"Well, was it an emergency?"\n\nI never know how to answer that question! If it was an emergency I'd have gone to the hospital.\n\n[[she looks at you|ok2]]
"I really like a good fight, in the pub after a few drinks"\n\nI think, he really sounds like he does, and sounds like he's a good sport about it. Anyway, nothing to worry about: he says nobody's ever beaten him in a fight. \n\nHe's a car salesman. \n\n[[We chat some more|A47d3]]
I know, I'm probably displacing people with real serious emergencies who might die rather than merely stagnate in misery.\n\n[[..|ok4]]
Anyway, I'm not able to work. If I had a real job I'd have had to get an appointment sooner rather than waiting a month. Just because I know I won't get any worse, that doesn't mean I should write off another month of my life waiting for another god-damned appointment.\n\n[[she looks unconvinced|ok3]]
"Hello, I'm Doctor S, how may I help you?"\n\nThis guy carries himself with confidence. Young, but with clear conservative leanings in his posture. I can feel him sizing up my worth as a human being. It occurs to you that you forgot to shave this morning. You have a feeling this might work against you.\n\n[[I'm super sick all over, Doctor|ok6]]
[[The appointment comes around, after a day of bed-bound miserableness|ok5]]
The doctor examines you, asks you questions.\n\n"Look, you're a mess. Your problems are most likely due to your lifestyle. Drink more water."\n\n[[I knew I should have shaved|ok7b3]]\n\n[[I've been taking good care of myself. When this happened before, I was given a course of antibiotics and things cleared up. I don't think this is due to not drinking enough water|ok7b]]
"I'm afraid she's a bit booked up right now. We can get you an appointment with her Tuesday in three weeks time, if that's okay?"\n\n[[That'd be great. What time?|ok10]]
[[Hi, I'd like to make an appointment to see Doctor E?|ok9]]
"How are you feeling today, Stephen?"\n\nSame old same old.\n\n"Have you been spending lots of time in bed still?"\n\n[[Yes, I can't function very well out of bed|doc2]]\n\n[[No, but I've been pretty wrecked. I don't know if it's worth the tradeoff|doc2]]
[[Lying flat on the couch, trying to work, but, struggling to stay awake|A42b3]]
[[The floor looks comfortable|A42b4a]]\n\n[[Zzzzzz|A42b4b]]
You go back to your normal routine, then. Working all day in bed, and desperately trying to do some exercise in the evenings to make it conscionable. \n\nLying in bed, you can feel yourself wasting away. You wish you had a different way of being productive. But you gotta be productive, you gotta get stuff done.\n\n[[You hope you're not being too much of a burden to your flatmates|A42a2]]
You were sitting at the table, you're almost sure.\n\n[[But you now find yourself sitting back on on the couch|A42b2]]
You roll onto the floor. \n\nIt's no so bad.\n\n[[Actually, quite comfortable|floor1]]
You wake up, feeling super groggy.\n\nYour flatmates are sitting around working in the living room.\n\n"Stephen is everything okay? You spend a lot of time asleep on the sofa."\n\n[["Should I try wake you up if I see you asleep?"|A42b4b2]]
The collection was a bit camp, but the guy is still pretty lovely. \n\nYou find yourself having an old fumble about with him in his bed.\n\n[[Uh oh|A47a3]]
"Tell me, Stephen, do you go to your bed because it's a safe place?"\n\n[[No, I go there because I'm tired|doc3]]
You aren't sure how to talk your way out of this one. \n\n[[Just focus on getting him off, hope he doesn't notice that you probably can't ejaculate|A47a4]]\n[[Try really really really really hard, you know you can manage it, just takes a bit more elbow-grease|A47a4]]
She's asked this question on at least half of our appointments. She's doing her best, I'm sure, but it's hard to not feel a slight adverserial element.\n\n[[Time to get to the point.|A44]]
