Under attack

I appear to be under attack this week. First by germs which have taken my voice away and given me a squeak. Secondly, by some people who seem to think that I am a bad Christian for criticising some nurses.  You can read their comments after all the other ones from nurses saying I was quite right in highlighting changes in standards of nursing. I haven’t responded yet because I’ve not had time or the inclination but I will.

Hospital shambles

I spent about 6 hours yesterday sitting in A&E of the Royal Infirmary with my dad from 6am to 12noon.

Not once did anyone use the antibacterial handwash in his bay. Not once. But then it was empty so they wouldn’t have had much joy anyway. I did ask a few folk if they’d give me a new one but no joy.

Dad was hooked up to 15 minute blood pressure which was taken automatically, along with his oxygen level and resps. From time to time a nurse had to come in and write these figures down. Most of the time they didn’t say a word to my Dad. No “How are you?” No “I’m just taking a note of this for your file.” No “Everything is looking fine, don’t worry.” No “Can you get you anything?” No nursing. Just note-taking.

At around 8am Dad decided it was breakfast time.  I asked a nurse if it was okay to get him a coffee from the machine in the waiting room. “No,” she replied, “we’ll get it. Just give me a minute.”  An hour later I asked the same nurse if he could get a drink as he suffers from dehydration occasionally and is diabetic.  “Here’s a cup of water.”  At 10am I asked a nurse who had come to write things down again if they ever got breakfast in this place.  (For I’m pretty sure all the nurses did.) “Only if they are well enough to eat and drink,” was the reply.  “Well, he is,” I said. “<Sigh> Alright, I’ll get someone to get it for him. Toast ok? Coffee?”  A young smiley nurse brought it to us 10 minutes later. I didn’t see anyone else being offered anything and not all of them were on death’s door. Far from it, as far as I could see. No wonder they are ill.

The doctor was called away 3 times in the course of speaking to us. I have no complaint about that. There were other sick people. He always came back, sometimes after an hour, and apologised. (Dad thought he was too young to be a consultant!)

Dad was to be kept in for observation for it may have been a heart attack but there were no beds.  We were told we’d just have to wait.  But then someone came in who was quite poorly so dad was put out of his cubicle and parked beside the nurses bay in the corridor.  He was meant to be on oxygen but the nurse who was going to get some portable oxygen never returned.

In the course of our time there I watched nurses deal with a drug overdose patient hand-cuffed to 2 policemen. They wore gloves while dealing with her but then would come out and answer the phone while wearing the gloves. What about the next person who picks up with phone without gloves?

I saw lots of things. What I didn’t see was nursing. What I didn’t see was caring.

Is that too harsh?  Were they busy? Yes, I’d say they were kept pretty busy.  But how much longer would it have taken to talk while doing the blood-taking, or the ECG, or pillow plumping – oh sorry, I forgot, there were no pillows. A shortage.  I didn’t see hand-holding, reassuring arms round shoulders, listening. Too busy to listen perhaps? A listening shortage.  I saw nurses deal with a patient and go back to the computer screens and stand and click the mouse until the next task. Filling in on-line forms? Possibly. But most of the time they didn’t type anything, just stood and swirled the mouse around while looking about – but never catching a relative’s eye.

I realise that emergency medicine is different from ward nursing. But I don’t accept that they are too busy to talk and reassure. And I don’t accept that a system can’t be put in place that someone makes breakfast for those in the emergency ward. For they were not all emergencies, as far as I could see.

Bring back Matron. Not to swish around checking the nurses are all working. No, a Matron who walks round the beds asking the patients if everything is okay.

The problem with extroverts

I love people. I really do. I have learned over the years that I also get my energy from being with people. I like listening to their stories and I love the banter of conversation.

(I was thinking today that maybe that is why I find silent retreats so difficult. There you are with a bunch of people and you can’t speak to one another. My idea of hell. People are there to learn from and be with.)

So this being off sick thing is really starting to get to me and we are only 2 1/2 weeks in with 4 to go.  The first week I was feeling pretty awful so lying around was okay. The second week was like being on holiday: reading books and catching up on TV series and movies. This week I had an outing to 2 shops and had to lie down for a day after. But I am really feeling okay. So I can spend my mornings doing pew sheets and cutting out angels for the crib service and the afternoons doing a little light reading or contemplating my tax return.

