A couple of years ago, after meeting my neurologist for the usual review where we count up the brain lesions, he handed me a leaflet.
Not the usual ‘Coping with MS’ thing, it was a shout-out for volunteer patients to assist medical students with their fourth year clinical exams.
Always up for a challenge and happy to pay back even a tiny bit to our stupendous NHS, I signed up as soon as I got home.
Yesterday was my second time and I was assigned to the ‘Neck Station’, next to the ‘Eye Station’. I was picked up by taxi and whisked to morning coffee (sadly denying myself the chocolate biscuits, pesky low-carb plan) and a chat before the exams started.
I was to present with a sore neck and difficulty swallowing (not too far from the truth sometimes), and was paired up with a doctor. We ran through the scenario, he prodded my neck (weirdly, it seems the Grave’s from Campath might just be playing up again, as I had a ‘thick neck’), so getting into the role wasn’t too much of a stretch.
And it really is like acting; I saw fifteen trembling medical students and of course, it had to be new every single time. I wiped my brain (amazingly easy thanks to MS) before each came round the cubicle.
By student seven, I realised what they should be reporting back to the doctor and willed them to answer correctly; I now knew more about neck swellings than I ever thought possible. They all made me swallow water, stick my tongue out, stand up, sit down. A bit like a PIP assessment but much, much more fun (free neck massages, bonus).
The main downside was the unexpected request to roll my trousers up. Hmm. Hairy legs covered in bruises from my usual habit of walking into doors and walls. A great look, and letting them do it fifteen times was awkward.
Anyway, if you ever get a similar request, I’d give it a go. Apparently the lunch is fabulous (I was stuck with my packed lunch of olives and protein). One particularly wonderful student recited back to the doctor that I was 34, relaxed and happy.
I may not have shaved my legs, but having ten years shaved off my age was priceless.