Fortune has struck, by way of him accidentally elbowing you in the nose.\n\n[[owowowowowowowowowowowowowowow|A47a6]]
This is perfect. You get to play the part of the heroic lover who satisfies their lover while suffering immense pain. He is so apologetic, and tries to make efforts to finish me off, but I brush him off\n\n"No, I'm fine, it's not that I'm in immense pain of your causing that I don't feel like coming, it's just that I don't feel in the mood for it"\n\nThe perfect bluff. I feel bad that he feels bad, but I feel good that I've avoided awkwardness.\n\n[[Go back home|A47a7]]
You hope you can meet up with him again, but now probably isn't the best time.\n\n[[You should go to the doctor, tell her you want to get off anti-depressants. They're not making any positive difference by now anyway|A48a]]
You go for a long walk through the fields. While walking around the hedgerows, the path splits.\n\n[[Go left towards the big forest|A7.6a]]\n\n[[Go right around the hedgerow|A7.6b]]\n\n
After checking in with the receptionist.\n\nYou sit down and whip out a book by the name of ''Gravity's Rainbow''. Queues and waiting rooms are the best places for reading. But this book is a bit too punishing. You watch a TV documentary about A&E departments instead. It puts you at ease.\n\n\n\n[[Sexual health clinic waiting rooms tend to have super sexy people in them|A8]]
Probably nothing, a dog scuffling maybe, but it creeps you out. \n\n[[You scurry back to the STD clinic, and check in at reception|A7.5b]]
Ring ring. Yes hello, can I make an appointment with my doctor?\n\n"Is it an emergency?"\n\nWell...\n\n[[Yes|DC2A]]\n\n[[No|DC2b]]
An eternity stretches out before you.\n\nThree weeks, in which you will not be able to function, in which you will not be able to work, in which you will not be able to anything except mope around. \n\nYou aren't worried that what you're experiencing might be signs of something more serious, it's just the pain and, increasingly, tiredness, that are driving you nuts in and of themselves. The frustration is unbearable, the wait is unbearable. \n\n[[Stock up on frozen dinners, to ensure a ready supply of accessible food, and start downloading some HBO series|postphone1.5]]
You mope your way to the living room, where your flatmate sits, working.\n\nYou ask [[It's okay for me to book an emergency appointment, right?|ok1]]
Even futile feelings of love are love. You hadn't experienced anything like it in years. You feel so lucky that you got to experience it at all, you don't feel the least bit bad that it didn't amount to anything in the end.\n\n[[Life must go on|A49]]
You hadn't made a proper decision in a long time. You can't remember, really, the last time you made a decision. Maybe when you decided to work on your own games full time.\n\n[[Life must go on|A49]]
[[Time passes in its usual miserable fashion, and the appointment comes around eventually|A1]]
It's a small trade-off for the chance of feeling better, but it's one you feel quite acutely. \n\nThe handsome man just stares into his phone the whole of the trip back, deflecting all attempts at conversation.\n\n[[That's fair, I did mess things up pretty terribly|A47b10]]
Listening to it was just like watching TV static.\n\n[[Damned anti-depressants|A47b9]]
You get on [[the train|A47b4]], just in time.\n\n
Yes, you were the one who suggested that particular concert.\n\nYes, you were the one who booked the tickets.\n\nNo, you didn't realize it was actually pretty far outside the city.\n\nNo, you have no idea how to get there. \n\nHe gets his smartphone out. You wish you had a smartphone.\n\n[[Dash to get the train north|A47b3]]
He's being lovely, but he must also be a bit pissed.\n\nWe're going to arrive half an hour late. Will miss the concerto, but should make the symphony.\n\n[[Dash to the concert hall|A47b6]]
