1. Visit A&E - for me rather than husband, children or uncle.
2. Spend time - that isn't baby-related - in hospital .
3. Have an ECG. My heart races when I get within a 100m radius of hospital; add pain and fear to that and little wonder the triage nurse thinks my heart is dodgy.
4. Have a CT scan. Or as I was calling it a Cat scan. I also had a lot of Lab tests.
You may have guessed from this list, if you didn't already know, that I've been poorly. Ooh, proper poorly I was. Bad in bed under the doctor. It all began ten days ago and since then I've seen four GPs, been prescribed a variety of treatments - antacid, painkillers and antibiotics - been admitted to and spent three nights in hospital, been poked, prodded and had any number of scans and blood tests. Home now feeling much better but still without knowing the cause of the problem. Now it's suspected to be a lady bits' fault and I've been referred to that department for further tests but I don't want to bore you more than necessary so I've just picked a few highlights.
When asked by the NHS Direct nurse if I've been experiencing any confusion I possibly shouldn't have said, 'No more than usual.' (Only days before I'd arrived at the shops without my purse. Which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been the second time in as many weeks.)
Now I'm not being (loosely translated meaning, I am being) snobbish but why is the A&E waiting room filled with women who like their perfume like their men: strong and stinky. At one point I thought I'd come upon a scene from Gavin and Stacey. The patient, the father, was accompanied by his wife, two daughters and sons-in-law. Their clothes (and perfume) suggested they'd come straight from Sunday lunch out and having had it interrupted proceeded to party on with snacks and coffee from Costa and loud conversation. I was expecting Doris to turn up at any moment and start flirting with the young doctors so I was glad when the triage nurse called me in and I was able to change seats. Of course, if I'd been feeling better and not nauseated by the perfume I could have enjoyed it and eavesdropped. Or is it called people-watching these days?
The doctor prescribed me a suppository for pain relief while I was waiting.
'Can you put it in yourself?' the nurse asked.
'Yes, of course I can.'
If I can get it out of the packet.
I had to leave the sanctuary of the lavatory, go and find someone who looked as though they had medical training and ask her to open it for me. (It was a trick: pull-down-from-the-top not tear open packaging. Honestly, sick people don't need these added complications.)
I stared at her then remembered, 'Oh, yes, a coil.'
'A coil?' She looked puzzled. 'What's that for?'
'Um, birth control.'
Okay, looking back I can see why she might have needed to ask why a 64-year-old woman needed birth control ...
During the (first) ultrasound scan the radiographer said something and I asked her to clarify. 'Did you say you can see a gerbil?' A simple, 'Could you say that again' would probably have been a better option.
Owain Glyndwr (not his real name) was moved into the bed next to me. Now we all know hospitals are built for neither privacy nor modesty so I found out quite a lot about him. In fact I found out rather too much about the state of his bowels. But it was the urologist registrar (or some sort of senior - but way too young - doctor) who was most entertaining.
'Can you still write your name in gravel?' (Owain couldn't.)
'I know you've been examined already but I'd like to do it with a more educated finger.'
The first night I was in the surgical assessment ward two beds down from me was the obligatory screaming old person. (I've spent enough time in hospitals to know they are a compulsory part.) In case the bright lights, night-long comings and goings, beeping machines, a trolley for a bed, and pain and fear aren't enough to keep you awake. (Bear with me. This may not sound like a very happy highlight but it is positive.) One of the nurses spent most of her shift reassuring Alice and she didn't lose her patient once. Her tone of voice was unfailingly gentle and polite. Just reassurance over and over again. 'Your husband is at home because he needed to get some sleep but he asked me to look after you tonight and he'll come and see you tomorrow.'
Indeed all the staff (with the minor exception of the 'coil' doctor) were excellent. Kind, available, gentle. In spite of the lack of beds and at one point clean sheets. Doing a job I could never do at all let alone with patience and dedication. More power - and money - to our NHS!
|Room with a view|
P.S. For those interested, the current whereabouts of the gerbil has not yet been established.