A whole week lost to norovirus. Appointments cancelled, jobs left undone, blogs unread and posts unwritten. I didn’t even feel good enough to enjoy the enforced idleness. The dog pined, not getting his usual walks, the cleaning help refused to set foot in the house, dirty laundry piled up.
Beloved brought the virus home first; he was done with it in three days, after having generously donated it to me.
With me it liked to linger longer; I am one of those unfortunate people whose heart sometimes plays silly-buggers. 98% of the time it ticks and tocks along nicely but under the strain of a viral infection and the havoc this wreaks, one minute it can be playing jungle drums, the next withdraw from the scene like a Victorian lady having the vapours. Letting it go on for any length of time is usually not a good idea.
So the trusty GP arrived, my sweet and gentle friend Dr. J.; next, a couple of burly chaps in blue were bundling me into their evil-smelling ambulance, in spite of saying ‘yes, boss’ when I swore at them to leave me where I was.
Once on the ward - where my heart soon assumed normal service - pretty little nurslings, otherwise known as auxiliaries, in pale pastel uniforms, with very little nursing training, were flitting about occasionally, sending vague smiles in my direction, but probably too scared to enter the personal space of a leper. Full-grown nurses were very few and far between, doctors nowhere to be seen.
As I was no longer an emergency, that didn’t matter and I settled back to observe.
Nurses generally seem to be of the opinion that anybody in the vicinity of 60 and over must be deaf, half-blind and definitely gaga, in need of incontinence pads, hearing aids and receptacles for false teeth. Very often they are right. Unless you, the patient, lay down the ground rules and set boundaries the minute you arrive, you become part of the great shadowy body of invisible, pitiable, demoralized, patronized, and mostly elderly occupants of NHS hospital wards. Nobody is actually deliberately unkind or abusive but you are certainly meant to keep quiet, take your meds and don’t bother anyone. God help you if you can’t move under your own steam! The picture is not a pretty one. Ringing your bell is a waste of time.
For 20 years I have held a season ticket to the show, I know what I am talking about.
In spite of all of the above and perhaps because of having learned the hard way to
negotiate terms and conditions, I am usually treated courteously.
When the Polish doctor finally arrived at three in the morning, eight hours after I had arrived, I recognized him for an old friend I had met before and we were soon chatting away, comparing notes about health services in our respective countries. Both of us being NHS insiders, as doctor and patient, we are allowed to do that; neither of us would allow an outsider to do so. Polish doctor will be leaving the UK eventually to return to Poland, where he will be a “better doctor” than his Polish colleagues because UK training is more rigorous than training in his own country; he turned down Germany because there the final exams “are harder”.
Strange world. To me that reasoning is somehow not quite logical, medicine being medicine? Maybe not.
Polish doctor checked me over, hooked me up to a saline drip, filled in a few reams of paper and we parted the best of friends, me to stay in my bed, finally allowed a few hours sleep and he to continue on his rounds.
In the morning I was discharged.