Category : Musings
It’s only after you experience something you fully understand and appreciate what is involved – how life changing the experience may be. Ok, a bit vague and I guess that could include every experience we ever have. But to elaborate, during the spring of 2020 the phrase ‘National Health Service’ or its acronym became part of daily conversation and on every TV and radio news article. For the majority of us this national treasure of ours has lingered ever present in the background, but only given thought during an occasional trip to the doctor. This year the NHS has taken on a new meaning for me and with it a new respect.
Coincidentally timed with the rise of the COVID 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, I began to fall ill, becoming increasingly fatigued whilst losing significant weight… and believe me I had little of it to lose. Ultimately, all roads led me to an admission via A&E followed by a three-week inpatient stay.
During my confinement with no visitors, and amidst a barrage of tests, scans, biopsies and medical information coming thick and fast, I floated on a roller coaster of a journey both physical and deeply emotional.
I don’t know if being a writer of fiction lends itself to an additional and harmful level of imagination, but during the dark hours when alarms regularly ping, when regular obs are taken, ‘Robert I’m just going to take your blood pressure’ or another patient requires help, I slipped into the rabbit hole.
This period was very dark and I now understand the potential effects of depression. I wandered into a world of finalities. What was wrong with me? Is it sinister? I’m so weak will I be able to walk the dog again or work in the garden – be anything other than a burden. Seems over dramatic in the cold light of day. The only thing that kept me from floundering were the daily video calls from my guardian angel… my soul mate. She, who amidst who own demons, gave me practicalities to focus on with an endless supply of love and encouragement. Thank heavens for technology and the smart phone.
I was something of an anomaly… didn’t quite fit the profile for a simple diagnosis, and it took a number of consultants of different specialisms to agree to a likely cause and begin treatment. There’s no doubt that my life has now changed. To what degree has yet to be understood.
But these musings are less about me and more about the experience of being drawn in to the NHS machine.
Three weeks is a long time away from loved ones, but long enough to appreciate what we take for granted.
The unstinting care I received from the moment I arrived in A&E was without limits. I was cared for. I was fed and watered. I was kept informed… visited by highly specialised consultants who answered my questions clearly and with patience, so I knew what to expect and when. From the senior doctors, through nursing staff, domestics, porters, students, care assistants and admin… everyone has my admiration for their dedication to care, at the same time amidst the nightmare of a pandemic with its increased risks.
This NHS of ours is often regarded as a faceless entity, a collective target for complaint derided for its failings as if ‘it’ is some single celled beast. But it is not. It is made up of 1.5 million highly dedicated individuals who could be our parents, our sons or daughters – our friends. People we pass in the street every day. Normal people who unstintingly give of themselves to allay our fears, make us comfortable and doing this not just for us as an individual, but for each of the other poor souls lying in a bed a few feet away.
72 years and climbing is a remarkable achievement and one we should take stock of and give of our gratitude. I for one have an endless supply of it.
Thank you to our NHS – our National Treasure.