Let’s be truthful, how many of us watch TV soaps and think ‘please God, if it happens to me, let it be ER rather than Holby City.’ You want to be treated by an eccentric genius surrounded by space age technology, rather than Harry Worth on a 1970s Dr Who set. That said, the place I’m banged up in at the moment looks as though it’s received a fair share of the largess which has been wending its way towards the NHS. For what it is, it’s difficult to fault the service; the beds are comfortable and meals arrive at regular intervals. If you’re a frequent consumer of airline food you’ll be more than happy. Surgeons stalk the wards like a bunch of gun slingers, checking their victims. Teams of young doctors follow behind consultants, learning the ropes. There’s an enormous caste system - much more so than in most organisations I’ve come across - and after just one week, have yet to fully appreciate the different rankings. You’re always in fear of offending someone by asking a favour, just in case it’s above or below their station.
Being rooted to a bed day after day whilst staring at the same wall and ceiling is guaranteed to induce something of a stir crazy feeling. The saving grace is the sheer number of people that sail past to distract you during daylight hours… Half six and someone’s already stuffing pain killers down your throat; a new shift arrives to start the ball rolling; the next guy in measures temperatures, heart rate and blood pressure; then it’s breakfast; off to the bathroom for a shave, whilst they change the linen; quick visit from one of the surgeon’s boys; tea break; consultants and junior doctors rounds; and before you know it, lunch. The afternoon isn’t much different; augmented by blood tests, trips to the X-ray department, chat‘s with the cleaners, mobile library ladies and TV maintenance staff. Dinner arrives at five thirty; a nod to visitors, five more chapters and they’re turning off the lights. I’ve just about polished off two books, but it’s been a struggle. The biggest treat of the week was time out for a CT scan: it got me around the hospital, affording a chance to see more of my world and meet people. The sheer number of staff is mind boggling.