Friday, 13 July 2018

Blue badge blues poem

Hospital confidential 

A confident stride
the prelude to 
tugged curtains
a breathless introduction

Conversations ensue
maybe the most painful
of our lives
behind paper screens

We don’t hear all the words
but certainly get the tone
the grimness in the phrases
the timescales dodged

Biopsies, scans
lives changed
behind those paper defined boundaries
between your life and theirs

iPads and magazines are stared at
in desperate attempts
to divert attention
from this stranger 

This stranger who’s life has just collided
with ours as I sit uninvited 
a mere bystander
in their unfolding disaster

Curtains pulled back
Words digested
Heads come up
Sad smiles make contact

Another hospital confidential
story unfolds 
and for that moment we are one
in these four beds

All our stories are shared
our tears witnessed
our pain cursed
our lonely fears observed

As I gather up for home
these women’s stories
will be part of my own story here
and be part of my tears shed

tears that slowly relieve the trauma 

and leave it behind

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Blue badge blues 5

 The World Cup has been on while I’ve been in hospital. Amazingly I may get through it without seeing a game! Although if I’m out for the final then I will succumb. But it’s left me with a head full of football analogies. And if I can be allowed one, this week has been a game of two half’s! 
I was emerging from the trauma of ICU etc and had got a bed on a ward to aim towards discharge. Everyone was saying how well I was doing especially after such extensive surgery. So give me a goal and I will try to exceed it! I was going to recover in record time, until I slid preparing for my shower, my foot went under me and I fractured my ankle. I felt the click but still hoped it was only a sprain. But X-rays confirmed a spiral fracture; my surgeon said I don’t do anything by halves. I know this to be true.
So the rest of this week has been getting acquainted with a moonboot, regaining my confidence and trying to get mobile again. It’s been messy and I’ve shed lots of tears if I’m honest. It’s  made me doubt ever getting home or being on top of pain. I got the chance to see Cara, our dog, and I wept buckets. She on the other hand was only interested in whether she could share in the gluten free sausages my sister had especially prepared for me! But the tears have been a release too and they’ve helped me take of the « I’m fine » mask for a wee while at least. 
Today’s outing was to the Royal Infirmary Fracture Clinic. It was a long drive in a warm taxi but on the bright side we went right through this beautiful city and it made me yearn to be out and about and taking part in life again. That said I came back to the Ward, went straight to bed and slept. 
I remain impressed by the level of care offered to such a wide cross section of need by the staff. What’s even more impressive in some ways is the compassion that is shared so widely and wisely. Compassion is not only the bedrock of care but it’s also the fundamental component of trust and support in the relationship you have with the carers of all types. 

There’s a warmth and personal touch in this ward which gives me enormous hope for the future of our services. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Blue badge blues four

Happy birthday #NHS70 today. I have so many reasons to be grateful to you. The family i was born into, would not have had resources to pay for complex treatment. But more than that, going through treatment for breast cancer three times and now in hospital post thoracic spinal surgery; I know all about gratitude to those who conceived of the policy of the #NHS, free at point of need and those who make it a reality daily. 
I’m three weeks post op now and the rhythm of care in this neurosurgery unit and the ITU before it is mapped out clearly. I see every day the skills and compassion of the medical, nursing and physio and OT team. First class surgical care is the expected norm and the importance of the complementary nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy skills emerge as the focus shifts towards independent care.
The unit here is old fashioned but in the longer term there is a move planned to the ultra modern new hospital. In the middle of the night recently i was making up new verses for the song « what the world needs now » to «  what the NHS needs now is WD40 ( a squeaky trolley to check BP etc) . The second verse was footstools ( I ended up using a pharmacy box). Enough pillows could be another verse...you get my drift? Comfort and the apparently little things can be sacrificed when budgets are under pressure but they are important to staff and to patients in the .in my opinion, the best thing we could do this NHS birthday is to acknowledge the inter-connectedness of the care system and value and invest in all aspects of it.

As I write this I’m an inpatient of the Western General Hospital Edinburgh. The Western started as a poorhouse dating back several centuries but now is a national and regional leader in oncology and neurology. The NHS has not stood still and neither should it but the big challenge is adequate funding for both health and social care. As a society we need to have this conversation and develop a commitment for the future that we sign up to contributing to. Next year’s best celebration would be the first birthday of health and social care, free at time of need. Now thats a birthday celebration i would look forward to.