waiting

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 8am 18th August: on the Trauma ward

Healing with the NHS feels like one long ‘wait’ punctuated by the occassional specialist randomnly dropping gems of information.

I woke on the Trauma ward as a young chap with glasses and a neat short-back and sides arrived.  Ed, Mr. Powell-Smith, with his side-kick scribbling in a note-pad by bed 26. My bed. Ed explained that he was the Royal Berkshire’s expert hand and wrist surgeon,  I was scheduled for a 4pm operation but that might be delayed if someone with more urgent surgical needs arrived during the day.

The day passed way too quickly for a girl who’s terrified of surgery. It passed interestingly enough, too quickly.

The kindly lady in bed 24 was recovering from an appendix removal last night.  She wanted to use the commode (wheel chair with a toilet in it) rather that the bedpan (Cardboard bucket shoved under your bum in the bed). It’s a dignity and comfort preference.  More comfortable and dignified to sit up. For the staff its more awkward to find the commode; wheel it to the patients bed; help the patient out of bed onto the commode; wait; help the patient back into bed afterwards then empty the commode. The stout ward nurse argued with the lady in Bed 24. The nurse didn’t want to let the lady use the commode. The lady started crying, the nurse bought the commode.  Afterwards I listened to the lady in bed 24 tell me about her illness and her family. She wasn’t tearful when she was listened to. She was witty and bright.

The lady in bed 25 was a retired costume designer for Hammer films. She told me how Marlon Brandon used to phone her at home and what a naughty boy he was.  Nicolas Cage was an arrogant idiot with an unnecessarily oversized entourage! We all became lost in her wonderful stories about film stars dead and young.

The stout nurse came round. She didn’t believe that I’d seen the surgeon because there was no mention of it in my hospital notes. Can you see a theme emerging here? She started arguing with me. Again, it felt like I was being blamed, accused of lying, when hospital notes are incomplete. I stood my ground without tearing-up:

I don’t know why it isn’t in your hospital notes, but he did come round and he did talk to me. I can describe him, he’s short and young with a neat haircut and glasses. I’m on the operating schedule for 4pm.  I made a note of it in my book, would you like to check my note book?

The stout nurse looked grumpy, she didn’t want to see me notebook, she harumphed off. To the lady in bed number 27.  When the stout nurse left the lady in bed number 27 – the lady was crying. I bought the lady in bed 27 some hankies and fresh water for her jug. Not terribly helpful but it showed we all noticed and cared.

I shivered as I wondered whether the stout nurse’s talent, for making patients cry, gave her pleasure


7 bits of lovely banter on “waiting”

  1. Kay G. writes:

    I had a stout nurse like that many years ago when I was in delivery. She stood, with arms folded, as I was shaking uncontrollably. When I heard my voice in amazement say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I am shaking so”…the Doctor SHOUTED at the stout nurse, “GET OVER HERE AND HELP ME”. But to me, he said in the most gentle voice, “Don’t worry, you are doing just what you are supposed to be doing.”
    Nurse Rachett from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, they do exist.

    Tell us more about the lady who worked for Hammer Films, I would have milked her for every story she had!

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    wendy writes

    Kay, What a lovely show of support from the doctor! Unfortunately one of the side effects of the shock and pain was messing up my memory and I quickly forget stuff that I didn’t write down. I dudn’t write down that ladies stories – she filled our little cubicle with sunshine, laughter and gasps. I wish I could remember the details. We begged her to write her life story… but she wouldn’t put these stories in writting because of her respect for the people involved – even dead people….

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  2. Indigo Roth writes:

    Hey Wendy! Some people, who love their job but not the effort required to be professional, should never be allowed near the public, Especially the sick ones. I’m hoping for a happy ending. Indigo

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    wendy writes

    Hi Indigo, be reassured that there will be a happy ending – today I’m typing this with 2 hands :-) w x

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  3. Zed writes:

    I’ve never forgotten a nurse – not overworked, she was tucking another patient into bed – who refused to come to bring a bedpan to my friend who was old, dying, his left arm paralysed by a stroke. He called out that he couldn’t wait, she hunched her shoulders and turned away. Of course, he wet himself and she had to come and change his pyjamas and bedclothes. It would have been easier to give him the bottle. More importantly, it was a deliberate cruelty to a lovely old man who was humiliated by the incident.

    It’s nothing to do with the recession, it was some years ago when the economy was booming, and she was in her 50s, well old enough to know much better.

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    wendy writes

    Welcome Zed! Nice to meet you and find your blog :-)
    Such a sad story about the elderly gent being humiliated. Scarey to think that people working in the caring services can be so mean in their actions. W

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  4. Scarlet writes:

    I don’t like stout nurse either. Glad you gave her what for… patronising cow that she is.
    Sx

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