Travelling gynaecology by Barbara Nadel

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We are very lucky here in the UK. We have free health-care that, over the course of a life, will save a typical individual thousands and thousands of pounds. That said, a kind of price is exacted in the form of time. Even as a small child I recall endless hours of boredom dripping by as I waited sitting on chairs as hard as lead to see lofty and distant consultants in hospitals all over east London. Not much has changed in that respect over the years and yesterday, when I went to see my gynaecologist, I first had to spend an hour and a half in a semi-comatose state waiting my turn in the treatment room. Just like all the other zillions of people in the waiting room, I too thumbed many copies of lurid celebrity magazines and then stood by the window with an expression of hopelessness on my face. But for free healthcare, so be it. If of course, our new government allow us to have free healthcare. For the squazillionth time, to my knowledge, the National Health Service (NHS) is going to be ‘reformed’. What this actually means, none of us, as yet, know. But with the country in dire financial straits, it could mean anything including some sort of payment structure and so everyone is very, very nervous. Healthcare is expensive.

But help is at hand and it comes in the form of a book I am planning to write entitled Uterine Removal on the Number 104 Bus from Upton Park to Stratford. This is based partly upon the seminal 1973 How to Remove your appendix on the Circle Line from that wonderful, and scholarly, text the Brand New Monty Python Bok. A range of new self surgery text books is just what is needed for a world of uncertainty and when the average man and woman on the street is pretty skint. Obviously this and further texts, I am considering (Prostate Surgery on the Orient Express, 101 Plastic Surgery procedures in a plane) is only for those of a steady disposition, not to mention a steady hand. So how does Uterine Removal on the Number 104 bus from Upton Park to Stratford (URN104) work?

Well, first supplies will have to be got. This will include surgical instruments, swabs and bandages, sutures, antiseptics and analgesics. And although swabs, bandages and antiseptics may easily be purchased from any reputable pharmacy, the other items may be rather more difficult to find while the NHS is in its current state of flux. Strong analgesics, like morphine, are only available on prescription and are severely limited. It will therefore, be necessary to approach rather more unconventional suppliers like Mr Johnny ‘Fruitcake’ Leggs of Kilburn. Mr Leggs works out of a small office, or toilet, round the back of the ‘Spliff and Tampon’ pub in Greenford where he routinely dispenses morphine and other helpful analgesics from a suitcase marked ‘Biohazard’. Mr Leggs is also a useful contact when it comes to surgical instruments – or rather blades of varying sizes. His associate, a Mr Havoc of Somewhere Underneath the Hammersmith Flyover can, for a price, access anything from a simple razor blade right up to a full-sized guillotine. As for sutures – well, who hasn’t nicked a sewing kit from a hotel room at one time or another, eh?

Once equipped and hopefully, with enough morphine in your system to kill pain without losing consciousness, your bus ride to gynaecological health and cost effectiveness may begin. The aim is to make the first incision at Upton Park and, by the time Stratford Broadway hoves into view, to be in a position to dispose of the uterine material and any used sharps and unwanted sewing thread. Of course the needs and desires of other passengers will have to be taken into account as the operation proceeds and I would definitely recommend at least two buckets for those with weak stomachs, and four bottles of smelling salts at an absolute minimum. Ideally surgery should only be performed away from young children, pregnant women and people carrying heavy shopping. Some drivers do like to be informed that surgery is about to occur but most don’t. Amazingly some drivers report that on-bus surgery actually affects their driving in a very negative fashion. Staggering, but true.

All this is very practical, as I trust you will agree offering, as it does, a way forward towards health for a population possibly facing crippling surgical bills. The only other thing that may help is of course if our legions of beloved celebrities were to donate one of their plastic surgical procedures to a member of the public on an annual basis. For instance one liposuction procedure may be swapped for the setting of a broken arm. Both practical and philanthropic and will undoubtedly lead to the celebrity in question being loved and adored all the more. Everybody wins.

Note to self: I really must stop spending long periods of time in waiting rooms.

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