Tag Archives: NHS

7 Surprising Side Effects of Shaving My Head

27 Oct

When I decided to shave my head to raise funds to buy PPE for NHS staff, I expected nothing except some teasing and to feel too nervous to check the mirror for a while. What I did not expect were the following:

1. Extra Available Cash

During my first shower after the shave I realised that it was going to be much quicker than usual, having no hair to wash, condition, and comb through, thereby saving on electricity and water; the shampoo would last for a year; and who needed conditioner any more? Not me. Furthermore, my hairdryer is gathering dust, saving more electricity. 

The Hub fully supported my naked bonce, not least because a passing thought/joke to frighten him took on a life of its own:

TB: If we’re going to be in lockdown, I think I’ll shave my head.

Hub: If that’s the case, then you should do it for charity.

TB: … …

TB: … …

TB: …um, I’ll think about it…

Hub: [To himself] Tee hee hee. I am and always will be the Master Prankster here.

2. Confidence

I expected to feel like a fool: I knew that this was never going to be my best look but I was prepared to endure it for a good cause. I suspected people might think I was a right-wing thug, or I’d had a really bad case of nits.

But there was something about letting go of my inhibitions enough to cut off my not-so-crowning glory that sheered off my vanity at the same time. It helped that I have the long-time love of a good man (when he’s not calling my bluff) and the knowledge that I would be mostly indoors for three months, but still…hair is an important part of identity, and dramatically changing that identity changes us.

I once had a genuine identity crisis when I learned I was two inches taller than I had believed myself to be for thirty-one years, because how I saw myself had fundamentally changed, even though outwardly, nothing had changed. This time, however, the outward had changed, and I didn’t care that it was unflattering: it freed me of the burden of pretending that I can fight off the ravages of childbearing and chocolate, and I JUST DIDN’T CARE. 

3. No More Menopause Shower Hair

Nobody told me before I started the change that my hair was going to fall out from time to time. I spent many months secretly irritated with Alex because he left so much hair in the drain – secretly, because he was only home between semesters and I wanted him to want to return home every time and fulminating glances across the bannister would have been counterproductive. Then he moved out for good and the hair was still there and then I read a list of menopause symptoms which included hair loss.

Well! If you’ve never seen an indignant menopausal woman before, I assume you’re still alive. WHY did nobody ever mention this to me before?

Anyway, first shower after The Shave, I bent down to *shudder alert* pull out the disgusting gunk…and there was none!

I was tempted to keep my head blank for this reason alone.

4. People Think I’m Brave

Thank you, but I’m not. I’m simply not brave, at all.

Brave is going to work knowing you could become infected and die, but you are a key worker and people rely on you.

Brave is accepting that you cannot attend your child’s funeral because you have to protect your other children.

So thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts, but brave is not having a severe haircut in your kitchen, no matter how unattractive it looks.

5. Blogging

This was the biggest surprise of all. As you know, I hadn’t blogged in over a year, but I naturally thought of my blog to publicise the fundraising for Masks For NHS Heroes. Then I had to write a post with the video of the shave. But then, however, during that shower – I do my best work in showers – I thought of this post about the unexpected aftermath of having a disrobed skull. Then I left it in the draft folder for six months because I was dealing with other health issues, but here I am, three weeks and three posts back into blogging, and in danger of making it a habit.

In jammies, dressing gown, and very warm hat.

6. A Texture Fetish

Not naughty in any way, just the constant need to rub a hand over my naked head – for comfort, I guess. The first day, I rubbed because it felt so strange. The next day, because it had already grown a tiny bit, enough to feel like I was rubbing velvet. Then there was the contrast of cold, smooth hands on a lumpy scalp; the velcro action when I pulled off a woolly hat after my walk (it feels like there’s some truth to the notion that heat escapes through the top of the head, because for a while there I had to don a hat or scarf outdoors and in).

7. Addition

I realised when I numbered the headings that I actually have only six surprising side effects, not seven.

Samson lost his strength; I lost the ability to math.

