A sense of relief and freedom flood my body as it slowly dawns on me that my last deadline has passed. It takes a while to sink in, my overtired and stressed mind unused to coping with a lack of work. This leaves me at odds with myself as my body has begun to relax for the first time in two weeks but my mind is still alert and ticking over. A good night’s sleep is all I need to realign my physical and psychological wellbeing. However this luxury is denied to me as I suddenly remember I have an 8.30 hospital appointment tomorrow morning. If I owned a car this wouldn’t be such a problem but I don’t which means it is a 6.00am bus journey. To add insult to injury the reason I am currently without a vehicle is because I cannot arrange plans to take my driving test until I learn the date of my operation. I force these thoughts from my mind and enjoy my afternoon of freedom, reminding myself there is only one more painful, early start. Then I will gain access to an entire summer of lie ins.
At 5.55am I awake, groggy, grumpy and a little queasy. I drag my weary carcass out of the warm confines of the much too snug duvet and trudge downstairs to the kitchen. I remain in a zombie like state for a good half an hour before the caffeine of my tea begins to kick in. Although exhausted I feel relatively complacent. Just two bus journeys left to go and the chains of demand will loosen from around me. Plus I will finally find out when my hernia operation is occurring. I have had the blasted thing since January and find myself at the end of my tether. Walking around with part of my insides hanging out is not my idea of fun and the sooner it is sorted the better. Unfortunately for the time being I have to man up and bear the pain. As usual I end up staring vacantly into space until I suddenly realize I have under five minutes to get dressed and make it to the bus stop. What follows is a panicked rush, involving grumpy mutterings and the occasional profanity as I struggle to find either clean or appropriate attire to don. Eventually I manage to assemble together a reasonable combination of clothes and stagger out the door into the bright light of the early morning.
I make hasty progress past the back of Sainsburys, eager to reach the bus stop quickly, in order to escape the too light sky. I genuinely suffer from slight light sensitivity coupled with the fact that I rarely tackle the outside world this early in the morning. My decision to leave early pays off as I arrive at the bus stop in the nick of time. Boarding, I revert to college mentality and seek the secluded, shadowy seats at the rear of the vehicle. It is a welcome relief from the harsh intensity of the sky outside, allowing me to shrink back into the darkness and nurse my niggling headache.
The first half of the journey is surprisingly pleasant with rolling fields and picturesque scenery to pass the time. However at the half hour mark I encounter my second problem of the day. Tea alone is not enough to sustain a man and my disregard for breakfast leaves me feeling queasy, a heavy nausea churning and swirling within my gut. I have never been able to stomach food first thing in the morning. Tending only ever to eat a good forty five minutes after waking. No amount of water can quell my bubbling gut and the last half of the journey is spent focusing all my energy on not throwing up. Luck is on my side as I manage to reach my destination without incident. I step off the bus, breathing in the fresh air like a dying man inhaling much required oxygen.
It is eerily quiet in the hospital foyer, only my kindle providing me company. At ten minutes past eight a trickle of doctors and nurses start to file in, rushing to and fro with haste. In a few of them I detect an air of self-importance. Particularly in the way some of the younger doctors stride through the corridors, their immaculately polished loafers echoing across the linoleum floor. My kindle flashes up with the low battery sign and I groan. Great, I was just getting to the good bit. Eventually the wall clock strikes 8.30 and I approach the information desk, paper appointment in hand. The sour faced lady behind the desk scrutinizes the paper and then refers to a list of names on a sheet on the counter in front of her.
‘I can’t find you.’ She says with a shake of the head.
Well look harder, a voice inside my head commands but what I actually say is ‘Oh?’ with raised eyebrows.
‘Let me check the computer.’
I wait patiently as she consults the machine.
‘According to this it was a telephone appointment.’
You what? She better be kidding.
‘Sorry, didn’t you know?’
‘No.’ I hiss through gritted teeth.
‘I’ll see if we can get you through to see someone.’ She adds hastily, sensing my patience is wearing thin.
As you can imagine I am not in the best of spirits by the time I finally get through to see a nurse. After a lengthy questionnaire about my health in which I mainly answer ‘no’, this nurse who friendly enough in nature tells me that I have been placed on a waiting list. Further enraged I go off on one, informing her that I have spent the last four months already on a waiting list. All she can say in response is that it shouldn’t take too long as being young I don’t have any complicated health issues. I can see there is no point in arguing and dutifully nod my head mutely.
As I leave the hospital my anger subsides and the only thought that occupies my head is getting home. Much to my annoyance I discover that I have another half an hour to wait before the next bus. I return to the hospital, remembering that there is a café near the entrance and purchase a coffee to power me through. Back at the bus stop I instantly regret my decision as I take my first sip. I don’t know what toilet water tastes like and I hope I never will but this god awful coffee is the next worst thing. I curse myself for not choosing a chocolate bar instead. Now I am hungry, moneyless and have a horrible taste in my mouth. The arrival of the bus gives me an excuse to chuck the remaining contents into a nearby bin.
Five minutes into the journey, the need to pee arises and I cross my legs, trying to stem the flow. I am on the verge of peeing my pants by the time I arrive at my destination. I hop from foot to foot, my progress impeded by an elderly lady bobbing along at a painstakingly slow rate. Part of me feels guilty for rushing her. Another part just wants to push her out the way and make a dash for freedom. I spot a gap and squeeze past. I make it back to the house and dash inside the toilet. I let out a massive sigh of relief, all my worries and concerns draining away.
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