However… all I really want is to talk to people. That’s what I’m really missing. I’m sure clergy friends see my phone number and run for the hills. My little flock who visit look alarmed when I double lock the door behind them and offer them tea and cake and scintillating conversation which never draws breath.  And I’m sure poor Fr K thought he was just getting away with a quick ‘how are you’ phone call this morning only to find me still wittering on an hour later and holding up his busy day.

So there we have it. Spare a thought for the sick extrovert. It really is hell for them not the paradise you might expect.

What do you do when you’re off sick?

It is almost a week since I got out of hospital. I am bored already. 6-8 weeks is starting to look like an awfully long time.

To begin with, when you are feeling poorly and dopey apres anaesthetic, it is fine to lounge around in your jammies, popping in and out of bed, watching a little light TV (attention span not good over 30 mins) and reading a page or two before falling asleep again. Having a shower really takes it out of you and a lie down is required before the hair is dried.  Checking emails and feed reader lasts about an hour before a shift of position is required. Appetite is lacking and a little bit of toast is about all you can manage politely but when pressed will force some French Toast/Eggy Bread down reluctantly.

But as the week goes on, things start to improve.  This brave wee soldier can even manage to make her own tea now, if forced. Attention span for TV is up to one hour programmes, but fell asleep half way through an old episode of Morse. (Enjoying old episodes of Moonlighting and Tooty Fruity.)  Emails and playing on Facebook etc is now lasting 2 hours. One wee nap in the afternoon is all that’s needed although little dozy episodes do happen from time to time.  Reading ecclesiastical whodunnits is improving and up to at least 10 pages before eyes close.  Dealing with lack-of-water-crisis at church is not fazing and I am sure that someone else can deal with it without my help.

Son #1 has turned out to be a really good nurse. He loves cooking and has been a little disappointed that I’ve not required any of his masterpieces yet. But the cups of tea and fluffing of pillows have been timely. And he is awfully good at nagging when he thinks I’ve been at my desk for too long.  His girlfriend is now on my car insurance so is taking care of the shopping and enjoying having a runaround for a wee while.

So there we have it. Week 1 of convalesence post hospital is almost over and I am feeling much better.  Thanks to whoever brought me a doze of the sniffles. (Coughing and sneezing is a big no-no!) Visitors always welcome – if you make your own tea.

A lesson in humility

Sunday morning brought my sister and her boys over to do my housework and change my bed.  They also taught me Harvest Moon for my DS Lite in case I’m interested in getting it.  (Not sure that I am!)

Son #2 came to visit and eat bacon rolls.

A & K from church came to visit with a purple cushion with ‘Queen’ on it and some books.

D & M came with communion which was a surprise and lovely. That’s the second time this week I’ve been ministered to and it was really rather special.

Finished My Name Was Judas by CK Stead which is our book group book this month. Well, this will be an interesting discussion methinks.  We have to assume that Judas did not commit suicide or die but lived on in Greece and is now telling his version of a shared childhood with Jesus and what it was like being one of the 12. There were quite a few ‘oh that could be right’ moments and lots to ponder. Interesting version of the naked young man who was seen running away when Jesus was captured. Loved that bit! Worth a read.

To tell or not to tell?

Blogging about personal things or one’s health is always a tricky one. I know some clergy just don’t do it.  Never a peep.  Although sometimes they use their cat as a substitute. Others do it a lot and that comes in for some criticism. It is a dilemma, right enough.

In the past I have blogged probably more than I should.  Occasionally it has brought about interesting discussions and I was glad I did it. But that is not always the case.

The thing is, there is so much mileage in this latest medical adventure of mine. The jokes are just bubbling away during visits and phone calls and I’d love to share them with you. But that good taste gene is just pulling me back whispering in my ear, “Don’t do it Ruth. Step away from the lurid stories.  You are a priest and must maintain the aura of …. ” (fill inthe gap yourself.)

So let us just say that I have had a wee stay in hospital which involved an operation under general anaesthetic. It was quite nippy after. All has gone well and now I must desist from lifting, driving, bending or hoovering for 8 weeks.  My attention span is that of a gnat.  So far my days have passed in reading, sleeping, reading, sleeping, sleeping, a little TV and then more sleeping. Visitors have been much welcome and very entertaining so far.

And I have promised not to sit at the computer all day long. So a little update in the mornings which I fear will all be much of a muchness is all that I shall do. Well I’m saying that now…