Saturday, 21 January 2017
Saturday, And it’s a Week Since. . . .
. . . . . . Beloved fell and was taken to hospital. The patching up has been done, bruises and scabs are still visible, but he could, by medical standards, be discharged. In fact, a consultant who took me aside during an early visit actually asked :”what is he still here for?” I was gobsmacked. She was a lady doctor, swathed in colourful head scarves and shawls, and I am afraid I need to be somewhat racist now. She looked like the kind of classy Asian or Arab who is used to a large extended family and an army of servants - yes, no doubt, I am being racist and bigoted and prejudiced here - she certainly didn’t look like a woman who struggles to hold it together. She saw the horrified look on my face and back-tracked. Of course it wasn’t personal, she is just being pressured herself to free beds as soon as a patient can be shuffled off. Beloved has become that nasty creature, a bed blocker. Lady consultant was quite blunt: “there is so much wrong with him, we can do nothing for him,” reciting a list of problems.
I made it clear to her that the NHS is obliged to find an alternative placement for him, what with his night time shenanigans; he needs 24 hour care, not something I alone can provide. All the same, I remained rather panicked for the rest of the day and night, I had visions of an ambulance calling at my door and offloading Beloved back ‘into the community’, a euphemism coined by Margaret Thatcher for dumping people and getting them off the back of social services.
During this week I found out that I am not quite as alone and isolated as I thought. Friends have rallied round and provided lifts for me and shelter for Millie during my daily trips to the hospital. On the whole, people have left me alone, none of those concerned but time consuming phone calls “how are you”, “how is he”, when I’ve come home shattered from another afternoon spent with Beloved. Many polite reminders that they are thinking of us and wishing us well, but no requests for detailed information.
It’s been hard going. Yes, there have been funny moments, like that time he said : "if you are going to see the director of this institution you may tell him about the nightly revels". He looked at me sideways, with a crafty expression in his eyes: “I know what goes on here; you should hear the noise, they’re having orgies!” Another time he thought the man in the next bed, who was hidden behind a curtain and therefore invisible to Beloved, was the cabaret; he did make incessant rhythmic noises which sounded a bit like percussion instruments. Beloved frequently thought he was actually in a theatre and the floor show of patients, nurses, doctors and other staff was laid on for him to watch. “Weird lot of performers,” he said. And when he’d had enough he wanted to get up and leave. “Have you any money on you?" he asked. “Why?” “Well, we should leave and pay up, and certainly leave an appropriate tip for the waiters.” “Oh, my dear, it’s all free here,” I said. “Well, fancy that,” he said.
And always: “Let’s just go, shall we? What’s the point of staying here. I really want to go home.”
At first he was at Accident and Emergency, then they took him to the Acute Emergency Unit, now he is on the fairly quiet Nephrology Ward. The whole NHS system is creaking at the seams, staff shortages, huge patient loads and a demoralised workforce are on the way to turning our once great NHS into a dysfunctional rabble, the sort of thing we imagine we find in a third world country.
If only I could take him home.
It’s time to go again, he is still so happy when he sees me that I couldn’t possibly not go.
PS: At the moment I couldn’t care less about Trump and his inauguration, although I joined my lift provider the day before yesterday in some filthy language aimed at him and his supporters.