When they released me from A&E last week, they pressed into my hand a letter telling me to come back to the hospital this morning to visit the HAMU.
HAMU? Wtf? It turns out that this is the Homerton Ambulatory Medicine Unit. This means a clinic that you walk in to. Is it just me, or is this an excessively wordy name – with an accompanying weird acronym – for what could just as easily be called ‘Outpatients’ or ‘Walk-in Clinic’?
Anyway, I digress. For a walk-in clinic, it is not at all well signposted, so I ambulated around the hospital for some time before I actually found it.
I checked in, assured them that my birthday, address, GP, next of kin, etcetera, had not changed since I was last here nine days ago, sat as instructed in the waiting area and prepared for a long wait with a good book (‘The Making of Her’ by Susie Nott-Bower, should you be interested). However, I had barely read a single sentence when I was summoned to sit on a comfy chair in a curtained cubicle to be attended to.
I answered all the nurse’s questions, described the numbness and tingling that had prompted my casualty visit last weekend, and had my vital signs measured.
Then the doctor came, and examined me. This involved her getting me to squeeze her fingers, prodding me and asking if it hurt, and then checking out my armpits. There are some examinations that hurt, some that make you scream, some that make you wince. But this one, as you can probably imagine, makes you giggle.
After the doc popped for a quick consult with the consultant, she returned to give me the lowdown. My lymph nodes are a bit enlarged and have probably trapped a nerve. There is no need for an ultrasound (which I imagine would have been a bit like having someone else roll on your deodorant). There is also no need to wear the sleeve that some women have to wear in this situation if they have swelling in the arm (which is a trifle disappointing, as I had been discussing with my friend Grace the possibility of designing some particularly cool ones). Instead, I leave with just the reassurance that the pain, numbness and tingling will probably reduce over time, and an instruction to return if they do not.
I went from the hospital to the gym. From sickness to health. Sort of.
Do you feel relieved? asked my partner this evening. Honestly, I don’t think I feel anything. Going to the hospital get get shit checked out is just the way I roll these days. It’s part of life.