As Promised

3 Apr

Thank you to everyone who donated to Masks For NHS Heroes (there’s still time).

As promised, here’s my new haircut:

It’s Been A While…

30 Mar

I could grovel; or I could explain that I’ve been battling health issues for over a year, which is why this blog has been dormant. With all that’s happening in the world right now, I think I’ll just wave a nonchalant hand in the air and move on.

I will tell you this, though: in the last sixteen months the NHS saved my life and the sight in my right eye, and has dealt with sundry other issues – all for free. Trapped in the house (Hub and I are on a 12-week lockdown because we are both at risk, especially the Hub), I’m frustrated that I can’t help.

So here’s my offer: if ten people reading this make a donation to Masks For NHS Heroes, the Hub will shave me completely bald, and I’ll post the video here.

I know you are all battling for PPE in your own countries, so I’m aiming this at British readers.

Stay safe and well, lovelies, and I’ll see you on the other side x

Trapped Wind Or Not Trapped Wind? That Is The Question

5 Dec

Image result for funny nhs memesIf there was no NHS, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I’d be writing this in heaven right now. Okay, maybe there’s a little exaggeration – as far as I know, heaven doesn’t have wi-fi.

I was lying in bed reading, three weeks ago tonight, when I had sharp chest pain on the left side. I did wonder for a moment, ‘Am I having a heart attack?’ but it soon passed and because there had been nothing weird about my arm, and no nausea or sweating, I realised it was trapped wind.

Over the following days I had some small sharp wind attacks but nothing like the first. Six days later, on a Tuesday morning, I was standing chatting to my friend Pam and I had another painful experience like the first, accompanied by a hot flush and then a cold sweat, and nausea. At the hot flush (menopause, obviously), I stepped outside into the rain to cool down, which explained the cold sweat. The nausea? Well, I had been thinking about housework.

I explained the horrible trapped wind situation to Pam and she urged me to get checked out, thinking of chest infections and pneumonia. That seemed a bit over the top for excess gas but, as it happened, I was booked in for a blood test for my cholesterol level at my doctor’s surgery the following morning. I did some research about chest pain that evening and every single website urged, ‘Tell a doctor!’

I didn’t really want to waste anyone’s time but I couldn’t get the website messages out of my head but, as I was there, I mentioned the chest pain to the nurse, who insisted that I ask to see the on-call doctor, who saw me within fifteen minutes and immediately referred me to the hospital as a precaution (I presented with conflicting symptoms), bypassing A&E and booking me directly into the Acute Care Unit at Stepping Hill Hospital.

The Hub ran me up to the hospital and I was quickly tested and blooded. The ECG showed ‘small anomalies’ and one blood test was ‘inconclusive’. I was re-tested and re-blooded and sent for a chest x-ray.

There was some waiting around, yes, but mostly for test results, all of which came back within an hour. The doctor suspected there was a blood clot on my lung (pulmonary embolism). A nurse injected me (painfully) with blood thinner (to dissolve any possible clots) in my stomach (I still have a bruise, two weeks later), and gave me one to take home to use the next day. I could not for the literal life of me inject myself but the Hub could and did, and that’s why I found myself screaming at him, unNike-like, ‘Just do it!’ when he was murmuring softly that ‘This is going to hurt, I’m afraid, sweetie.’Image result for pulmonary embolism funny

It didn’t hurt, despite the roll of fat he pinched firmly, as instructed. He jabbed instead of glided and there was very little pain and no bruising at all. Professional Nurse: 0, The Hub: 1, as far as he’s concerned. I reckon he stuck it into so much fat, it’s still floating around, lost without a clot to hiss in.

The hospital had me back on Friday for a V/Q scan, which is when gamma radiation is injected into the body to examine airflow and blood flow in the lungs. Yes, I was radioactive for a while there, and it had nothing to do with the Hub annoying me. After lunch (provided free of charge, both days), I had an echocardiogram – an ultrasound for the heart. That was ay-may-zing, to see my heart on telly, as it was beating in my chest. Wow, Just wow. I love science!

