Sunday 28 September 2014

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

I recently had to take my daughter to our GP. Nothing major, an infection had taken residence on my wee bairn’s face, and we wanted to find out what it was and how she could get rid of it. As we sat in the semi-empty room, surrounded by a sea of chairs arranged uniformly, thoughts of mortality assailed me. These were not the result of mental self-laceration, brought about by reflections on the hereafter. My musings were caused by the large screen situated up on the wall at the front of the room in a way that it could be seen by everyone from every angle. The screen loomed ominously on the few patients (and visitors) in the room like a version of Orwell’s Big Brother. The sound was off and subtitles ran across the bottom of it. But it was not the object that made me think of life and death, especially the latter, but the environment in which it operated, including the message conveyed by the images on the screen.

Forget about the absence of an apostrophe. Just be scared, be very scared!

I know that as we enter the cold season of the year (autumn is almost here, even if it has been
unusually warm for September. This will be followed, I’m sure, by a winter that might want to take revenge on us for last year’s mildness) we ought to think more of those who are at risk of falling prey to flu and other maladies. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for depressing waiting rooms in GP surgeries. On this occasion as I sat in the semi-empty waiting room with my daughter, I noticed that the walls, fronts desk, lift door, stairs and entrance were festooned with explicit posters and bunting about the anti-flu jab. They also carried a very detailed description of what symptoms to look out if one thought a cold was coming on. No wonder I began to sneeze.

Despite my overall good health (touch wood), I felt somewhat hypochondriac and paranoid in that room. Between the messages being beamed at me by the large screen and the flyers around me, I began to doubt my own well-being. Falls, respiratory complications, obesity, allergies, dementia, you name it; they covered all that in just under a quarter of an hour.

As I mentioned before, it goes without saying that a GP surgery is better placed than other outlets to raise awareness of a balanced and stress-free lifestyle and regular medical check-ups. But there are ways of doing it without overwhelming people who come in to see their doctor in circumstances which could be, to put it mildly, very delicate sometimes. As I walked back down the stairs with my daughter to return to the car park, I kept watching my step. Having been exposed half an hour before to images of what a nasty fall could cause, I didn’t fancy a trip to casualty with a broken ankle. It took me another day to recover from the GP experience. I wonder how much longer it would take someone with a more susceptible personality.

This is a follow-up to my previous post. A lot of good literature is being written in Cuba. Not just novels, but also poetry and short stories. I think it is my duty as someone born and raised in the Caribbean island and armed with a weapon to which many of these up-and-coming authors have no access – a blog - , to promote their work. No, this is not a sponsored feature and I’m not being commissioned by anyone. My only interest in finding a larger audience to the two books below is that they were both translated by an ex-postgraduate teacher I had back in uni when I was still an undergraduate student. Dick Cluster very kindly made an exception for me to join his lectures on crime fiction and for that I will always be grateful. He is also a writer in his own right of both fiction and non-fiction. Click on all the links provided to find out more.

A Corner of the World

Vital Signs

© 2014

Next Post: “Urban Dictionary”, to be published on Wednesday 1st October at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. I agree, a doctor's surgery should be used as a way of highlighting the positive ways you can help your health (eg tips on a healthy, nutritious and tasty diet or advice on how to get outside for healthy exercise) rather than all the doom and gloom messages round health.

    I've read a number of good books and seen a number of good films from Cuba.

  2. haha they sure try the scare tactic so you'll get them placebo flu shot and the like. They have to keep business booming

  3. I must have enlightened managers at my surgery. Yes, the leaflets are all there, and the little corner to test your blood pressure. And the carpet is a lovely deep red, there is a box of toys and books for children and no one complains if they end up all over the floor. So at least we can be poorly cheerfully. (I have no sympathy for anyone who has a problem with children playing.)

  4. I don't get the flu shot, I really don't trust it, to be honest. My "flu shots" involve things like ginger, honey, garlic and tea. Fortunately, though, I don't get the flu as a rule, but I know that senior citizens and people who usually get the flu need the flu vaccine.