You get on the wrong train.\n\n[[Get off the train, and get the next train back to the station.|A47b5]]\n
Muddy, awful, terrible. A thousand things to talk about other than how it made me feel\n\n[[Because I felt nothing|A47b8]]
He is on intimate terms with all of Beethoven's symphonies. You're not quite so familiar, but this is the 9th, the big one.\n\n[[A terrible performance follows|A47b7]]
You meet up with the guy at the train station when you get in. He is very well put together. Nice coat, nice personality, quite handsome. \n\nThough, later, you notice, he spends rather too much time on his phone.\n\n[[Head to the concert...|A47b2]]
As quickly as you can imagine, you find yourself caught up in a swirl of amorous desire. You think about him every moment of every day. \n\nYou don't know what's going to happen with him. Nothing's happened yet, but you have to pull out all the stops.\n\nYour first obligation to him is to allow for sex. You've been on anti-depressants long enough now anyway, to know that they're not having a positive effect\n\n[[Make an appointment to see your Doctor|A47c2]]\n
Coffee quickly turns to something else. You find yourself back at his place.\n\n"Check out my action figure collection"\n\n[[Uh oh|A47a2]]
You wait four weeks, dutifully taking your antidepressants.\n\nAfter four weeks, you go to the doctor, tell her they're not having much effect, that you're pottering along in the same way as ever.\n\nShe prescribes you a tapered dose - four weeks of reduction, then to come back to her.\n\nAfter four weeks you go back, and another four weeks.\n\nAnd then you're clear of that hurdle. \n\n[[Life must go on|A49]]
"Okay then, I'll slot you in for an appointment in four weeks time."\n\n[[Thanks so much, have a lovely day|A48a3]]
His concern is touching.\n\nSame old same old, you tell him. Just trying to stay out of my bedroom for a couple of weeks, see if I can get over this tiredness that way.\n\n[["Ok, Stephen"|A43]]
Yes, please, when's the soonest I can see Doctor E?\n\n"I'm afraid she's on holidays right now, and won't be back for two weeks."\n\n[[It can wait.|DC2WAIT]]\n\n[[Could I get an appointment with somebody else sooner?|DC2B]]
"Let's see, we can fit you in with Doctor S on Thursday, if it's an emergency."\n\n[[Great, what time?|greatwhattime]]\n\n[[I can wait for Doctor E|DC2WAIT]]
Hi, I'd like to book an appointment.\n\n"Doctor E is busy this week, and on holiday from next week. Is it an emergency?"\n\n[[No|A48a2]]
I guess not. \n\n[[When's the soonest I can see Doctor E?|DC2WAIT]]
Hi I'd like to make an appointment with Doctor E.\n\n"I'm afraid she's booked up this week, and on holidays from next week for a fortnight. Is it an emergency?"\n\n[[No|A47c3]]
Okay then, I'll schedule you for three weeks time.\n\n[[Go cold turkey|A47c4b]]
[[WHACK. Bam. Pain.|A47a5]]
Yes, this be the demon unrequited love. But how sweet an experience it was. \n\nIt's the first time in my life I've ever disobeyed doctor's orders, [[but I have no regrets.|A47c7]]
"Stephen, that was a really dangerous thing to do. You could have gone into colvunsions. If I knew you were going to be so irresponsible I wouldn't have prescribed you that."\n\nMy doctor does not approve. But she doesn't ask why I did it. I also think I catch her saying something about not prescribing me similarly risky drugs in the future. So maybe I shouldn't have told her the truth. \n\nBut honestly I don't care. I made a decision as a conscious agent, motivated by feelings of love, and regret is impossible under such circumstances.\n\n[[Delicious agency|A47c8a]]\n\n[[Delicious love|A47c8b]]
Over the next week, you get a little bit jitterier than you would like, but, you find yourself slowly waking up to the wonders of the world again, and in the company of someone who brings you real pleasure, [[even if they don't realise it|A47c6]].
