly slept all week and tiredness showed on her sagging grey face.
“You really don’t look well,” Margarita said with what this time seemed like genuine concern. She disappeared through the blue door.
With mounting horror, Yvonne caught sight of another image in the mirror, and the room started to feel like it was tilting. She sat at her desk and put her head between her knees. How could she mention to a doctor, what she could barely admit to herself? All day she had had the feeling that something was following her; just off to the left in her peripheral vision. That glance in the looking glass had confirmed there really was a creature pursuing her around the building – a ginger-furred tail-less monkey. Not only that, it was wearing an amulet of a winged penis around its scruffy neck.
Yvonne groaned and held her head in her hands. Just then, a female doctor wearing green scrubs, a white lab coat and stethoscope screeched into the room at top speed.
“Hi, I’m Angela – Wellness Lead,” she introduced herself, flicking her long brown hair over her shoulder.
“We’ve met before,” Yvonne replied feebly.
“Margarita said you bumped your head?”
“Yes – not today, last week. Out there in the corridor.”
“What here? Was it written in the accident log?”
“Yes, Polly did it.”
“Well, in that case you’re entitled to one free online consultation with the new Diagnostic Intelligence System!” Angela exclaimed, reaching into the pocket of her white coat and handing Yvonne a card with a QR code printed on it.
“Thank you, what does that mean?” she asked, reading the inscription on the card. “Is it a real person?”
“Real? Yes, of course. A real holographic representation of a real Wellness Specialist, algorithmically programmed with every conceivable symptom and diagnosis, by real physicians…who have since been made redundant.”
“Oh! That’s nice.” Yvonne gabbled.
“Pick up some wearable bio-sensors from Reception, scan the QR and have a real time consultation over your smart phone! Marvellous!”
“Thank you!” Yvonne shouted to Angela’s rear, as she hollered her goodbyes and legged it out into the corridor.
She turned the card over in her hand. “Ask Asclepius” it said in bold font: consult our virtual Wellness Specialist via the MOW app. Yvonne sighed. She hoped that flying members and imaginary monkeys were included under the umbrella term, “every conceivable symptom,” or asking Asclepius was going to be a fruitless exercise.