I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate being poked about. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it like a feral cat hates it. My every instinct is to bear my teeth, punch, hiss, bite, wee on the poker-abouter, run off with my hair all fuffed up and hide under the thorniest hedge I can find. Yet we have to go to the doctor’s. It’s a fact of life.

Generally, I prefer to keep my doctor’s appointments on a strictly hands-off basis. We exchange “good mornings” and maintain a civilised four feet of airspace between us at all times. I approve of this. Surely, if there is something to be prescribed for, a description should suffice. It’s not as if I’m short of adjectives, eff eff ess, I have to lop a cornucopial surplus of them out of everything I write, the bastards multiply like unattended wire coathangers.

However, sometimes we have to let the doctor come into physical contact with us. Today was one of those days. On those occasions I will spend several days beforehand becoming increasingly tense. On this occasion that tension expressed itself, last night, in a very broken night’s sleep which culminated in a dream where the Grand National was run using zebras, commentated upon by Alan Partridge. At Beecher’s Brook, there was the inevitable pile-up of zebras, and Partridge’s voice could be heard, shouting “TOTAL. ZEBRA. CHAOS!” I woke up. There was nothing for it. Sleep was over. I lay there with my hackles up and my jaw clenched.

I don’t mind needles. I’ve had tons of surgery. I don’t mind that, (because before anyone touches you when you go in for surgery, they hit you up with a massive dose of Class “A” drugs, and the whole world turns into a magic garden, with Lucozade fountains and rainbow chimp butlers. You really don’t notice them rolling you onto the gurney, and if you do, your reaction is “Ha ha haaaa! Brilliant!”) It’s not about pain – I don’t mind pain at all. I mind people touching me.

On the rare occasion I like and trust someone well enough to want them to put their hands on me, they will receive a flight of gold-edged, very specific invitations. And they should still check availability on the day, because it changes. I spook.

I’m not being a stroppy patient[1]. I’m being a traumatised patient.

The kindest thing would be to hit me with a tranquilliser dart, like an escaped lion. Once every five years or so I’d answer the door to a knock, and there would be a bunch of people in white coats, with a big tranq gun. I’d make a break for it and be halfway over the garden fence when a soft “Ptiu!” would sound, and a red tuft would appear on one buttock. I’d slump bonelessly across the clematis, and they’d pull me down and put me in one of those black hammock things to weigh me, do a dental, trim my claws, and fit me with a radio collar.

I would pay good money for such a health plan. It would be for the best for EVERYONE.

It’s not a problem with doctors, I’m the same way about masseurs, beauty therapists, nail technicians, or those people who do your harness up when you go climbing.

Anyway, I went, on jelly legs, and I didn’t bite anyone and I probably seemed perfectly normal, from the outside. And I was prodded about and I came home and had a cry and did a bit of a sick, and then went for a walk and some chips, and now I feel horrible and like a big exiled-from-humanity failboat of fail.

If I ever get an illness that requires more hands-on intervention than a simple “knock her out, operate and send her home”, I am screwed.

[1] A doctor always pipes up at this point and says “But we’re only trying to help you!” Yes. I know that. But I couldn’t be more afraid of you if you were KNITTED OUT OF GIANT SPIDERS.

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13 Responses to Touch.

  1. particle_person says:

    “And they should still check availability on the day, because it changes.”

    Yeah, that is me too. Is there a flower called the Touch-Me-Not? Cause I would BE that flower.

  2. elaine4queen says:

    poor little bobbin!

    i have had a little too much speculum action for my liking. i’d rather be operated on than have a vaginal exam. mind you, i am much the same about dentists. me, and martin amis.

    • chiller says:

      They can do ANYTHING they want to me, if they knock me out first. That’s my rule.

      With doctors.

      • elaine4queen says:

        i would really love it if they would.

        i used to get knocked out every time i went to the dentist because of the fibro and everything. it was awesome. nice to be a bit off my head, too – since i don’t do that IRL any more.

      • chiller says:

        I’m going to do the same (with dentist). Sounds as if you don’t do that any more (get KO’ed by dentist) – mind if I ask why?

      • elaine4queen says:

        my dentist absconded elsewhere, and the new one said she wouldn’t do it. but i have moved house since then so have it all to play for. no idea why one would and another wouldn’t, whether it was a personal thing or some sort of change of policy, or one being prepared to bend rules and another not? worth asking, i reckon. i did have to pay for it, like £50 i think, but worth it in my opinion.

      • chiller says:

        Some do sedation, some don’t. Nobody does a full GA any more because the rules changed. I think whether they do sedation or not depends on whether they have someone trained in anaesthesia. Rendering someone unconscious always has medical risks associated. However, LOADS of dentists do sedation these days, so you’ll be ok, I reckon!

      • elaine4queen says:


        you usually have to bring a ‘responsible adult’ with you. i find that ‘responsible adult’ translates as ‘someone who doesn’t mind you mocking them while you are off your face’.

  3. Hester says:

    Your subconscious is basically a genius. They should actually run a Grand National with Zebras, commentated by Alan Partridge. I would pay to see that, and I have absolutely no interest in normal horse-racing. My sister knows Alan Partridge, shall I ask her to suggest it?

    As for doctors, you poor thing, that sounds horrible. Can you ask them to provide you with beta blockers or something, for next time? Not quite the same as pre-op meds (haha haa! Brilliant!), but they might help take the edge off? Or would they need to prod you before prescribing those?

    • chiller says:

      We’ve concluded this about my subconscious before, haven’t we? I ought to just stand back and let the thing drive, it would be amazing. Also probably illegal, but hey.

      Hell YES, suggest to Mr Partridge, particularly the use of the shouted phrase “Total zebra chaos”, which, even from a stress dream, made me emit a little bark of laughter as I woke.

      Love the idea about beta-blockers. MAN, why didn’t I think of that? I’m going to ask for some. I don’t suffer anxiety about many things, but this was genuinely falling-over-throwing-up horrible.

  4. Lilian says:

    >>I’m not being a stroppy patient[1]. I’m being a traumatised patient.
    That is a great phrase. I’d quite like it on a badge or t-shirt so I can wear it when I see a doctor. 🙂 I feel much the same as you about this whole being touched thing. I don’t really like people I actually like touching me, and when it comes to members of the medical profession I would rather do a great many things than have to be touched by one of them. Unlike you, I *am* also afraid of needles, or indeed other invasive procedure, which is not great for someone who has a long-term health condition and has to have such things done on a semi-regular basis!
    ….and I think the fact that I have a long-term health condition (congenital heart defect) and have had to have unpleasant things done to me by medical people since I was a very small person is the very reason I now don’t like being touched – hence I like your phrase. I would even go so far (which might be a bit far?) as to say that my/our reactions are a form of post-traumatic stress. Anyway, your phrase makes sense to me.

    Sorry, I have gone on too long. Just discovered your blog, which I am finding interesting and moving. Wishing you well.

    • chiller says:

      Thank you very much!

      I don’t know whether GPs have training in dealing with people who suffer from trauma, but my overall impression is that they don’t. I wish they did.

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