When Is M.E. Not a Neurological Condition?

30 Oct

Answer: When it is time for a flu jab.

"The One Ring" from J.R.R. Tolkien's...

“The One Ring” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s works (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If only medical reception phones worked like this


The NHS gives free flu jabs every year for those with certain conditions, including pregnancy and anything neurological.  I freely admit the Hub is not pregnant, but he has M.E. which is most definitely a neurological condition.

Unless I try to book his jab, that is.  Every year we go through the same much ado about something important:

Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring [The phone in the doctor’s surgery] 

Receptionist: Hello, this is your medical centre speaking.  How may I obstruct you?

Tilly Bud: Hello Beautiful Lady, Keeper of the Appointment Book.  Please may I book a flu jab for my husband if it’s not too much trouble for your Kindly Beautifulness?

Reception [Barks]: Name?

Tilly Polite: The Hub.

Loooooooooong pause.

Recepti [Grunts]: Of number street name?

Tilly Politer: That’s right, O Clever Hoarder of the Surgery Pens.

Recep [Indignant]: He’s not eligible.

Tilly Desperate [Sigh – inaudible to avoid provoking the beast]: We have this discussion every year, dear Starched Muffin of the GPs.  He has M.E., which is a neurological condition.  If you don’t mind checking his record, Lovely Tracker of the Public Toilet Toilet Paper, you will see that he has had the jab every year.

Rec [Reluctant but Dutiful]: I’ll have to speak to the nurse and get back to you. Wait by the phone.  Do not take toilet breaks.  Do not pass/go.  Let your bladder burst and soil your seat before leaving the designated hearing-of-the-ringing-telephone area.  I will make one call only.  No reply from you, and I will disappear from the face of the earth with any possible appointment that may or may not be offered or not offered to your alleged eligible spouse.  Do you understand these conditions as I have explained them to you?  DO YOU?

Tilly Terrified: Yes, O She Who Wields All The Power.  Thank you for your great mercy to this humble supplicant.

R: Don’t mention it.  No, seriously, don’t mention it.  I don’t want the other patients knowing I have a softer side.  [Hangs up]

Tilly waits.


And waits.

Still waiting.

Yellow pool starts to rise.


55 Responses to “When Is M.E. Not a Neurological Condition?”

  1. idiosyncratic eye October 30, 2012 at 12:45 #

    There’s something about doctor surgery’s receptionists, isn’t there? At my old practice you virtually had to produce a death certificate to be allowed to book an appointment, at the new place they’re actually fairly decent. I’d rather take my chances with flu then be stabbed though! 😉


    • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife November 1, 2012 at 12:41 #

      The second-scariest receptionists after medical are school receptionists. Terrifying people.


      • idiosyncratic eye November 1, 2012 at 18:35 #

        Yes actually, one of ours was absolutely eeeevil and would never let me leave school even if it was for an appointment! 😉


  2. vivinfrance October 30, 2012 at 12:47 #

    We don’t have to have doctor to give it here: we go to the clinic in the village, any day we please, and the nurse jabs us wherever the fancy takes him/her (we have both here). How about emigrating to France?


  3. judithatwood October 30, 2012 at 13:05 #

    Either you called one of my doctors’ offices, or The Blessed Maiden-in-control of Everything and the Running Comments is your gal’s twin!


  4. adinparadise October 30, 2012 at 13:17 #

    I love the way you did this conversation, Tilly. So many of these doctor’s receptionists are definitely in the wrong job. If you weren’t ill when you first call them, you certainly feel sick by the time they’ve done verbally abusing you.


  5. Joanne frank October 30, 2012 at 13:32 #

    It’s the same at my surgery except this year they seem to have got the hang of it x


  6. SchmidleysScribbling October 30, 2012 at 13:37 #

    Oh Goodness me, and NHS is the envy of the world? I think not. Dianne


  7. mairedubhtx October 30, 2012 at 13:39 #

    At least you have health care. We have to wait and then pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of getting poked in the arm with a sharp instrument. Of course, now we can also pay an arm and a leg and go to get a shot at the pharmacy who knows nothing about you and your previously existing conditions. You take your chances. What a system, if it can be called that.


  8. Katharine Trauger October 30, 2012 at 13:43 #

    Go before you go to the phone. Or get a cordless and make calls in the (is it a loo over there? I think so.) loo.

    Jis sayin


  9. sarsm October 30, 2012 at 13:56 #

    My husband gets one free at work every year. It’s not for his benefit, it’s so he doesn’t need two weeks off for the flu or infect other people and everyone needs two weeks off. A very good idea if you ask me. Everyone benefits.

    I’m sorry about the Hub. Neither of you should be treated in this way. He has a condition and lives in a country where he should be properly looked after.

    I hope she at least called you back eventually. Here they mostly don’t.


  10. jmgoyder October 30, 2012 at 14:00 #

    Argh – I know this well. You should publish this in a medical magazine – it’s brilliant!


  11. slpmartin October 30, 2012 at 14:58 #

    Ah…we can even go the pharmacy here to get the shot…makes it quite convenient.


