R.I.P. Mervyn Kingston, Priest
Over the weekend we heard the news that the Rev. Mervyn Kingston, a retired Irish Anglican priest had died. Together with his civil partner, Richard, Mervyn had co-founded Changing Attitude Ireland. The work that they have done promoting the inclusion of LGBT people within the Church of Ireland over the last few years has been phenomenal. It was with a heavy heart that I realised that I was unable to make it to Mervyn’s funeral as it was 11am this morning, and although my hospital appointment was at 9.50am, even if everything went according to plan, it would be difficult to see how we would make it out to Holy Trinity Parish Church, Glencraig near Seahill station for the service. It was also going to be difficult for us to get to Downpatrick for the burial. Andrew and I felt sure that if ever there was someone who would understand it was Mervyn.
Up to the Royal we go
This morning saw my latest appointment at the HIV clinic in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. I got to see a new doctor – or rather one that is not new to the clinic but one that I had not seen before. My usual consultant is once again off on maternity leave. It shows that I have not been up there as frequently as I hadn’t even realised that she was with child once more. So today, I was seen by Dr Raymond Maw.
Dr Maw, MB, FRCP, was appointed as a Consultant in Genito-Urinary Medicine at the RVH in 1979* so he has been there for nearly all my thirty-five years. Since he has been there for that long it is clear that he has had to deal with many, many patients who are living with HIV. All the routine information about the results of tests, and the writing of prescriptions for meds, and writing up notes.
I have to say that it was good to see a doctor who could actually write concise and apparently meaningful notes using the lines on the page instead of writing every other line as others tend to. What I did not like was being told that the results were good and that the Viral Load was undetectable, and then an apparent attempt to not tell me the actual results. Unlike with every other doctor up there, it seemed like they were being kept from me. Obviously, I did want to know, so I asked. Seemingly reluctantly, Dr Maw told me, and I said that my friends (and readers) would probably want to know… so here you are—
Well the CD4 and viral load are going the right way, but unfortunately my weight is not.
Fifteen stone! How on earth did I get to being fifteen stone. Worse than that: it’s all but fifteen-and-a-half stone!
The diet is very much going to be needed now… and I haven’t forgotten that I have had some recipes sent in. If anyone has any more, please do send them to me.
Time for a trip to pharmacy
So, after my short session with Dr Maw, it was off to get the bloods taken, and then on down with my yellow prescription to the hospital pharmacy. The prescription was for six months of Eviplera. I was expecting to be told to come back in three months for half the prescription as Dr Maw had suggested that the pharmacy would not issue six months’ worth at a time. On arrival in the very busy pharmacy, I enquired as to how long the wait would be. I was told at least half an hour. With little room in the waiting room, Andrew and I went up to the hospital cafeteria for something to eat and drink to kill the time. And then we went back. Then I found out that there had been a bit of a mistake with my prescription.
You see, Dr Maw, with all his experience had forgotten to do the one thing that is vital on a prescription. He had not signed the prescription. Amazingly, I had not checked this myself. But one doesn’t! One expects the doctor—especially a consultant with over thirty years of experience—to not make this simple mistake. So I was sent back up to the clinic to get him to sign it. On arrival in the clinic two of the clerical staff knew from my reappearance that something was up. Thanks go to Declan for going on the hunt for Dr Maw and then finally getting the prescription signed. So armed with my signed prescription, it was time to head back down to the pharmacy. And then we ran into George.
Not in the bunker anymore
George is the new Corinne. But that is not quite fair. Corinne was my first social worker and she saw me through some very bad points in my life with HIV. Just over a year ago she retired and the Belfast Trust recruited another member of the team. This is George. He told me how well I was looking, I was able to introduce him to Andrew for the first time and we ended up chatting as we headed back down to pharmacy. Corinne had always joked that the offices for the HIV Regional Social Work team based at the RVH were like being in a bunker. The bunker was the old Accident and Emergency department and it really looked like it. I asked George if he was still in the bunker, and was told that they were not. Temporarily they are based in another set of offices, but are not going to be going back to the bunker. At this point in time, they are not sure where they will end up, but it won’t be back in the bunker. The only reason they are not currently in the bunker was that there was a problem with the sewerage. So, now we’re wondering where they will end up.
Six months of drugs
On arrival back in the pharmacy, I got handed a bag of drugs. Six months’ worth of drugs. Using a figure from the Mid Mersey Medicines Management Board from last year,† that could be about £3,192 worth of meds. If it were not for the Northern Ireland Health Service, it is hard to see how we could afford that. I know that there are others across the world who have to pay for their drugs. I am so glad that we do not.
So it is now six months until I have my next appointment. I wonder what the results will be by then. Of course the results given to me then will only be from today. We still haven’t got up to sending results by text. That is another battle altogether!
Back to the law degree…
Second half of my fifth law assignment now has to be written. Using this blogpost as an excuse is not a valid delaying tactic any longer.
* from Dr Raymond Maw MF FRCP (stdclinics.ie)
† Eviplera Prescribing Policy Statement (midmerseymmb.nhs.uk)
i always thought your cd4 count had to be under 50 to be classed as undetectable!!!
I think you might be mixing up CD4 count and viral load counts. The clinic wants the CD4 (white blood cells) number to go up, and the viral load (amount of HIV circulating in you) to go down.
I’m sorry for the loss of Rev Kingston.
I could fill the entire internet with posts about procrastinating law school assignments, just saying.