Saturday, 27 February 2010

Medical Interlude

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.


  1. Your NHS sounds a lot like our system - when it works, it's great.
    I'm glad to read that you're on the mend. You might want to have a disaster restoration firms come in to fumigate in case there is a wee germ lurking anywhere.

  2. Oh Friko - I'm so sorry to hear you went through all that. Even if you are used to it and annoyed by it, there must be some part of you that finds it sobering and scary. Not fun on any level. Do take care as you get your strength back. We need you here!!!

    I'll be thinking of you and send you a virtual (((hug))).

  3. Good for you! We 'elderly' mustn't let them patronize us. I have a short way with those who call me 'young lady' -- and me white-haired and 67.

    Hope you're doing better, Friko!

  4. Friko, sorry to hear you were under viral attack. It is hard to imagine that they waited 8 hours to hydrate you intravenously. That seems to be the first thing they should have done.

  5. Well dear Friko, only you can make a catastrophic situation into a comic sketch. I know it is a terrible situation to be in and when working in ER often wondered what the patients thought about us. Usually running around with 16 million things to do and only 2 arms and 2 legs to do it with. We used to call it 'packing your pockets' duty. Put every possible thing you could need in your pockets so as not to have to go back for supplies. In this country the paper work is atrocious.

  6. Ouch Friko, so sorry you're not well. I had to go to the RSH recently to have some tests done and found the nurses to be absolute angels. Honest, they were lovely, all of them. Perhaps you saw different ones to me.

  7. Friko I am glad you are on the road to recovery and not picked up something even more horrid as a parting gift from the NHS!

  8. I am so sorry that you have been ill. I am amazed at your courage by continuing to post on your blog. I think that's the last thing I would be doing.

    Take care and get well.

  9. Friko

    Thanks for the positive update. Glad you are back home where you belong.

  10. You have been in the wars! Lots of healing vibes for a quick return to feeling fighting fit gain. x

  11. Glad you're back home. Having worked in both hospitals and nursing homes, I always told the patients the squeaky wheel gets greased encouraging them not to be complacent.

  12. Sorry to hear about the dreaded lurgi. You don't have to be that old to be treated like a mentally deficient/deaf person either. You're right though: you do have to be firm with them from the outset.

  13. friko - i've not been out and about much myself of late. weary and worn-down but when i read of your troubles - well i wish i could've dropped a get well soon note off so here i am saying how pleased i am that you survived the virus, the health service, and the image of the toilet on wheels . . . welllllll that tells a story!!! steven

  14. The world over, hospital call buttons are merely for show, meant to make you feel as if you're doing something to get help but in truth accomplishing little to nothing.
    I'm glad *they* took you off to the hospital despite your protestations, and I'm glad you're home!
    And I hope you're feeling a little more settled throughout.

  15. I know exactly what you mean about it being 'not the done thing' to move under your own steam in hospital. My, do they panic! My good wishes for complete recovery soon.

  16. Oh gosh, I hope you're feeling better. The weird thing is, that little blue graphic you posted of the virus is not unattractive. Mother Nature is strange, cruel, ugly and beautiful all at once. Listen to some beautiful music, read a good book!

  17. 在你一無所有的時候 是誰在陪伴你 他便是你最重要的人..................................................

  18. Friko, I'm very glad you're back and very sorry that you've had such a bloody awful week. When you first posted about being sick, you gave no clue it was this serious. Pffft, you might say, but to be hospitalized says SERIOUS to me.

    I just shake my head in wonder that your sense of humour never seems to desert you. All the while, reading this and with lots of 'oh-nos' going through my head, I am very conscious of how it's written and what makes it funny...and I have to hand it to you!

    Just to be cheeky, I wonder what the nurses thought of you??? :) You must be a memorable patient...
    I'm glad you're in one piece and back with us. Blogland is not the same without you.

  19. An awful and unnerving tale, Friko, and like everyone else, I'm glad that you made it through safely and are back home. But have I missed something? Why were you taken to hospital at all if you were just parked in a bed and were not seen by a doctor for so long? Was that to humour your GP?

    But I admire your philosophical attitude; treat yourself to a nice period of convalescence on the sofa now.

  20. So pleased to hear you're out of hospital and on the mend.

  21. Take it easy Friko - get well soon.

  22. I am pleased that you are back home and feeling better. I did notice though that a doctor came to your house first. I have never seen a doctor in my house for all the years I have been in this country, unless he/she was a dinner guest. Before they would place us in a hospital bed, they would have us sit at a desk giving insurance information – no insurance? No care usually. But when I visited my mom in France and had a stomach bug the doctor was at her door ½ hour after we called. The US does not want “European type” care….I see your doctor is Polish – as a coincidence I just published a (long!) post on another Pole – Chopin. I even mentioned your name in my post, thank you.

  23. Oh goodness, you make me laugh.

    Excellent post. I have a blog buddy who is an emergency room nurse. She makes me cry...
    Take care. Wishing you good health and laughter!

  24. I understand your feelings..rather infuriating but I find it great your sense of humor has remained in-tact amd that your home blogging- I enjoy your writing! Hope you get your strength back soon. My best, Regina-


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