The result of all of this outstanding care is that I definitely have a pulmonary embolism – the pains in my chest were clot moving days – but our fabulous NHS caught it in time and I’m not going to die just yet (buses and absent-mindedness notwithstanding). Nor am I going to be bankrupted for the pleasure of not dying. I am being treated with medication and I have some follow-up appointments but, basically, it’s life as normal, and the bank balance is lighter only by the cost of a medic alert bracelet (if you cut me, do I not bleed copiously and have to be extra careful from now on?).

I have a wonderful husband who was there with me every step of the way (though he does like to needle me), despite his own ill-health. I made him stay home on the Friday, however, because he can just sit there, waiting (his M.E. allowing him to do little else), and I simply can’t. My Kindle felt unloved on Wednesday, when I was forced to talk to the Hub in the waiting room instead of reading; but was happy on Friday, as we idled away the time together between tests.

Our NHS isn’t perfect in everyday life – it can take weeks to get a non-urgent appointment – but in an emergency, there’s no better health care provider, and I have the breath in my lungs to prove it.

And finally…For several days afterwards, this song kept going through my head:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

31 Oct
English: NHS logo

English: NHS logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My last two non-joke posts provoked some interesting comments, to my surprise. The surprise is not that they were interesting (do I not have the best, most intelligent readers in the world?  I do; and I do not want to end up needing the NHS in an urgent manner by accidentally suggesting otherwise).

My surprise came from the idea that the NHS is not necessarily a good thing. The NHS is a more than a good thing: it is a great thing.  But it is not a perfect thing.  It may have appeared that I was criticising the system and not the system practitioners; I wasn’t.  I understand that there is a finite pot of money and tough decisions have to be made.  It’s just easier if the tough decisions affect other people’s husbands.

I’ve paid for medical care (fourteen years in South Africa) and I’ve had it for nothing.  Trust me – free medical care is better.  You still have the two-hour wait in the doctor’s waiting room, but there’ll be some pennies left in your purse at the end of it.

I exaggerate: since my local surgery introduced an electronic reception board, the wait is usually brief.  And the greeting is friendlier.

The NHS may not be a perfect system and it may mean unpleasant people man the phones, but it is disinterested medical care.  Not disinterested in its patients, despite my moaning; but disinterested in its willingness to help as many people as possible, no matter what their financial circumstances.

Our financial circumstances are not great.  The NHS doesn’t mind that.  In the last few months I have had free emergency dental treatment, free doctor visits, a free mammogram and free antibiotics.  

Take a look at this:

This is the Hub’s daily tablet intake.  Fourteen tablets for his various conditions. Tablets are not cheap.  That’s what I’m told – we don’t pay for them.

The concept of free medical care is a foreign one to many of my readers but, believe me, I’m grateful.  We are grateful.  We were grateful when Spud had an emergency appendectomy.  When Tory Boy had his adenoids and tonsils removed.  When the Hub was given every test possible to diagnose his health issues.

Pound for pound, we have the best medical care in the world.  I find it incomprehensible that there is opposition to the idea elsewhere. Without free medical care, I could have died from blood poisoning brought on by oral infections which would have gone untreated because I could not afford to visit a dentist.

The NHS asks nothing of me except a portion of my taxes once I’m in a position to be taxed, and to tolerate the occasional moody receptionist.  I would tolerate a thousand moody receptionists.  It’s a small price to pay.

I’m A Tad Grumpy

31 Oct

No TV cop shows were spoiled in the making of this post.

English: Stepping Hill Hospital Viewed from th...

English: Stepping Hill Hospital Viewed from the railway bridge on Bramhall Moor Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia  © Gerald England)


The dreaded ‘T’ word has been deployed – I think you know that means I’m seriously put out.

I sat at the computer for all of five minutes this morning.  The stupid chair and rotten cramped desk made my legs ache just by looking at them.  I decided to catch up with one of my favourite cop shows instead.  A character I like died saving a character I dislike.  Great.