Things are muted. You've done this before. You don't feel any benefit, and the downsides are, if not alarming, certainly annoying. You decide to give chasing men a shot.\n\n[[Go out for coffee with an attractive Indian guy|A47a]]\n\n[[Go to a music concert with a nice guy in London|A47b]]\n\n[[Chat up a rugby player|A47d]]\n\n[[Fall in love|A47c]]
You do chat to him the following weekend briefly, and mention in passing that you weren't moved by the concert.\n\n"Oh, just like the museum you went to last week as well. You're hard to please."\n\nHe has a point, I'm not feeling things, and it's a pain. I've been trying out anti-depressants for 6 weeks now, to no success. It's time to call it off.\n\n[[Go to book an appointment with Doctor E|A48a]]
Doctor, you mentioned antidepressants before as a possible treatment. I'm willing to give them a shot. \n\nI was super depressed many years ago. The experience of this sickness is a thousand miles away. It's always perfectly reasonably frustration that saps my energy as opposed to anything identifiable as despair.\n\n[["Okay, let's try that then, Stephen"|A45]]
"There's one very important thing, whatever you do, do not stop taking these suddenly."\n\nIt will take something like 6 weeks to taper off, at a minimum. I sure hope I don't fall in love in the interim.\n\n[[I promise I won't stop taking these suddenly|A46]]
It's morning. You've been sitting at the table at your computer for a half hour. You find yourself yawning, struggling to keep awake. \n\nYou know that you could probably get some work done if you went horizontal, but on the other hand, you did make a commitment...\n\n[[Fuck that shit, work is important. I'm off to bed|A42a]]\n\n[[Do not under any circumstances go near your room|A42b]]
[[Oh, look at that, it's time for your doctor's appointment.|doc1]]
You've long been mulling the following trade-off:\n\nIf you're not going to get better, you might as well spend your time working at the expense of your long term health, because you're fucked in the long term regardless.\n\nIf you are going to get better, it's worth devoting a year or two to getting better.\n\nYou don't believe you'll ever fully recover, and nobody has said anything to the contrary. They talk about "getting better" but in the relative sense rather than the "full recovery sense".\n\nYou think of stories of people with really bad chronic fatigue, of their fantastic success stories - after 6 months of being bed bound, of gruelling rehab, they are so much better! they can now go for 5 minute strolls on the beach without collapsing. how lovely for them! what full lives they must lead!\n\n[[It's all about managing expectations|A42]]\n\n[[You're not that bad, you have it so easy|A42]]
Life must go on. \n\nTwo years of this, and you think you've exhausted all the medical avenues, finally. It's quite liberating. You're so happy to not be waiting for a medical appointment.\n\nYou've gotten more used to your diminished abilities. You tire really easily, but you're getting by, doing small bits of work as you can.\n\nYou don't expect to recover fully, ever. But you hope you can make something beautiful. You only need to make one beautiful thing in your life. You think you still have a chance at that, even if it's just a small one.
"I can fit you in three weeks from now on a Friday. Can you make twenty to nine?"\n\n[[That's too far off, can you give me an appointment with someone else a bit sooner?|DC2B]]\n\n[[That would be wonderful, thank you so much.|greatwhattime1]]\n
Do you think they'll have any effect?\n\n"No"\n\nYou are taken aback. You feel that he's written you off as a hypocondriac, that in his notes, he says "might as well send him off with something to shut him up, preferrably something that will make future medical treatments less effective, like antibiotics. Yes, let the scruffy bastard die a few years earlier". This experience will forever alter how you interact with doctors.\n\n[[I don't want them if you don't think they'll work|ok7b3]]
He's just sitting there, looking at you.\n\n[[Thank you, Doctor, and have a nice day.|ok7b4]]
Still bloody sick. \n\nWell, that's five weeks of my life that I won't get back. Maybe it would have been better waiting three weeks to see my regular doctor rather than that terrifying man.\n\n[[Call up the surgery again, book an appointment with Doctor E|ok8]]
