While Eton's old boys demolish Britain, Doris' health saga has escalated apace, so let's ignore global ructions and crack on, to catch up.

To recap; Doris (60s, widow, hates asking for help, not her real name) has excruciating pain she thinks is sciatica. Currently bereft of a doctor because her GP retired, Doris is having trouble obtaining medical advice.

In last week's episode, Primecare sent her packing.

Staggering out of Primecare in rain, tears and agony, she wrestled the unwieldy ute to White Cross and bravely confronted the reception desk. (NB, Doris, while unafraid of heights, sharks, rats and robust debates, is irrationally frightened of health professionals and receptionists).


Probably by now hallucinating with pain and fear, Doris suddenly thought the receptionists behind the White Cross bench looked like three poisonous cane toads protecting precious doctors from desperate patients. Nevertheless, our friend completed the requisite form and read the signs which, to her horror, announced a consultation could cost up to $81.

Oh dear, Doris did not have $81, having just spent $40 on a metre of avocado firewood to burn because winter arrived while she was so incapacitated she was incapable of operating her chainsaw

She had no choice but to bolt. One of the cane toads promised to shred the paperwork.

By the end of the week, she tells me she was climbing the walls with physical torment and could no longer drive, so she made an appointment with the PHO where her former doctor practised. They weren't keen because Doris doesn't attend routine smears, tests and checks-ups. She reckons a bad test result could easily frighten her to death. PHOs however need patients to turn up regularly to maintain government funding; which seems strange to Doris (and to me) because it only offers incentives for the sick, not for the healthy. But, hey ho ...

Dave - the first of many kind friends/neighbours who go well beyond the call of duty in this saga - drives Doris to the PHO. She waits, fills more forms, sees a nurse (blood pressure, blood test, obligatory smoking questions) and then is examined by a completely different doctor from the one she booked to see. Never mind. They were both complete strangers anyway.

He pokes, prods, palpates, asks her to pee in a bottle and immediately refers her to the Emergency Department at Whangarei Hospital for a surgical assessment.

Dave drives Doris to ED, lets her out at the entrance in the (un)charming, badly planned forest of air-conditioning vents and traffic fumes. He then parks downhill in the dog's breakfast of a pay-by-the-minute carpark.

Note to DHB: sort out this entrance/parking debacle to assist patients.


Doris writhes on a hard chair for three hours. Dave texts. He can't wait much longer. Doris asks how much longer.

"Oh we're busy today, maybe another four hours. We've got really sick people here you know," says a receptionist.

Doris wonders should she lie on the floor waggling her legs like a cast black beetle and scream maybe?

Instead, she texts Dave, hightails it for home, defeated again, and takes to her bed.

Next week, finally Doris gets some relief.