By this time it was nine o’clock so the doctor’s surgery was open.  I waited all day yesterday and heard nothing.  No wonder my legs ache – they’ve been supporting an over-extended bladder for 24 hours.

I phoned.  Scary Receptionist wasn’t there but she had passed the details on to Uninterested Assistant Practice Manager, who ‘hadn’t gotten around to phoning’ me yet.  UAPM told me it was the Trust’s fault: they changed the ‘boundaries’ of who could have the flu jab so, even though the NHS literature says everyone with a neurological condition can have it, they mean everyone with a neurological condition who the local Trust says can have it.  I can try phoning again in early December to see if they’ve got any jabs left, but I’m not holding my breath (except to count to ten while I remember I’m supposed to love everyone, even those who work at my local doctor’s surgery).

My only comfort is that the Hub will get the flu which, because of his weak nervous system, will turn to pneumonia, causing him to be hospitalised, ruining our Christmas and costing the NHS a thousand times more in ICU fees than it would have if they’d given him the absolutely vital flu jab in the first place.

Strangely, the Hub doesn’t find that the least bit comforting, but what does he know?  He’s sick.  He is still not fully recovered from his bug and it’s been more than two weeks.  He is weak and has hardly been out of bed, never mind the house.  He went out on Sunday for thirty minutes and that knocked him flat. He’s thinking about trying to get up again today.

All joking aside, if that’s what a bug can do to him, imagine how the flu could affect him.  No wonder I’m grumpy.  I don’t want Christmas ruined.

After the waste of time that was my phone call to the doctor’s, I tried going back onto the computer to complain about it to you.  No internet for over an hour.

‘Tad’ doesn’t even begin to describe my mood today.  Well, it wouldn’t, would it? It’s a noun, not an adjective.

I would like to make one thing clear: I might complain and the Hub might get really sick but the NHS is still wonderful and one of the best healthcare systems in the world – and free, most of the time.  If the Hub does get pneumonia, they will care for him and it will cost us nothing.  So it won’t bite into my Christmas Present Budget.  There’s always a silver lining.

We have an excellent hospital in Stockport.  You may have heard of it, it was in the news: many patients were poisoned last year by a member of staff.

Me & My Manky Teeth

1 Jul

I wasn’t joking the other day – if it wasn’t for modern dentistry and our wonderful (absolutely no irony intended here) NHS, I would look like this:

I have always had manky teeth.  I blame the parents.  They didn’t make me brush my teeth as a child, and now I’m reaping the reward.  It has nothing to do with my intimate relationship with chocolate, of course.

I have had five oral infections in about seven years – all leading to horrendous but necessary treatment: teeth pulling, poking around with sharp sticks, and an intermittent speech impediment.  Yet I brush my teeth at least twice a day.

Woot canal tweatment looms on Tuesday, now that the antibiotics I’ve been taking for five days have calmed the infection in my tooth-that-isn’t-a-tooth-so-much-as-a-massive-filling-with-gums.

Don’t worry – it won’t affect my blogging; in fact, it does me a favour – it’s been a while since I shared a horror story with you.  Something to look forward to.

If I had been born over a century ago, I’d probably be dead.  Not because of ancient dentistry: anyone born over a century ago is probably dead by now.  It’s simple mathematics. 

But I would probably have been dead at twenty from my first infection that led to root canal treatment that gave me a dark front tooth that made me look like Posh Spice because I never smiled in photographs.  Even now that the tooth has been veneered – although it tends to come off when I eat toffee lollies – I still smile with my mouth closed for photos.  Check out my old ones and you’ll see.

Tory Boy might have killed me as well.  It wasn’t dentistry that saved me that time, you’ll be disappointed to hear; but Dr Faktor in Park Town, Johannesburg, who saw me the week before my due date and booked me in for a caesarean eight days later.  He saw me again on my due date; told me TB was still breached (breeched?  I’m never sure: either he broke our contract or he came out wearing trousers); to go home; relax; come back tomorrow for the op.  No op = a baby coming out sideways = let’s not go there.

