Pampered footballer’s injury 2: this time it’s personal

So I've broken my foot again. Oh no! you gasp. And this has been confirmed through the medium of proper specialists and scans in actual hospitals? Ahm, no… because I can't get in to see anyone. My foot started hurting at the start of October just after I came back from Spain (last time I broke my foot, I had also just come back from Spain at the start of October. I am starting to think this is not coincidence) and it's morphed into a very familiar sensation. A kind of pressure at the top of my foot, in the centre towards, but not at, the toes; it throbs sometimes when the foot's at rest, and even though I've been careful to walk on the side it's starting to hurt. This week I have developed a rather interesting limp.

I went for an x-ray a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't show anything (stupid stress fractures and their taking 3-4 weeks to show up). What I need is an MRI, but I don't have private health insurance any more because I'm freelance. Actually, no, scrap that. I don't need an MRI: my doctor knows I've broken my foot. I know I've broken my foot. What I need is treatment.

On Monday I finally got an appointment to see my regular GP. He decided to refer me straight away rather than faffing with a second x-ray, so I got to have my first experience with NHS Choose and Book. It was not, shall we say, good. I have three options – I can go to Beckenham (I'm not even sure where Beckenham is), Lewisham or Guy's. The theory is that you call the Choose and Book number, or go on their website, compare the appointments available and make one that suits you.

Except Lewisham and Guy's aren't on Choose and Book, so I had to call them all separately and compare their earliest possible appointments.

In addition, because the break isn't urgent (read: I am not dying and can still walk), my referral is "routine" (there seems to be no grey area between 'OMG it's an emergency' and 'there's a little niggle I need to have vaguely checked out'). So, after calling three individual hospitals, the earliest date I could get was the end of the month.

A month! I felt like the moment in Peep Show where Jez screams in his head "I've been to fucking Hastings!" only in my case it's more "I've got a broken foot! (In Kent!)". The nice bloke at Lewisham felt my rising panic and suggested I go back to my GP, come out of Choose and Book hell, and try a referral direct to the Lewisham fracture clinic instead; apparently it's faster.

Well, thank god for my middle class sense of entitlement. Were I older, younger, less annoying, less informed, more accepting, I'd be spending November growing increasingly housebound and trying to work out how to get to Beckenham. Somebody needs to do a PhD properly comparing this system and seeing if it does, statistically, discriminate against people from lower income / education / class backgrounds. Oh, hang on

I have no real idea when this appointment at the fracture clinic will be. However, I have a pretty good notion that when I do, eventually, get seen, I'm likely to be pushed down the route of getting a plaster cast (because it's cheaper). This is not an option: a) I'd quite like to be able to make dinner without having to use crutches to hop between the cooker and the sink b) I'd quite like to able to have showers and stuff and c) I'm not 9, at school and eager to have something for people to sign. What I want is another boot like I had before, and I imagine I'll have to pay for it.

So fuck it. If I know what's wrong, I know what can treat it, and it's possible to get that treatment using my middle class money from outside the medical system, I might as well go ahead. Tomorrow I'm nipping out to Marylebone to pick one up. As of tomorrow… robo-boot returns.

It's taking my principles in exchange, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a… tattered metatarsal is begging her to do. Because even though we love the NHS, we occasionally experience the mild frustration of battering one's head against a brick wall.


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