‘She’s been at it for thirty years has our Thelma. Thirty years I said. Thirty years!’
‘At it? At it? At what?’ asked Louise?
‘You know. Medical records. Pulling notes. Filing notes. Lifting notes….’
‘Finding notes’ said a grumpy voice from across the table. ’Under consultants’ desks, in secretaries’ ‘secret’ hiding places. Stacked up behind cupboards. In coders’ cupboards absolutely anywhere. Flipping anywhere!’
‘Pushing notes in a trolley from the dusty basement to the records prep room to the clinics. Thirty years I say thirty years.’ continued Lorraine picking up her glass of chilled chardonnay.
‘Ay – haven’t we all’ said Louise slurping her vodka tonic and swirling the ice cubes round and around.
‘Well – no’ corrected Lorraine, ‘I’ve only been at it twenty years. I’m a relative newbie!’
They all giggled at that. The medical records staff were sat round a big table in the pub after work on a Thursday. It was Thelma’s last day. This after-work gathering was a rare occurrence.
‘Grab us a sausage roll wilt Suze’ shouts Lorraine to the queue at the buffet in a grating Yorkshire accent.
‘She started when she was 16 – straight from school. Had a 10 year brek for babbies but all in all 30 years she’s done. And now she’s free. Free I say! Free!’ Lorraine sounded like she’d just watched her best mate tunnell out of either Tom Dick or Harry in the Great Escape. ‘And what’s she got to show for it eh? A mouldy buffet with curling sandwiches and flakey sausage rolls. Oh and a clock. A clock! I ask you who wants to watch the time when you retire.’
‘It’s been a long thirty years’ says Thelma joining the group and pulling up a chair with one hand while balancing a plate of sandwiches with her other. ‘I remember when we were told we were going paperless.’
‘Oh by Jeremy Hunt? Paperless by 2018 he said’ reported Louise.
‘No not the Hunt – way before that. In the 80’s then the 90’s. Another hint in the noughties and again in the whatever we call ‘now’’ ‘The teenies!’ shouted someone coming over with a big bendy sausage roll in her hands.
‘Thanks Suse. Teenies? Is that where we are now? I like it. We are the oval teenies’ giggled Lorraine.’That teks me back’
‘Who are you calling Oval!’ said a large woman joining them with four pork pies.
‘……and you weren’t even in the war!’ corrected Louise.
‘Feels like I have been. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. They’ve been threatening us with going paperless for yonks. Ever since Adam were a lad’ said Thelma
‘Our Adam? He still IS a lad !’
‘No – I mean Adam and Eve’s Adam. I mean, like, yonks ago! But still we’re pulling notes’
‘And filing them’ joined in Suzie
‘if you can find them’ repeated the same grumpy voice from across the table.
‘And prepping them’ said Adam. The token male of the group.
‘….and wheeling them’ mumbled Lorraine through a sandwich.
‘…and filing them again.’
‘I need a drink!’ said Suzie. ‘Want one Thelma? Another special ‘last-day’ glass of wine?’
‘What another one? I’ve still got two waiting for me. But go on then. Why not. It IS my last day isn’t it. But I’m gonna miss you all’ said Thelma with a hint of dampness at the corner of her left eye. She was either sad or had the beginnings of conjunctivitis. ‘I hated the job but I will miss you lot. I’ve seen more of you than I’ve seen of my Jack over these last 30 years.’
May not be conjunctivitis, (conjunctivitis (unspecified) H10.9). It could be Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) (Not sure of that code. Not used it for a while) thought a psychic clinical coder who had just joined the group with her glass of claret and a carrot.
‘Oh hello Michelle. How’s coding? Cracked it yet?’
Michelle was expecting another Bletchley Park jibe but didn’t get one. She quietly nibbled her carrot stick instead.
‘Good buffet Thelma ! You’ve been here a long time haven’t you?’ said Michelle as she raised her claret.
‘Aye lass she has and I bet she’s got lots of stories to tell,’ said Lorraine ‘….but she wont be here to tell ‘em no more. You’ll be sun-bathing in Spain or Italy or Cornwall won’t you Thelma?’
‘Huddersfield more like! And there’s no sun there !’ said Thelma. ‘I’m going nowhere. I will miss you – my mates. I really will’ ‘Well – listen, here’s an idea. Why don’t we all meet here once a month – on a Thursday - straight after work, and put the world to rights?’ Do you mean like a Thelma’s Thirsty Thursday night. Wouldn’t that be good?
‘And what will we talk about?’
‘We’ll think of something. You lot are always going about something or other.’ said Thelma, warming to the idea. ‘We won’t have any problem finding topics to discuss. In fact, why don’t we ask the readers of the blog to suggest topics?