The Hub took me out to eat and to a movie: Look Who’s Talking.  I never give birth now, without thinking of Bruce Willis.

I bet he has good teeth.

Cover of "Look Who's Talking"

Cover of Look Who’s Talking


My Dog Is Sick; My Son Never Returns My Calls; My Tooth Fell Out; But Worse Than That: The Internet Is Down.

21 Jan
Using Internet Explorer, I made a close up of ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m writing this in Word because the internet keeps going down.  You’ll be reading it live online, of course; lucky you.  What’s so great about you that you get t’internet and I don’t?  Life just ain’t fair sometimes.

You’ll see by my first paragraph that I get a little grumpy if I don’t get online the minute I want to.  It’s like a drug.  Is it possible to mainline online?  Somebody better fix something sometime soon or someone’s gonna be bashing computers against someone’s head in a frenzy of withdrawal symptoms.


Toby seems to be on the mend!  Hooray!  My posts will stop sounding like eulogies.

He ate a little chicken last night; some more this morning; some more after that; some more…you get the idea.  He’s taking his tablets, drinking tea, and looking a mite perkier.  My bad mood has lifted like someone took their foot off the internet wire and fixed the blockage (it must be lumpy ether; what else can it be?).


Tory Boy: the incredible vanishing son.  Says he needs your help then leaves you hanging, worried sick that something has happened to him because why else would he say ‘Look at this for me’ and then not send the thing to be lookited, not answer emails, nor his phone?  It was only once I sent a text threatening to visit him that he let me know he wasn’t lying in a hospital bed, beaten to within an inch of his life with no id because it had been stolen by the beaters and there was therefore no way for the hospital staff to contact his frantic mother.  I only worried because he said ‘Look at this for me’ and then nothing.  If he had said ‘…,’ I’d have known not to worry because I never do when he ignores me for weeks at a time, never calls, texts or emails.  It’s a mother’s lot to be irrelevant; I get that.  But don’t let me think I’m relevant and then ignore me – you might as well put a gun to my head and tell me to choose between Maltesers or the internet: the resulting spin would make a tornado look like a gentle blow on a puppy’s ear.


So my tooth fell out again.  Not my tooth, actually my front left veneer.  It’s now the third or fourth time.  The dentist, who keeps a spare appointment just for my teeth emergencies, tried another tack.  She sand-blasted the back of the veneer, roughed up the front of the tooth, and cemented them together.  I wasn’t sure if I was at a dentist’s or a builders’ convention.

After two hours of starvation I tested it on a packet of Chewits and it’s still there.  I may have manky teeth but I’ve got good NHS. 


Coming Soon To A Blog Near You: The Greatest Quilt Ever Made!

(Once the Hub uploads the photos)

Saturation Point

21 May

SATs are taking place at the moment in primary schools up and down the country.   Actually, that’s not strictly accurate: some headteachers have banded together and banned them.  I used to think they were a good idea but I don’t anymore: they don’t take into account a child’s personal level of achievement, just how well they can sit tests.  I have helped out in a Key Stage 2 class every year for the past four years and I know that the children are not learning so much as learning how to pass exams.  It’s not the teachers’ fault: they have to teach the children to the SATs requirements.  In my school, the teachers do rather well, tying in projects to the theme; I imagine it’s the same in most primaries.  But the teachers hate it because the children have to be so focused on tests that they come to loathe learning.

If it was up to me, I would pare down the National Curriculum to its essentials: reading, writing, arithmetic.  Let them do those three things properly and then we won’t have whole generations of children leaving school unable to read and write or multiply in their head.  Amazing fact: it is much easier to learn new stuff in high school if you first learned to read in primary school.  

