Tomorrow I am visiting the hospital. I won't be staying. They will not be examining me. I know they have a big problem with hospital acquired infections and the only way they'd get me in as a patient is unconscious. I'd only be there until I woke up. There's a big sign at every entrance proudly proclaiming it as a smoke-free zone so you don't have to be scared of maybe, possibly, perhaps getting sick twenty years from now. It is not a C. difficile-free zone so you do have to worry about getting seriously ill tomorrow. That's NHS prioritisation for your health.
I'll be delivering some of the Stuff that fixes all kinds of gut infections. I have a bottle of it at home too. Just in case. Then it's back to the lab for a good scouring with antibacterial soap then home for a shower and to burn the clothes I wore there.
I last went to the doctor before I went to China in 1991. I had to have a whole load of injections, including one (well, two) for rabies which was futile because the only dogs I saw in China were roasted. Yes, I have bitten dog. Before that, I last visited as a patient when I had a boil. This boil burst and brown stuff came out, and it left a half-inch hole. Not having experienced brown stuff coming out of a random orifice before, I phoned the doctor with no real hope of seeing anyone. My last visit had been for a stye on my eyelid, and by the time the appointment came around it had gone away on its own.
Several days later, with the hole gradually filling itself in without medical intervention, the appointment came around. I thought, well, I haven't been in a while, best call in and say hello. So I did.
First question - 'Do you smoke?'
After a long pause and a blank expression, I ventured to enquire whether brown-stuff boils were connected to smoking. Was it tobacco juice that came out? If I had known, I wouldn't have thrown it away.
No, no, the doctor said. It's just that we have to ask.
Do I have to answer? Is it of any relevance to the hole I have here? I wasn't confrontational, just curious. I'd been to many doctors in the past and they had always been concerned only with the actual presented ailment, not with my lifestyle choices.
It seemed that he did expect an answer, so I said yes, I like a smoke. With that done, we got down to the actual boil remnant and no further mention of smoking. Because it was of no relevance.
I had to visit subsequently for the inoculations but I have never been again. Why bother, if they are going to nag me about smoking when I turn up with erysipelas or piles? Might as well wait until it goes away on its own.
In order to encourage people like me, who always present with far-too-advanced illnesses because we don't want to be nagged at by smug gits in suits, the health service has decided to add questions on drinking to the list. So now, those who don't smoke but who like a drink will also avoid visiting the doctor until their symptoms become unbearable. That's a great way to cut waiting times. Put off any sick people from visiting.
So if I ever do have to visit a doctor, I will speak first.
I smoke more than you approve of. I drink more than you approve of. I eat more salt and fat than you approve of. I am aware that the alcohol units limits were made up, and that the five-a-day nonsense was made up. I know how fat is metabolised and I know what salt deprivation does. So if you'd like to tick those boxes now, we can spend the three minutes you have alloted me after my four hour wait actually talking about what's wrong with me.
I suggest that anyone visiting a doctor develop a similar short spiel. That way, you might actually get some medical attention rather than a lecture on how you should be living.
If enough people do it for long enough, a doctor somewhere might eventually get the idea.
If we don't, then you can expect a lecture on global warming every time you take your car for an MOT and a nagging on energy efficiency every time you get your heating system serviced.
These sort of things don't stop on their own.