What Goes Around: - By Carol Marinelli
I’ve tried to make this phone call so many times.
I introduce myself and am met with silence.
‘I was wondering if we could meet – for a coffee perhaps…’ Still there is silence. ‘I’ve got so many questions and I thought you might have some too.’ I hear a sharp intake of breath and I quickly squeeze some words in. ‘I know we can never be friends, I just really need to talk to you.’ I don’t know what to say now, I’m about to give in when finally, finally, she speaks.
‘Okay.’ There’s another long stretch of silence and then she suggests that we meet for a drink.
I’m relieved that it’s today, because I know if we postpone this, then one of us will change our minds, one of us will find an excuse not to go.
And I’m nervous too, because it’s today.
She suggests a pub where we could meet and I agree to the place and the time. She gives me the address and directions and I pretend I’m writing them down, I pretend that it’s a place unfamiliar to me, except I know the pub well.
It’s a place where he used to take me.
I put down my magazine and stand when my name is called.
‘Lucy.’ I smile to Dr Patel.
My usual GP is on maternity leave, I learned when I made the appointment, but they were able to slot me in with Dr Patel.
I’ll only be here two minutes.
We make small talk as I take a seat and no, she isn’t new, Dr Patel tells me, in fact she’s been here close to a year.
‘I’m not here much,’ I admit. ‘I’m healthy really…’
Apart from these headaches.
But luckily, after I’ve described my headaches and she’s tested my eyes and done my blood pressure and things, Dr Patel doesn’t think that I have one.
A brain tumour, I mean.
‘Your blood pressure is a bit high though,’ she tells me.
‘Probably because I’m here.’
I ask for some stronger headache tablets but she doesn’t leave things at that, instead she asks if I exercise as she takes me over to the scales and weighs me.
‘I’m at the gym every other day.’
I do yoga!
‘You certainly don’t need to lose weight, Lucy.’ Dr Patel nods, and then, when we’re back sitting down, she asks about my lifestyle but there’s nothing lurking there.
‘We eat really well.’ I tell her and we do. I’m really careful about our diet and no, I don’t smoke or drink.
‘I have the odd glass of wine.’
‘And I like a brandy now and then.’
She nods again.
Dr Patel, I am starting to realise, does that a lot.
And no, we’re not under any financial pressure – she just has to look at my address!
I don’t like all these questions.
Everything’s perfect I tell her. I just want some stronger headache tablets and I’ll get my eyes properly tested as she suggested, but Dr Patel is still just sitting there. She asks about my relationship and that’s perfect too I tell her, except…
My mind darts to Beth who works in reception and I wonder if she reads the patient notes. She’s a mum from school and I don’t want anyone knowing about this, I mean, I don’t want anyone knowing that we’re having problems…
Or rather, we’re not having problems.
I don’t want to tell Dr Patel, I certainly never intended to.
Except, I do.
Of course, a moment later I regret it. I have to sit there as Doctor Patel tells me everything I already know - that there are lots of treatments available, that just because one thing doesn’t work, something else might.
I can Google too!
‘Well, given that he won’t even talk to me about it, there’s no way I can get him to come and see you.’
We just sit in silence for a moment. I shouldn’t have said anything. I know that there’s nothing she can do if he won’t even come in and, even if he does – well, I’m finding it hard enough to talk to Dr Patel – I can’t imagine him!
‘I’m trying to be understanding.’ I am! Though I don’t tell her that I’m not doing a very good job of it. My face starts burning as I think of the last time we tried and patience isn’t a virtue that springs to mind!
I close my eyes as I recall it and, to be honest, I couldn’t have handled it more badly if I’d tried.
I mean, the situation.
‘I know he’s older than me, I know that it happens….’