Firstly I have relapsing remitting MS which leaves me with relatively minor problems. Over the years I have learnt to live with MS and I’m lucky that to the casual observer my symptoms aren’t noticeable [never sure if lucky is the right word but lets just say it’s not as bad as it might be].
I had my first MS symptoms when I was 10 and have been in and out of hospitals and GP’s surgeries fairly regularly ever since - that’s over 30 years. Like many people on here I’ve had good, bad and indifferent service. I used to think it was the postcode lottery but now I think it’s more down to people and how a large organisations like the NHS works.
These past 18 months I have had cause to call on NHS services more than I would like and was initially thankful that such a service exists in the UK, however I have chosen to opt out.
I’m tired to having to explain how MS impacts on me, tired of the endless battery of tests, tired of the scans, tired of waiting for results, tired of having to make appointments a year in advance to speak to my consultant, tired of being offered new drugs “to try”, tired of the side effects, and tired of setting off in hope only to return in despair. Mostly though I am tired of sitting in those dreary waiting rooms for hours on end, feeling the life being sucked out of me, just for the opportunity to sit for 5 minutes in front of the latest Wizard of Oz.
So despite “needing to make an appointment to get the results of my last tests”, having my rearranged Consultant’s appointment from this month set for October 2016, and having a knee that gives way with alarming frequency, I have decided to say goodbye to the NHS and healthcare providers in general (I couldn’t afford private healthcare anyway).
I’ve come to realise that I waste too much time worrying about tests, results, appointments etc. Besides the amount I’ve paid to NHS car parks probably pays for a small village hospital or my consultant’s golf club membership . So I’m saying goodbye to the worry and the drab and dreary NHS, to the blank faces of medical professionals, to the shoulder shrugs, to the chemical experiments, to the endless repetitiveness of my own voice telling the same dull boring story about my symptoms.
I realise that nothing makes me feel me more negative about my MS and me than talking to medical professionals, so I’m cutting that part out of my life. From now on I’m just going to concentrate on the positives. Life, especially when you have MS, is way to short to waste time, energy and effort on the negatives.
Now I know I am lucky that I am not hugely reliant on NHS support and therefore in a position to make this choice, but think about it this way. Me opting out means, hopefully, better service and more resources to those who need them, or at least you won’t have to put up with my miserable face when you’re next in your GP’s or hospital’s waiting room.
So think of it as my one man protest against the dreary and negative medical system (like many one men protests I have no doubt will go unheard and ignored). Yes it is utter nonsense. Yes it is a preposterous. Yes there will be downs as well as ups. Yes it won’t make a blind bit of difference to you or to the medical profession.
But for me it’s about taking back control, it’s about owning my MS and being positive about life. I just no longer feel I can have any of that inside the current system - so this is me getting out, opting out.