You leave.\n\nOkay, you have to try extra extra hard to drink lots of water now, and eat lots of good food. Thinking back about it, your diet is okay, and you drink plenty water, but you didn't think to mention it to the doctor at the time.\n\nAnyway, maybe he is right, maybe you could do better. Time to redouble your efforts against the omnipresent pain and fatigue. \n\nLifestyle criticisms are a bit of a catch 22 when it comes to illnesses, you muse. But you'll try your best.\n\n[[Try your best to eat and drink amazingly|ok7b5]]\n
Three gruelling weeks pass. You force yourself to cook and eat three meals a day, lots of water drank, all the time wondering why such a finely-tuned diet might be the difference between health and sickness whereas before, when you were healthy, you were far more robust in what you could eat.\n\n[[And how are you by the end of the three weeks?|ok7b6]]
"8:40 okay for you?"\n\n[[Yeah, wonderful, thank you so much, and have a lovely day|postphone1]]
You spot a sign, as you enter the trees - there is a river here, and a big chalk deposit, apparently.\n\nIt's a bit eeries - it was bright outside, but here under the canopy it's a bit dark and gloomy.\n\n[[What's that noise?|A.76aa]]
As you turn the corner, you come across a tree nursery. Tens of small, delicate-looking trees laid out in a careful grid. You wonder what they're here for - you doubt that anyone's trying to start a forest in this part of the field, or do tree farming. A mystery.\n\n[[You check your watch - best to be getting back to the hospital|A7.5b]]
<<silently>>\n<<set $visited_E = 0 >>\n<<endsilently>>It has come back. You've been in pain all Christmas, unable to get shit done. \n\n[[Time to call up the doctor.|DC1]]
You go online scouring the medical journals. If ''this'' is what's wrong with you, you might as well try learn more about it.\n\nYou try to keep an open mind, though the relegation of everything of everything that hasn't a detectable physical cause to the realm of the psychological seems a bit unsatisfactory, given that you've already overthought everything twenty times over with no results in therapy. Nonetheless, you are firmly in this population now.\n\n[[It's been over a year now|A38a2]]\n
[[Several weeks pass, until your appointment comes around.|A39]]
He's doing his best. Anyway, that's that.\n\n[[Make an appointment with Dr H|A34]]
"Well, problems like this can be exacerbated by that, so you should probably drink less fizzy drinks and coffee."\n\n[[you sigh|A33]]
"Do you drink fizzy drinks?"\n\n[[No|A32]]
"You'll be happy to know there's nothing wrong with you"\n\n"But if you're having some problems, maybe some lifestyle changes might help."\n\n"Do you drink coffee?"\n\n[[No|A31]]
You've been sick for over a year now. Not critically sick, not fearing death, just sick enough to make life shit and frustrate the delicate existence that allowed you to make computer games.\n\n[[Research psychosomatic illnesses|A38a]]\n\n[[Book an appointment with Doctor E|A38b]]
"No"\n\nOkay then, thanks for straight with me.\n\nWe exchange some further pleasantries, and he shakes my hand as I leave. Firm and lovely, but also final. Closure acquired on that avenue of investigation. He tells me it's best to look into psychological possibilities, and that Doctor E is better suited for that. \n\n[[Thank you very much, Doctor, and have a good day|A37]]
Dr H inquires after my health as I follow him in the office, I bring him up to date, and he looks through the reports from the hospital.\n\n"Stephen look, I have a big flowchart of various things that we can look into. At each stage I will prescribe you some more treatments, and at each stage I will tell you that I think there's a good chance that they will fix your problems."\n\n[[Ok. Do you think that I have any of them, do you think the the medicines will have any effect?|A36]]
Dr H is dreamy. Did I mention that? Dreamy. \n\nAfter a couple of weeks spend fighting the usual battle to achieve a satisfactory state of mental clarity and convincing my therapist that I am not worried about money, [[my doctor's appointment comes around|A35]]
He looks at you. He does not approve of you.\n\n"I can prescribe you some antibiotics, if you'd like"\n\n[[If I'd ''like''?!|ok7b2]]
