Some of you may have noticed I was conspicuously absent (or if not entirely absent, very quiet) in November. You may have felt an overwhelming sense of relief at that. But I like to humour myself that you might have wondered where I was.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to assume you were frantic with worry.
November 2017 was not a good month. I had the pleasure of two hospital admissions, both via A&E, and both in the kind of agony I’d only ever imagined. Fingers crossed, I’m now on the mend (I hope).
I know there are countless articles out there singing the praises of NHS and other medical staff. And I know this time of year is overflowing with stories of local heroes, community spirit and goodwill. But I wanted to say thank you in my own way to the absolute stars who looked after me, in more detail than I could fit in a card and louder, too.
So, here goes.
I can’t remember all your names. I was in such a state at times that I probably never really caught them – but I’ll give it a go with the ones I do remember. So thank you to Precious, to Shauna, to Farhana, to Enrique, to Natasha, to Paolo, to Elaine.
To the healthcare assistant who helped me to wash my hair despite being on a drip, so that I felt human again.
To the junior doctor who sat with me after I was told they couldn’t find a cause for the agony I was in, just holding my hand because there really was nothing else she could do.
To the housekeeping assistant who realised I’d been in a room all by myself all weekend (some people’s idea of bliss, but not mine) and chatted to me to stop me climbing the walls.
To the catering assistant who always remembered how I took my tea, and to his colleague who, when I was at my very lowest point, realised the difference an extra chocolate muffin would make to me.
To the nurses in A&E who sat with me while my world started spinning as I was given IV morphine.
To the nurse who tried (and ultimately failed) to replace my cannula before my CT scan, but who I know was still learning that particular art. She tried. And she apologised wholeheartedly for not managing it, at the same time as I apologised to her for having teeny tiny veins and being an anxious bundle.
I’m sorry I didn’t catch all your names.
The consultants come in once a day. That’s their job, and they were taking care of me and doing the very best they could in the limited time they have, but still, at times, I didn’t feel like they were hearing what I was saying. It was the army of other hospital staff who listened, understood and got to know me, and who ultimately made sure that I was sent home with pain relief that was strong enough to see me through.
During my stay, I saw shortages of equipment, shortages of staff, and at times shortages of beds. There were inefficiencies too, but totally understandable ones in a workplace where people don’t have time to step back, to get perspective, to improve things.
But I ALSO saw that these shortages were made up for by the unrelenting dedication and care shown by the PEOPLE – from consultants to housekeeping and even the volunteers who brought around newspapers. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but they do a wonderful job.
Our NHS is struggling. We all know that. I’m not going to pretend to have an answer. I’m not going to pretend that there’s an easy fix, or a fix at all. I just want to say thank you, to all those megastars who travel from far and wide to get to the hospitals day in, day out, and make a difference to us when we need them to.
You’re the best.