Real life in a hospital ward
Real life in a hospital ward
Cheryl is checking her patient's orientation. " Do you know what day it is today, Pete?" After a moment, he says," Tuesday." She tells him,"No, Pete, it's Wednesday," I catch her eye and say," Cheryl, it is Tuesday." She looks horrified. " So it's not payday tomorrow then? I'm screwed."
We have two patients called Lily, who are three beds apart, both a little confused following operations. " How are you feeling, Lily?" the doc asks Lily1. Lily 2 looks around, unsure who's asking, but says she's not too bad, all things considered. Lily1 nods in agreement to this statement. " Has your husband been in yet, Lily?" Lily1 says yes, as Lily 2 announces firmly that she's never been married. " Can you squeeze my hand, Lily?" results in one squeezed hand, and one patient looking under her sheet for a spare hand to squeeze.
The, erm, large patient is demanding food yet again. Our domestic, Shaz, offers her breaktime sausage sandwich. " He'll want something else in ten minutes," says his nurse. Shaz replies," Then I can give him ten minutes comfort." I happen to be in the kitchen as she digs her sandwich from the fridge. " That's really good of you," I say. She sighs. " He reminds me of my kid brother," she tells me. " He died from the same kind of brain tumour when he was nineteen. Near the end, all he wanted to do was eat." I pat her shoulder, unsure what to say." I'm sorry." It's lame, but there it is. " Don't be," she says." He was a bastard before the tumour and an absolute bastard with it." She looks at the sandwich and her eyes mist. " But he did like his food."
This is a busy neurosurgical High Dependency Unit. Patients have undergone brain or spinal surgery, had a stroke, been assaulted or hit by a bus. People whose lives have changed in the blink of an eye. Unlike inTV soaps, most patients and relatives are quietly respectful and dignified. They're often nervous and unsure of themselves. The lovely nurses help put them at ease. My job is ward clerk, keeping track of the paperwork ,dealing with phone calls and relatives. Time flies.
Nurse Joe pops over to the doctor for some advice. " My patient's got weird bruises on her arm, about there." He points to his own upper arm. "I've forgotten what that bit's called." "Granny's bat wings?" offers the doctor.
Physiotherapists walk young Mick down the ward. He's been in bed since he arrived, and everyone's surprised how tall he is. Mick's wearing an eye patch to help combat double vision and along with his tattooes, he's every inch a pirate. Wedding pictures beside his bed remind everyone of the ultimate goal - transforming the wobbly pirate back to the strapping man with a glowing bride on his arm.
I've been spreading love round the unit, giving patients messages from nearest and dearest who ring in. Here I go again, over to bed 8. " Hello there," I say," Your good lady wife's on the phone. She says she loves you. Any messages for her?" The man blinks at me, and says," Tell her she's a daft cow."
A stroppy trainee doctor grabs an opthalmoscope and lunges at me. " Sit still," she barks, placing a hand on my forehead." Look straight ahead." She leans close, frizzy hair scratches my cheek. I smell baked beans as the torch drills into my eye. " Look up," she commands. " Excellent! That's the first time I've done that correctly. I'll go check my patient." I see stars. Eyeball rape?
As the original tall, dark and handsome walks past the desk, I keep my gaze on my computer screen. I've already clocked the tears rolling down his face. Nurse Sasha hurries after him with a box of tissues. She's been up all night with her poorly toddler. Sasha's had to leave the mite with Gran, though all the toddler wants is Mummy. Mummy's here, helping dry someone else's tears.
I put in a call to the estates department. " Can someone come and fix the bedpan masher, please, it's blocked." They ask, " Do you know what's caused the blockage?" Take a wild guess.
"What's happened to my head?" asks the groggy patient. Her nurse explains to Lucy that she's had an operation to remove a small portion of her brain. " But where's the bit they took out?" Lucy persists." I mean,there must be a hole in my brain. It must be full of air. I need the piece put back in." The nurse says it had been making her ill. " But it's my brain," Lucy says. " You can't just throw it away."
" Hello there, sorry to bother you, I know you're really busy, so I hate to be a pest. You must get hundreds of phone calls, but I'm very worried about my terribly good friend, and I really want to know how she is, if you don't mind? Only I can't get in to see her as I've twisted my ankle and I've got a bit of a cold so I wouldn't want to pass it on and -" "What's your friend's name?" I ask. The caller says," I've known her so long, we're more like family really..." She finally gives me a name, I check with the nurse, and say," She's comfortable at the moment, no change. You need to speak to her family if you want more details." The lady replies,"Oh, but I've spoken to her husband at eight o'clock this morning and he said there's no change, so I thought I'd ring you instead." It's now 9 a.m. Aargh! " Shall I call back at lunchtime?" No, please, no!
Young Simon's recovering from removal of a blood clot on his brain. As a patch of hair's been shaved off, he decides the rest may as well go, and the nurse hands him a shaver. His newly bared scalp reveals a tattoo which reads " F*ck Off!" Simon grins. "Kind of forgot that was there. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
This is real life in a hospital ward. Staff are here 24/7 to watch out for their patients.They do so with good grace, kindness and skill, often with sore feet and rumbling bellies. Thank you notes and chocolates from patients brighten the day. The greatest reward is to see people return to health.