"Stephen, thanks for coming."\n\n"How have you been feeling?"\n\nsame old same old\n\n"How are things coming along with the therapist?"\n\nhe's lovely, but no revelations\n\n"You're spending a lot of time in bed, it's not good for you"\n\n[[I know that, but I can do some work from bed, the alternative is to spend my days in a stupour.|A40a]]\n\n[[I try to exercise in the evenings.|A40b]]
[[But, if you think it's so imporatant, then I'll make a big effort to stay out of bed|A41]]
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You know that, even after three weeks when you get to see her, if you follow her directions it'll take a minimum of 6 weeks to go off.\n\nYou know, for a fact, that your one obligation in life right now is to delight in this man's company. There's no question about what's the right thing to do.\n\n[[You feel a little fuzzy|A47c5]]
Dozing repeatedly on the floor results in a curious change of mindset. Now, when you find yourself in a public place, and tired, instead of looking around for benches to sit on, your first reaction is always to look downwards and wistfully think "that looks like a comfortable floor, would love to just lie down there and have a good snooze".\n\n[[This thought entertains you|A43]]
We chat some more, and I think I will never forget his love of fighting, but nothing comes of it. \n\nSix weeks pass, and I'm no better for taking the anti-depressants, and the downsides are irritating.\n\n[[Go book an appointment with Doctor E|A48a]]
You used to be mister high energy, and now you're, well, a bit of a drag. This isn't what they signed up for.\n\nAt least you have some money.\n\nYou try your best to be good company nonetheless, and hope they can suffer your general crapness.\n\n[[Another doctor's appointment swings around|doc1]]
"Stephen, how have you been doing?"\n\nLess pain, but...really bad fatigue, making it hard to do work, but I am doing a little.\n\n"Well, that's wonderful news isn't it?"\n\nI guess it is.\n\n"Have you been seeing the therapist? How is that going?"\n\nHe's helping me deal with getting stressed about being sick, but, no other underlying issues - I'm trying really hard.\n\n"Now, on the medical treatment front, I was talking to Doctor H, he showed me this really wonderful website that had a list of things to try out next for your symptoms"\n\n[["Let's see if I can bring it up"|A21]]
Five minutes of searching around online, she admits defeat.\n\n"Well, I can't bring up his recommendations, but I can prescribe you some GRG£$G£$G£$G. How about that?"\n\n[[Doctor, I like you, but I'm not sure I trust your judgement or expertise on this|A22]]
"Stephen, thank you for telling me that. I know it's very hard, and I appreciate it. If you like, you can book an appointment to go see Dr H directly. He specialises in your symptoms, and might be able to help."\n\n[[You book an appointment with Doctor H|A23]]
You wait a week for the next appointment.\n\n"Stephen, thanks for coming. I talked to Doctor E about you. I think there's a chance you might have DAJISODJASD. That would explain the fatigue and pain. I can book you an appointment for the hospital now, to get an ultrasound exam."\n\n[[Sounds exciting, sign me up|A24]]
"They usually have a waiting list of a couple of months..."\n\n[[Uffff|A25]]\n\n[[Okay, I can manage until then|A25]]
"But in your case, owing to some odd technicality, you're going to the unit where old people who might have cancer go, so you should get seen within the week."\n\n[[Wohoo!|A25.5]]
A couple of weeks past. You go to the Hospital one evening. You wait around, observing your fellow miserable souls.\n\nYou lie down, he jellys up your belly and has a look around on his scanner. You find the imagery fascinating\n\nhe concludes thusly:\n\n[["You'll be happy to know that there's nothing wrong with you"|A27]]
"You'll be happy to know that there's nothing wrong with you"\n\nYou forgot to mention to the player, but Dr E had warned you that specialists can be a bit myopic in their investigations. If they find nothing, then nothing's there. And so it is. \n\n"You should call into the day clinic in a couple of weeks to have some more tests done, but, really, there's very likely nothing wrong"\n\nEven with that rather unwelcome non-news, you find yourself relieved, at least they've done that test that you had been worrying about.\n\n[[Wait another two weeks, go back to the clinic|A28]]
