Wednesday, 6 June 2007

2006 - Acupuncture, and The Priory Hospital

Marie and I know a chap who has had anxiety problems. One somewhat uncommon manifestation of this was his fear of using any toilet except his own. Made going out for anything more than a short space of time somewhat difficult, although if he could find a place in the open air, hidden from common view of course, he could urinate/defecate there. It was just toilets (bathrooms, restrooms, loos, etc. - pick your euphemism) he had problems with.

He told us that he had been cured - well mostly - by an acupuncturist. What's more, Sally, the acupuncturist, lives near us and practices from her home. Marie made an appointment.


Initially, I had to stay in Sally's house while Marie was having acupuncture in another room. I had Joseph with me and we played with toys and read books. After a couple of weeks, Marie felt comfortable enough for Joseph and me to leave and go to the nearby shops or children's playground.

As well as performing acupuncture, Sally was a dietary expert. In some sort of Chinese health improving diets. For the next weeks, we had lots of yellow vegetables, strange fruits and herbal additives. I was hoping that it might make me lose some weight, but alas! that didn't happen (perhaps I should leave the biscuit tin alone!); however, Marie forsook her normal diet of cakes, cheese, pizza, fried foods and fizzy drinks for an altogether healthier diet and soon looked healthier and gained energy.

But the agoraphobia didn't change. Just before we got married (more about that in a different post), Marie stopped going to Sally's...and we went back to our normal food.

The Priory Hospital, Roehampton
In the UK, all the rich and famous people who have psychological and/or drug abuse problems go to The Priory Hospital. Well, perhaps not all, but lots of them - particularly the famous ones. The Priory Hospital at Roehampton in London is the best known hospital in the group (and internationally known too), but there are lots more dotted around the UK.

The Priory Hospital group is also famous
for its high fees! When Marie, a great believer in the myth that cost indicates quality, found out that there was a Priory Hospital in Bristol, she was determined to seek treatment there. We now had a new family doctor (see previous post for 2005 "Family Doctor Has His Say") who wrote off to get Marie an appointment. Within a week (you can see the benefit of private treatment), Marie was notified of an appointment in August.

The Priory Hospital, Bristol
When we arrived at the hospital, we found that the car park was too far away from the entrance for Marie to gain entry, but a sympathetic receptionist told us just to park in front of the main entrance and she would contact me if it was causing a problem. The next problem was that the psychiatrist's office was on the first floor. Luckily, there was a lift. Marie (with me, of course) went up and down in the lift, trying to settle herself to see the psychiatrist, and while doing this, the psychiatrist came out of her room to look for Marie. She took the brusque, forceful, no-nonsense approach with Marie, and it worked enough to get her into the psychiatrist's room. The consultation, which mainly dealt with historical facts, lasted about 45 minutes and at the end, the psychiatrists told Marie that she was going to refer her to a cognitive behavioural therapist at the hospital. The first session would be an assessment, and weekly CBT sessions would follow.

Marie outside The Priory Hospital, Bristol.
I got permission to park right outside the entrance.
A couple of days later, an appointment with a CBT practitioner arrived. We arrived early, as usual, so that Marie had time to feel comfortable with her surroundings. On this day, however, it wasn't working. Marie could only get about 2 metres inside the building. I went to the receptionist (about 7 metres inside the building) to tell her the situation. A couple of minutes later, she called me. Wilma, the CBT practitioner wanted Marie to go to her office upstairs. I told her that this was impossible. Five minutes passed and then Wilma arrived. She tried to persuade Marie to go to her office upstairs - without result, of course. Then she found a downstairs room which she could use, but Marie - now totally spooked by the proceedings - didn't feel comfortable there. Marie had to get outside. For a while we stood just outside the entrance door, obstructing ingoing and outgoing patients and staff, while Wilma kept trying to coax Marie inside. Marie suggested that we all go to a patch of grass outside the building (it was a sunny, warm afternoon), but Wilma said that this would compromise the confidentiality of the information that Marie was going to give her. Marie said that she didn't mind; she had nothing to hide. Wilma said that she couldn't talk there anyway. Marie said, what about the car - that would sort out the confidentiality problem. Wilma didn't want to have the assessment in the car, either. Marie suggested that we come back another day and she would probably be able to get inside the building. Wilma then told her that her office was upstairs, through a large open-plan lobby and towards the rear of the building. Marie said that she definitely wouldn't be able to make it there. That's what she wanted therapy to help her with! Wilma told her that no other room was available. What about the downstairs room we had just been in? Marie asked. That's not always available. What if we made appointments for days and times when the room was available? Marie asked. Wilma was having none of it. But that's why I'm here, Marie cried, it's because I have agoraphobia and can't get to certain places. That's what I need help with. Wilma was unmoved. If you can't get to my consulting room, I can't give you treatment, she told Marie. What you need, she continued, is a therapist who will come to your house. I don't do that, she said, and as well, you can save money because you won't have to pay expensive Priory fees. But I don't need a home-visiting therapist, replied Marie, I can get into most downstairs rooms as long as they're not far from the front door, and the cost isn't my primary concern. Wilma insisted that she knew better.

Eventually I persuaded Marie to leave. Her belief in The Priory Hospital, with its expensive but best-available treatment for the famous (and thus her) was now a shattered illusion. It was a tearful, depressed Marie that I took home that afternoon.

Soon afterwards the psychiatrist sent us a bill for her 45 minute consultation - £145. Good work if you can get it...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have experience of the treatment scheme there. YOU HAD A LUCKY ESCAPE! Being accepted for treatment would have meant a lot of money and a lousy outcome.

Just out of interest, were the Dr's initials MS?