Apart from anything else, it’s the stress we are loading on our children: Spud was a mess before his SATs.  One day, he couldn’t go to the park straight from school because he forgot to take his phone, so he couldn’t call me to ask if he could go straight from school; when he got home he decided to go up on his bike.  We then had a long argy-bargy about his phone, which he was not allowed to leave in his jacket on the floor while he played football in case it got stolen, and which he didn’t want to keep on his person in case he fell over and smashed it, football being a contact sport with the hardest grass in the world, apparently.  Tiring of his prima donna performance, I sent him into the garden to lock up his bike because he was no longer allowed to go to the park.  Five minutes later I walked into the kitchen to see my last-born strolling nonchalantly in front of the house.  It seems he had scaled our six-foot fence and dropped to the pavement in an effort to scare the heebeejeebies out of me as a punishment for punishing him.  He got off lightly because I was so angry I sent him to his bedroom before I could wallop the heebeejeebies out of him.  Initially, I was going to make him stay in there forever, but the Hub got me to compromise once I had calmed down, and Spud was told he could come out of his room when he was in a better mood, because that way he set the terms of his own punishment.  He came down about a half hour later, bearing a handmade card on which ‘I’m sorry’ had been written in every available space, and, inevitably, ‘I’m sorry for being a brat.’  Then we had a long, long cuddle with much tickling, and we both felt better.  Until he had a tantrum about mince & chips vs cheese & chips which resulted in an ultimatum: Hub told Spud he could lay over his father’s knee face-down and have a good hiding, or he could lay over his father’s knee face-up and have a good tickling.  He opted for face-up and we never had a naughty peep out of him again that night.

Happy days, when every problem could be solved by a tickle.  Apart from appendicitis, that is.  The first day of his SATs, Spud felt anxious but was looking forward to his free breakfast.  The school provided free breakfasts all week to ensure that the children performed at their best.  They offered cereal, toast, fruit, bacon butties and sausage butties.  Naturally, Spud preferred to have breakfast at school that week.  Monday, anyway: he didn’t get the chance again.  He had to write his science exam in the staff toilet.  He was feeling unwell on the Monday morning and the teachers jollied him along through the day.  They kept a bin handy in the afternoon, and it was just as well.   Once he’d been sick, they put a table in the staff toilet and the Head sat with him, door open, so that he could run to the toilet when he needed to.  He was sick five times.  As soon as the exam was over, the school called us.  He was copiously sick all Monday night, falling asleep about ten, and then waking early to start again.  We decided to fall back on Plan B: the Head and another teacher (to observe her and ensure there was no cheating) were to come here, so that Spud could sit his exams at home between throwups.  He was to take all three exams in the afternoon.  

I had made an appointment for him to see the doctor on Thursday, because this was two vomiting sessions in two weeks, and about the ninth in six months.  I had taken him to see a doctor once already; he couldn’t find anything wrong and said Spud had just been unlucky that year, catching everything that was going round.  I had made notes of what he had eaten but each meal was different, so there was no common trigger.  He had some dry toast about seven-thirty on Tuesday morning, but couldn’t keep it or his drinks down.  Around ten-thirty he complained of a pain in his chest, which I put down to wind as he had nothing in his tummy.  It quickly spread to the whole of his tummy, especially his right side.  He got into bed with the Hub for comfort. Hub voiced what I was thinking, and got me to look up ‘appendix’ on the net.  The NHS Direct site must have been spying on us, because it had word-for-word what Spud was going through.  I phoned my doctor for advice, and she said to get him to A+E immediately. 

We were at Stepping Hill for 11h45 and the board said it was a 2 ½ hour wait, which was worrying, but unavoidable.  Just shows how little faith we had in the NHS – by 12h15 Spud had been triaged, admitted, and given pain relief.  He had been seen by two nurses, a doctor, and a surgeon.  Another half an hour and he was up on the children’s ward.  Another surgeon saw him, and then the first surgeon came back and inserted the cannula himself, because the nurses qualified to do it were all busy, and he wanted to ensure the blood tests were done asap.  There was quite a long wait after all that activity but Spud was given pain relief, so it wasn’t too dreadful for him.  He went for his operation at seven-fifteen that night.  We accompanied him to surgery, but only one parent was allowed in while anaesthetic was administered, so Spud chose the Hub.  Just as well, really, because I was ready to break down by this point, and I knew Hub wouldn’t.  Spud was worried that whoever he chose, the other’s feeling would be hurt – how sweet, when he must have been feeling so miserable.  We assured him there’s enough love to go round and all that mattered was that he felt happy. 