  12. terry1954 October 30, 2012 at 15:59 #

    enjoyed this!!!!


  13. Amiable Amiable October 30, 2012 at 16:22 #

    Medical receptionists are … sickening.


  14. robincoyle October 30, 2012 at 17:27 #

    Do you Brits really call it a “flu jab” not a “flu shot?” I love it. I shall now call in a “flu jab.”


  15. viveka October 30, 2012 at 20:30 #

    As I always said .. you have to be healthy to be sick !!!!! I hope The Hub … gets his jab !!!


  16. bluebee October 30, 2012 at 21:17 #

    The games we have to play to outwit the power freaks. She’s probably jaded from all those who try to rort the system – time for her to change jobs.


  17. kateshrewsday October 30, 2012 at 21:20 #

    Oh, I chuckled, Tilly. You have the starched muffin of the GPs down to a tee. I myself am fortunate to have a GP which is exemplary, helpful and wonderful at all times: but I have been battling with my mother’s GP telephonists. I end up wanting to punch someone, which is, I suppose, a powerful argument for telephone communication. Bravo.A great post about someone who does not appear to have a softer side.


  18. lanceleuven October 30, 2012 at 22:37 #

    So that’s where the lady who used to work in the Post Office works now! I did wonder. I miss a smile… 🙂


  19. laurieanicholslaurieanichols October 30, 2012 at 23:17 #

    Sorry to hear that you have to go through this rigamorol every year. It just isn’t right. I got my flu shot because we have insurance, $1500.00 a month, so I had better get a flu shot. I tell you insurance companies will be the death of us in the U.S. fingers crossed for you and the Hub.


  20. benzeknees October 31, 2012 at 01:27 #

    Canada seems to have come to the conclusion that everyone should have the flu shot every day because you can easily get one at your doctor’s office, local pharmacies, etc. I get one every year, but Hubby won’t.


    • Pseu October 31, 2012 at 23:56 #

      free or not?


  21. Grannymar October 31, 2012 at 16:41 #

    I was put on the at risk list some years ago, so they send me an invitation to attend. The longest part is the 15 minutes we are told to sit and wait after the jab.


  22. Pseu October 31, 2012 at 23:56 #

    I haven’t read all the comments today, but just to add my pennyworth.

    If you don’t qualify under the PGD (patient group directive) the GP should write you an individual prescription, for your specific circumstances. The practice nurse does not have the ‘say so’ and should refer to the GP for specific cases. She is only ‘covered’ to give the jabs for the specified remit under the PGD, which can be read narrowly or broadly.

    I suggest you drop a line to the GP directly and ask for a flu jab for the Hub (in view of his repeated health problems relating to his neurological condition, ME) and one for you as his primary carer. Then make an appointment with him / her, so that you can have them directly from the GP, this year, then ask him or her to add a note to your medical records for future ref in years to come.

    The guidelines for the admin of flu jabs are for ‘a neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy’ – (the ‘for examples’ should cover those who are vulnerable not just the mentioned diagnosis…..)

    and you should get it under the heading
    ” [you are] ….the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

    fingers crossed.


    • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife November 1, 2012 at 12:59 #

      Thanks for this, Pseu.

      I’ll be honest, writing to the GP sounds a bit scary! I didn’t know it was allowed. Seriously.


      • Pseu November 1, 2012 at 16:32 #

        They are only human….

        well Cyclo is anyway 🙂


        • Pseu November 1, 2012 at 16:39 #

          otherwise ring the receptionist and ask to be put on the GP’s telephone call list to discuss an important confidential matter. She needn’t know what it is about.


        • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife November 1, 2012 at 16:45 #

          Can I write to him, then?


          • Pseu November 1, 2012 at 16:48 #

            you’d have to register as a temporary resident….


  23. Helen Cherry November 1, 2012 at 11:33 #

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn annoying.. makes me realise how lucky I am to have delightful GP receptionist.. must tell them next time I’m in there !


  24. Three Well Beings November 2, 2012 at 05:22 #

    Have you tried bribing with Malteasers? Seriously, I’m really sorry. I hate to hear this, although I think that “the keepers of the doctors den” are universally irritating. My dad has been in “heathcare hell” a bit this year and many of his issues could have been eased if the receptionists cared enough to help my parents work through a few minor issues. I’m sending a hug! I think you could use it! 🙂


  25. Perfecting Motherhood November 3, 2012 at 07:21 #

    My current health insurance plan gives free flu shots to all members, because they know it costs them a lot less than dealing with sick people. Can’t complain about free flu shots, right?


  26. Janet Williams November 24, 2012 at 21:38 #

    I’ve had the opposite experience. Ben is on the list for flu jab every year. We received a letter every year, and when I didn’t deal with it, the Beautiful Lady, Keeper of the Appointment Book, rang me last week and said that ‘Ben’s GP asked Ben to come in for a flu jab……”

    The solution could be that the glorious laughing housewife moves down south with her family and there should be world peace and flu jab freely available.


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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