18.5 C
Friday, June 14, 2024
Laterally SpeakingIn Good Health by Humphrey Walwyn

In Good Health by Humphrey Walwyn

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in hospital. Actually, ‘opportunity’ is the wrong word as I had little choice in the matter. I wasn’t feeling very well and so was brought in for a few days while various people in white coats poked and prodded me about to check that everything was working—a fascinating (though somewhat uncomfortable) experience. This was the reason (so now you know) why I couldn’t write last month’s article.

We have all heard criticism of the NHS and of overcrowded wards and over-worked staff, but never again from me! I think statues should be erected on every street corner in praise of nurses. I could never do that job. Mr Jenkins in the bed right next to me may be a right pain in the proverbials, but the nurses always greeted him with a warm smile. How do they do it? I’d never have the patience (or should that be ‘patients’?) to put up with such long hours and yet always be so nice.

Mind you, spending a few days in hospital isn’t exactly the same as a hotel holiday, but then it’s not supposed to be. You’re there to be cured—not cosseted or coddled. So here are my lateral observations after a few days on a hospital ward. No criticism (far from it) but some useful pointers on how best to cope if you’re unfortunate enough to suddenly find yourself in a hospital bed.

Consultant’s Rounds: Every morning, your specialist consultant makes his/her tour of your ward. This is a very important moment for you. It’s like the arrival of God, so pay attention. The consultant is the only person who really knows what’s wrong with you and how best to cure you. That’s because they are very learned and wise and need to be bowed down to. Except that—being in a hospital bed—it’s pretty difficult to bow down to anyone, so just try to look sad and nod very respectfully to them. The unfortunate thing about consultants is that nobody knows exactly when they will get to you. Ask a nurse or the ward sister and the answer will always be the same… “Oh, I’m not sure. They’re very busy you know. Sometime before lunch. Hopefully.” They’re not hiding the truth from you—they genuinely have no idea. Nobody dares to even look at a consultant let alone speak to him/her.

Ward Sister: Also known as the ‘Charge Nurse’, she is ‘the boss’ on your ward. Joke with the nurses and the helpers but don’t mess with this individual. She has life and death control over you. Literally. You’re just the patient.

Pre-ordering of Food: To keep costs down, you will be asked to choose your meal menu in advance. Like well in advance—up to a day and a half ahead. No matter if World War Three erupts or you’re being sent home before tomorrow’s supper, you have to order your choice of meal NOW. OK, so you’ll miss the chicken risotto, but it’s the system so don’t try to argue. I’m sure the person who will next occupy your bed will love your choice of cottage pie with fruit salad and ice cream, so don’t worry.

Repetition of Details: I suppose it’s Health and Safety or something, but it’s obviously important that the ward staff know exactly who you are. From the moment you arrive till the moment you leave, you will need to repeat your name, first line of your address and your date of birth—not just once or twice but twenty times or more every time there’s a new shift or a new medical person on the ward. Relax and try to smile and repeat the information slowly and clearly. Look at it this way… it’s unquestionably a good thing they’re reminded of your correct identity or you might get confused with the person in the bed opposite and end up having the wrong limb removed or suffer a ghastly error (Heaven forbid). Take a deep breath—be patient. Your life may depend upon it…

Bedside Table: These are never big enough. After you’ve got Aunt Susan’s grapes, four books on ‘self improvement’ and your sister’s fourteen Health magazines (a well meaning but futile attempt for you to improve your life style), there’s no room left for the bunch of flowers from the office plus your wash bag, spare underpants and secret box of chocolates (thanks David!). When friends and family visit, tell them to only bring stuff that can be consumed immediately on the premises like fruit, sweeties or even miniature bottles of brandy (as long as the Ward Sister isn’t looking). Otherwise, everything will topple onto the floor, the vase of flowers will break and water spill under the curtain to Mr Johnson in the next bed which may cause his mother to slip on the ward lino and sue you for damages. Sorry to be negative, but I’m just trying to be helpful…

Mobile Phone or Laptop: You may be able to while away the hours playing Angry Birds or Crossy Road but only if all electrical items such as mobiles and chargers are firstly checked out by the Hospital Health & Safety Electricians. This rule is observed with almost religious zeal and is yet another reason to smile sweetly at the ward sister and ask permission very humbly before you begin to entertain yourself. Read a book. Much safer or better for you really…

Length of Stay: Don’t worry—you won’t be in there long. Back in the last century they used to keep you in hospital for weeks while they checked you over, but nowadays you’ll be let go as soon as you can walk and look after yourself. Simply put, they need your bed immediately for someone else who is even ‘illerer’ than you.

Exclusive content

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article

More article

- Advertisement -spot_img