The Catch-22 of Dealing With Medical Bureaucracy

Columnist John Connor faces a transport problem when a miscommunication happens

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main graphic for the column

First off, let me apologize for my penchant for using hip literary references. Not everyone is aware of Joseph Heller’s seminal satirical novel published in 1961, which spawned the book’s title of “Catch-22” as a quick-fire phrase to describe anything that is nearly impossible to get out of.

Our hero, sort of, is Captain John Yossarian, an American bomber pilot in Italy during World War II. He is forced to continue flying despite having far exceeded the 25 missions of a normal tour. His primary concern from the start is self-preservation. While claiming insanity to the medical officer, he immediately confronts a conundrum: to claim insanity in the face of certain death is an obvious display of sanity, as the statistical chance of surviving extra tours is effectively nil.

So I guess it’s not much of a shortcut when I have to explain the setup. It’s something of a Catch-22, in fact.

Recommended Reading
An illustration shows components for stem cell transplant procedure.

How Stem Cell Transplant Can ‘Reset’ Immune System in MS: Study

My medical Catch-22

I was trying to arrange transport to a particular hospital for the first time. Here in the U.K., with our quite wonderful (but admittedly stretched to the breaking point) National Health Service (NHS), you can get transportation to the hospital with a driver trained to deal with the severely disabled.

I fulfill all of the conditions for this and have always received it when needed, although I try to avoid it if I can, given the previously mentioned breaking point.

This time, however, I was stymied by the transport company presumably being told by the hospital that I had been diagnosed with dysphasia. That was a new one for me, but as it turns out, dysphasia is a condition that affects people with multiple sclerosis. With dysphasia, a patient has difficulty understanding speech or communicating. Hence, it can present a communication challenge for the driver.

I can’t organize my own transport, nor can my wife, Jane. With transport, in the case of dysphasia, a carer would be needed to accompany me, someone I just didn’t have access to. Hence my need for hospital transport.

I’m trying to get my general practitioner to email the company, which is an intrinsically tricky proposition, given the breaking point. Also, this type of request just doesn’t fit the norm. I also sent an urgent email to my doctors at the hospital. With all of the follow-up calls, it has taken me many hours.

Dealing with medical bureaucracy is a time eater. If I believed in having a soul, medical bureaucracy would have shrunken mine a long time ago.

As I’ve been attending this particular hospital for a chronic urinary tract infection for two years, it would be a bit much for them to proclaim that I now have dysphasia. Unless I cracked a joke that caused tumbleweed to blow through the ward. Well, it does cause a frightful mess. Serves me right then.

Nor do I currently have dysphasia, which potentially would mean I couldn’t write!

Perhaps it was a not-too-subtle hint hacked in by my editors. They really must be powerful if they infiltrated the British NHS.

If they cut this last bit out, I certainly won’t argue.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Dee Griffin avatar

Dee Griffin

Enjoy reading your column and hope you managed to sort the problem.
Unfortunately life seems to be full of Catch-22s.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here