You call into a clinic filled with rather grim looking elderly people. You yearn for the lurid patientscape of the STD clinic waiting room.\n\nThere's a backlog. You wait for well over an hour. You memorize a shakespeare sonnet in the duration. You hadn't mentioned it to the player, but you had been memorizing shakespeare sonnets while in medical waiting rooms. It's not a bad way to pass the time.\n\nYou're poked and measured in various ways, until [[you find yourself directed to the room at the end to speak to one of the specialists|A29]]
[[And can you guess what joyful, happy news he has to bring me|A30]]
Yes, that would be wonderful. Thank you so much.\n\n"Have a good day"\n\nYou too\n\n[[Slump back into bed, clutching your stomach, crying|postphone1]]
Hey, how're you doing?\n\nThe rugby player tells you he is quite well.\n\nNames, pleasantries are explained.\n\nYou inquire whether he has any hobbies or past-times.\n\n[["I really like a good fight"|A47d2]]
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"Come in at ten"\n\nWonderful, thank you so much.\n\n"Have a good day"\n\n[[Slump back into bed, clutching your stomach|postphone2]]
Don't be silly, they're doing their best.\n\n[[Three weeks have passed, time for your appointment!|A16]]
You wonder if things would be different if you weren't self-employed. If you had to ask for a sick note, maybe the Doctor would feel more obliged to speed things up. You trust that they're doing the right thing, but, well, you're not sure. \n\n[[Maybe you should stand up more for yourself|A15]]\n\n[[It's important to be nice to your doctors|A15b]]
No, I really don't have any worries about money. \nNo, I don't have any relationship problems.\nNo, I love my work more than anything (when I can do it).\nThe only source of stress in my life is being sick. \nI am sick all the time, and waiting all the time. \nI try to get by, but it's a miserable existence.\nI will try to cope better with the stress that being sick causes.\n\n"And, you should try to get yourself a boyfriend".\n\nWell, I'll do my best. \n\n(You actually quite like that advice, truth be told.)\n\nEven though you denied to the therapist that these everyday things were causing problems, you feel you have to do due diligence on these matters, so, even though you have pride in your self-awareness, you try to thrash out your thoughts, to apply real skepticism to your beliefs. Maybe you are really worried about money? Maybe you do have relationship problems? \n\nThe process of trying to disbelieve things that are intuitively true is...well, you're not entirely certain it's a healthy one. \n\n[[As the month passes|A18]]
"How are you doing, Stephen?"\n\nOh she has such a lovely concerned voice. I'm doing about the same.\n\nYes, I can fill out this depression/anxiety questionnaire. \n\nSure, I'm pretty down, I haven't been able to work in six months. \n\n"Often psychological problems have physical manifestations, I don't know for sure, it's just an avenue of investigation, but I'd recommend you see a therapist. If you like, we can investigate other medical possibilities in parallel. \n\nI've been talking to another Doctor at the clinic who specializes in your sorts of problems, and he's recommended a course of XJAISOFJWAOIFJW. Come back in a month if things haven't cleared up."\n\n[[Take delicious medicines, and go see the therapist|A17]]
Hello, I'm calling up about my results.\n\nYes, my patient number is ######.\n\nsure I can\n\ndum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum\n\noh, hello?\n\noh, yes\n\nyes\n\noh, that's wonderful news\n\nthank you very much, and have a lovely day!\n\n[[It's not wonderful news|A12]]
Well, you expect within a healthcare system like the NHS that, so long as you are able to scrub toilets, there's essentially nothing wrong with you. "What's wrong with being a toilet scrubber?", you feel they might interrogate, when you explain that you are so sick that you cannot do work that demands intellectual engagement and a clear head "There's nothing functionally wrong with people who scrub toilets, that's as good a work as any, you need to just suck it up and stop moping, let us get to people who are seriously sick".\n\nNobody deserves to make art, and being incapacitated to the extent that you can't produce works of beauty is hardy an impediment worth paying much attention to.\n\nBut you know that's not true. The doctors are doing their best. But you think it anyone sometimes, because it feels true.\n\n[[Two weeks have passed, You have watched The Wire, you didn't like it very much.|A11]]
