Do you remember those feelings of mortification you felt as a kid if you were ever to bump into one of your teachers outside of school? Surely teachers don’t exist outside of school. Surely they don’t have lives and families of their own. Surely their sole purpose in life is to remain within the confines of the school grounds, serving us and us alone in our journey of learning!
I’m pretty sure the same applies to the medical profession. In which case, what the heck was my (albeit retired) Neurologist doing casually mooching around my local supermarket as if he had his own life to lead and his own family to feed? Aren’t doctors supposed to be in the hospital at all times, even retired ones? Whatever he was doing, it was with a rush of nausea that I clocked him in the household cleaning aisle. Symptoms of shock took over my body and all those long forgotten feelings from my diagnosis came flooding back to me. All I could think about was his face and those words, “you have MS.” In that moment, the concept of time travel felt very real, I was a scared and confused 28 year old all over again.
Once I’d had a chance to compose myself I had to decide on my next course of action. Should I approach him? Should I nod a little, ‘hello’? Or should I launch into a speech about my ongoing symptoms and treatment plans? After all, that’s what I usually do when I see him. What exactly is the protocol for speaking to your Neurologist outside of the consulting room? In the hospital I would speak to him only when directed, which was never in the waiting room or even the corridor outside his office. No, I don’t think you’re supposed to talk to your doctor anywhere other than inside the consulting room and only then when you are safely in your seat. With that in mind, the household cleaning aisle seemed an entirely inappropriate place for a) my doctor to be standing and b) for any kind of patient / doctor catch up.
The only option open to me, as I saw it in those panic stricken nanoseconds, was to leg it back to the Power Aisle and peruse the biscuits on offer. We were both near the ‘end’ of the store anyway, therefore, if I hid long enough there was a chance that I could safely emerge unseen to pay for my goods. Picking up a few unplanned items from the home baking aisle (I haven’t baked in years) I cautiously wheeled my trolley back past the household cleaners… Noooo… there he was again! He still hadn’t left! What the flip was he doing?? Taking my chances, I lowered my head and swiftly steered my trolley past his. Not daring to breathe for fear that he would recognise me, I made a dash for the checkout and paid.
Whew. That was close!