  5. I have no real concept regarding the intricacies of the medical system in the (still) United Kingdom, CiL. But, as for me, I "shop" for medical facilities and staff whose "style" I like and favor. And, while I essentially only visit a medical doctor when I have a medical problem/situation as opposed to practicing "preventative medicine," I often do pay attention to my body and respond to what it is "telling me," which is something I think I would not be so apt to do if it were not for the "scare tactics" employed by the medical community.

    I was a very, very heavy smoker, for instance. I quit (cold turkey, I might add) for two or three reasons, one of which was the barrage of warnings from the medical community.

    It seems almost everyone tries to frighten us into doing and being what they think we should do and be -- politicians, especially, but the religious and the legal and the medical and the educational systems all employ fear among their tools. There is not much one can do except look for "facilities and staff whose style” you like and favor.

  6. All too familar here. Most doctor's surgeries are doom and gloom factories. And I sometimes wonder whether it impacts on the doctor and their staff just as much as it does on those of us who are incarcerated in there awaiting their convenience...

  7. Hi! I will check out your links and Dick Cluster as well.

    In the meantime, no falls! (Other than autumn!)

    Take care; thanks for your humorous and interesting perspective always; thanks also for your kind comments on my blog. K.

  8. i will check out cluster as well...
    i am not a fan of doctors offices...even less so the dentist nice as they may be at times...too many problems to think about when you are waiting for a matter how benign...

  9. There's no where more scary that a doctor's waiting room! Even if all the posters and literature and screens don't terrify, all the people sneezing and wiping their snot all over seats is enough to make me permanently paranoid.

    I totally agree that some positive health messages would be much more welcome. I mean, we know it's flu season, really. How about telling us how to keep our immunity boosted and our stress levels down? There are so many things that need to be worked on and changed...


  10. How is your daughter now, Cuban?

    I always have the flu jab but that's the only thing I want from a doctor's surgery. Oh maybe a potion or two if I get sick but that's all. But I'm older now and heaven help me and mine if I'm assisted/encouraged to live to the middle hundreds.

  11. Ha...this is exactly why I never visit my surgery unless I'm at death's door!
    I used to go there for some minor ailment, and leave convinced I had only a few months left on Planet Earth! *chuckles*

    I do hope your daughter is on the mend now, CiL.:)

  12. Daughter is better. She's a tough cookie. :-) It was less to do with the actual physical discomfort than with the psychological and mental effect on an adolescent and others' perception of her, if you catch my drift.

    I avoid GPs, A&E wards and hospitals in general. Even in places like maternity wards, where new life is brought into this world and where the environment should be more upbeat, it's sometimes still depressing.

    Anyway, enough of the moaning and complaining. I hope you all have a brilliant week ahead.

    Greetings from London.

  13. I'm always amazed at how easily my brain--which I think has its abilities--ends up being suggestible. My son is diagnosed with strep throat, and within the hour, I'm sure my tonsils, too, are feeling scratchy. And it's hard to swallow. And maybe I have a fever?

    Thank you, too, for the tips about Cuban writers. I teach various lit classes and am always trying to find interesting authors from not-the-United-States-please.

  14. It is probably neurotypical to feel paranoid in that particular room. Glad it was nothing serious concerning your daughter.

  15. Hi--I came back to check on your posting-hope sneeze better--also enjoyed a small amount of Mick's strut! My daughter saw him in concert a little while ago and had gotten very close seats--made some extended eye contact! Ha! (She was thrilled.)

    Thanks. k.

  16. The waiting room at our local medical facility isn't bad. Nothing fancy. Kinda bland, actually. Doesn't matter to me one way or the other though, because whenever I go, I ALWAYS bring reading material to pass the time.

    I've loved the Stones for a long time. It's hard to believe they... and I... have gotten so darned old, though.

  17. Thanks for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...