My GP’s waiting room is a collection of blue chairs, scattered around tables with old Mojo and Country Life magazines, and the walls are covered in posters for diabetes drop-in clinics and stopping smoking advice. I assume most GP surgeries are the same, give or take the annoying radio which plays Smooth FM at deafening volume. I’ve sat on those chairs so many times in the last few years that I know every last stain and blob of walked-in chewing gum on the carpet. I know when the baby drop-in centre runs and how many patients didn’t show for appointments each month. In a way, it’s like a second home.
Today’s appointment was at 9am. I’m getting good at leaving the house on time now; usually I wind myself up into a state of total panic and end up rushing down the road, sweating and coughing like only a chain-smoker can. Although I didn’t sleep well last night – which concluded in a binge – I managed to be ten minutes early. It was only a routine appointment – medicine checks, craziness checks – but I still somehow convinced myself that I’m a “frequent flyer”; somebody who spends their lives hassling GP’s. I feel guilty for the amount of use I’ve had out of the NHS, and although my doctor has reassured me in the past that I’m not wasting anybody’s time, I’m still not convinced.
We chatted about the side-effects I’ve had from Lyrica – dizziness, nausea, stomach upsets – and also discussed the panic attacks I’ve had over the past couple of weeks. I asked if it could be caused by Lyrica, rather than my anxiety getting worse, and he said that although it’s not a common side-effect, it can happen and my history of severe anxiety makes me more likely to react in that way than the usual 1 in 1000. I feel a bit happier knowing it could simply be down to medication; I can cope with that.
He asked how I’ve been doing on Lyrica otherwise, and I told him the truth; that I’ve slept properly for the first time in years, I can walk without a stick most days, and that I’m in much less pain. I have considered that perhaps all this is placebo effect, but even if it is… I feel better than I have done in a long time, and I can see a future again. With that in mind, my GP has upped the dose from 150mg a day to 300, and once I’m settled on the right amount he’ll keep me on it long-term. Great news, and again… hope for the future. It feels amazing to know I’m still being taken seriously by medicine, if not society.