Hi, I'd like to make an appointment with Doctor E.\n\nNo, it's not an emergency.\n\nOh, she's on holidays? Three weeks is fine, grand.\n\nThank you so much.\n\n[[Be sick for three more weeks|A14]]
What you wouldn't have given to be diagnosed with some terrible (but treatable) std that would explain everything.\n\n[[Oh well, time to call up the old Doctor E.|A13]]
As you call up the surgery, it occurs to you that you should have booked the appointment in advance. You think of how many weeks, months, less you would have spent waiting if you had though of this sensible strategy before. \n\nHi, I'd like to book an appointment with Doctor E. No, it's not an emergency. That's fine. Thanks.\n\n[[Anyway, another fortnight's wait won't kill you|A20]]
As the month passes, your pain lessens, but the fatigue lingers. \n\nYou begin to be able to work again. Small things, but, it's something. Work cheers you up.\n\n[[End of month, you're still basically sick, go see your doctor|A19]]
You slept in a bit. Oh shit. \n\nDashing as fast as you can, you arrive in ten minutes late, rushing upstairs from the secretary's desk to the waiting room.\n\nYou see Doctor E walking down the corridor looking for you.\n\n[[Yes, Doctor, I know, I'm really sorry|A2]]\n\n[[Good morning, Doctor|A2]]
Though, at the same time as apologising, you think how many times you've been to the doctor in the past couple of years and [[mentally forgive yourself on statistical grounds|A4]]
"Stephen, it's really important that you make your appointments on time, especially early morning ones. It can throw my whole day off"\n\n[[I'm sorry, it won't happen again|A3]]
She examines you, and nothing seems to stick out at her. She also makes you take a mood-measurement questionnaire. You're pretty down. No surprises there.\n\n"You should go book an appointment with the Clinic 1A in Addenbrooke's Hospital"\n\nThis is the third time in the past year your doctor has recommended you go to the STD clinic. The previous two times turned up nothing. But, what the hell, she's the doctor and she knows best.\n\n[[Thank you very much, I'll go book the appointment now, and if it turns up nothing, I'll come back and see you|A6]]
She examines you. \n\n"Are you sexually active?"\n\n(You know where this is going)\n\n[[Yes|A5]]
You arrive at the hospital early. It's a fairly long trek, busses are sporadic, and you err on the side of caution, always ending up there about an hour early. \n\nSouth of the hospital are some meadows. You've grown quite fond of walking in the meadows when you arrive early to the hospital.\n\n[[Go for a walk|A7.5a]]\n\n[[Go queue up early at the clinic|A7.5b]]\n\n
And so you do. At least the STD clinic has waiting times of only a couple of days.\n\n[[Go to your appointment|A7]]
Despair has become a sporadic visitor to your life. \n\nA friend told you a story "I have a friend. He came down with some terrible back pains. I saw him last year. He is rather ''diminished'' as a person."\n\nYou feel ''diminished'' as a person. This has been going on for six months, it ebbs and flows, but [[you are not able to do the work you once could.|A10]]\n\n
But you think better of hitting on anyone.\n\nYou get your urethra and rectal swabs done, blood and urine sampled, and are sent on your way. Two weeks until results are in. \n\nThey'll call you if anything comes up.\n\n[[Begin another two weeks of waiting, two miserable fucker weeks|A9]]
What a waste of a year, you think. But you gotta make the best of it. \n\n[[Make an appointment to see Doctor E|A38b]]
You read once in a medical journal the following passage:\n\n"Other authors found that a group of doctors most disliked patients with psychiatric symptoms and concluded that dislike could be used as a diagnostic tool for psychiatric illness"\n\nYou made a note at that point to always be super lovely to your doctor.\n\n[[Three weeks have passed, time for your appointment!|A16]]
"Stephen, spending so much time in bed can have serious long term problems. You should try to stay up more often, even just a little bit. It's important"\n\n[[I'll do my best|A41]]\n\n
"Do you think you go there because it's a safe place?"\n\n[[I go there because I can sleep there|A40a2]]
"I have to emphasize, you do not have cancer."\n\n[[I do not have cancer. Noted. |A26]]\n\n