A kindly nurse grabbed my hand and rubbed my back when I had a little weep – out of Spud’s sight – and the Hub came out about ten minutes later.  The anaesthetist had told Spud to concentrate when counting backwards, and he concentrated so hard, it was apparently the longest he’d known a child to last before succumbing to oblivion.  I then went back to the ward for something to eat (I was starving!  I’d had nothing for twelve hours and I wasn’t the one who couldn’t keep anything down), and the Hub went home to collect pyjamas and stuff for me.  He was fit to collapse by this stage, but he had promised Spud he would be there when he woke up, and he never reneges on a promise.

Getting food was a bitter struggle.  As doctors and nurses were in and out all day, dribbling information, neither of us would risk leaving Spud’s bedside in case we missed something, and it wasn’t until five-thirty that we knew he’d be operated on at seven-thirty.  There is a parent’s room in the Treehouse (Stepping Hill’s children’s ward, which is actually four wards; Spud was in Rainforest Ward), so I was able to grab a cup of tea at least.  No hot drinks were allowed on the ward at all, however, so the Hub didn’t get one because he didn’t have the energy to walk all the way round to the parent’s room.  I did get him a cold drink from a machine that stole my change, and that had to do him.

As I was going to be the one staying overnight, the Hub insisted I went down to the restaurant, which had just closed when I got there, naturally, as had the WRVS station.  I had to leave the hospital and walk over to Sainsbury’s for something, so I was gone about forty-five minutes and of course, that was when the surgeon came to give us details about Spud’s op and I missed it all.  Still, I had a very tasty lasagne to heat up in the microwave later.  Cloudy linings and all that.

The Hub got back about ten minutes before we were called to the recovery room.  Spud was disoriented and woozy but glad to see us.  Once he was in bed, hooked up to a drip and antibiotics, the Hub was able to go home and I settled down for some much-needed sleep, having been assured that Spud would probably sleep through the night as he had been given morphine, etc.  Fold-up metal beds are provided next to each hospital bed so I didn’t have to leave him.  Which was just as well, because he woke up about every thirty minutes and at midnight was brightly telling me all about his op, or the bits fore and aft that he could remember.  Apparently, reacting like a cannabis muncher is a normal side-effect of the anaesthetic.

A wonderful Scots nurse called Margaret – the only person ever to detect from my accent that I had once lived in Wallasey – checked on him through the night, even finding out, after his 3a.m. query, whether his stitches were dissolvable or not (they were).  He thought she was wonderful, and was sad that he never saw her again, as her time off coincided with the rest of his stay.  Between us, Spud and I only got about three hours sleep that night, which was okay for him because he caught up next day, but left me, who didn’t, feeling totally drained.

Wednesday, he couldn’t bear to be left alone, and he was unsurprisingly niggly.  We played board games and card games; I read to him when he didn’t feel like reading himself; and the play staff brought a PS2 and a tv/video to his bedside.   He complained that he wanted visitors, and no sooner had the words left his mouth than my friend Alison arrived, with puzzle books galore.  She was parked where she shouldn’t, so it was a brief visit, but Tory Boy arrived as she was leaving.  He had come the previous day bearing gifts for Spud – a Sponge Bob Nudie Pants poster and a chocolate chicken – and he squeezed in a visit between exam revision sessions the next day.  Fortunately, his college is fairly close to the hospital.  He was amazingly helpful and uncomplaining about taking on Spud’s (and some of my) chores, and at being virtually abandoned for three days.

And then Helen (t’vicar) appeared; she reckons a dog collar is very useful sometimes, as it gets her into the places other collars cannot reach.  All three stayed only briefly, but they cheered up Spud.  To be fair, he was an excellent patient, just bored.

The Hub came in the afternoon, having struggled to sleep the night before, and then waking at six and staying awake to phone to see how Spud was.  Once he knew he was okay, he got four solid hours, and then cooked me some sausage butties for my dinner.   He also brought the toothpaste I’d forgotten to put on Tuesday’s list, and it was then I understood why Spud’s visitors had left so quickly.  I grabbed a shower and my food and many cups of tea while the Hub stayed with Spud.  He and I got a better night’s sleep on Wednesday, apart from being woken seven or eight times because of the comings and goings of nurses, doctors and patients…I never knew hospitals were so noisy at night!  No wonder they drug the patients.

On Thursday, Spud had recovered so well and had been such a good patient that they let him go home once he had walked around a bit and had a bath.  We got home about three, and he was tired but glad to be in his own bed.  His wound healed well and he has the neatest scar.  The hospital staff complimented him on being a model patient, for he had no complaints and a ‘thank you’ for every horrible medicine.  The doctors said his appendix was inflamed but they got it nice and early.  People complain about the NHS, but we had as good an experience as you can have when your son’s insides are being ripped out by strangers.  The info on the NHS Direct site was specific; the receptionist at our doctor’s put me through to a doctor as soon as I mentioned suspected appendicitis; the doctor was right to tell me to take him straight to A+E; we didn’t hang about in A+E, and he was up on the ward within an hour of being admitted; all of the staff (including office) in the Treehouse were as helpful, kind and friendly as could be; the wards were spotless; the staff regularly washed their hands or used the hand stuff on the ward, to avoid MRSA, and firmly encouraged parents to use it also.

I only have good things to say, apart from complaining about the dreadful food, which appalled me.   I guess schools are so concerned with healthy eating that I expected the hospitals would be too.  They’ve got a looooong way to go.  And there was nothing for parents staying on the ward, of course, except toast or cereal at breakfast, but back to that cloudy lining – I lost 2lbs in three days.  I’ve put twenty on since then; maybe I could do with having my own appendix out.

God Bless The NHS

10 Feb

Today’s original heading was It Doesn’t Happen Often, But I Actually Find I Am Outraged Today (snappy, eh?).  I am a Yankophile and would probably vote Republican if I was an American citizen, but I came across an alert that said, Vote Republican: Together, we can Prevent access to healthcare, and I felt my blood boil for the first time since British Gas tried to lure me back as a customer; the same British Gas who charged me three times as much as any other utility supplier has ever done and treated me appallingly for the privilege. 

I had marshalled a stern retort to the offender and written my own post exposing the nastiness of American politics, before I had even had time to click the mouse on the offending blog.  When I did, all I got was this picture.  I tried to find somewhere to comment and it was then I realised I was on a sales website and the logo was a pig, not an elephant.  Looking closer, I realised it was a cushion with a satirical message.  It gave me a good laugh. 

Sick Pig Throw Pillowhttp://www.cafepress.co.uk/+sick_pig_throw_pillow,287271298

It has done its job because it set me thinking about my own situation.  Without access to free healthcare I could, quite literally, have died last week.  I had a nasty infection that floored me even with two sets of antibiotics.  We have no spare cash; I could not have afforded those antibiotics if I had needed to pay for them.  The infection could quite easily have turned to septicemia without antibiotics.  I can go back further: I had my wisdom tooth out because I have had two infections in the past two years caused by its awkward position in my gum; I can’t afford to pay for dental treatment.  This blog might never have existed and my children would have been motherless today if I had not had access to free treatment for the infections. 

I don’t believe I am being melodramatic: people die from septicemia every day.  I once worked with a man whose sister died after giving birth because she had needed dental treatment while pregnant and refused it because she didn’t want to harm her baby.  It was too late for her by the time she delivered.  It was tragic but, in her case, she had the option of treatment.  Millions of people around the world don’t have that option, including in America.  I sincerely hope President Obama succeeds in his reforms despite the opposition.  I know there were similar arguments against our own NHS before 1948, but I am so glad they didn’t win that fight, and I have the healthy gums to prove it.


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