13 November 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

Today is a day of special significance for many of us as we remember those who have sacrificed their lives in so many conflicts in so many places around the world. It is so much more than wearing a poppy whether you agree with the conflict situations our government engages in on our behalf or not. In particular I remember and reflect upon those who return from fighting so badly damaged that their lives will never resemble the normality they once knew. To even consider making these people redundant at the time of cuts to the military budgets is, in my opinion, a shameful indictment of our society. But we have been reassured that this was never the intention so perhaps I need not worry. Oh dear me when did I become so cynical or is it experience that makes me pause before believing what I hear on the radio or read in the papers?

 After a brief stay in hospital this week I felt the need to restore a sense of normality and found myself in Starbucks on Friday morning. Fellow coffee imbibers provide an opportunity to people watch and as you will have gathered it is something I enjoy enormously. This week was especially mesmerising. Two young suited women in high heels eating skinny muffins with perfectly manicured fingernails. It is surely the ballet equivalent on dancing en pointe – it certainly is exquisitely elegante! And the shoes are pointed black patent and leopard skin print stilettos – Teresa May eat your heart out! Curious term eat your heart out – why would you?

 Starbucks mark the minutes silence on Remembrance Day as the staff member comes round to inform punters the Stilletto Skinny Muffins make a swift move to the exit checking their mobiles as they mince. Mince because this walk comes with the footwear not for effect. I am envious of the ability to multitask thus. Eye contact with the floor is something I can no longer do without. Hence the Spinster tends to stride menacingly at best and do a slow shoe shuffle more frequently!

 The minute silence is broken only by a small child and a disembodied voice from the Drive Throu’. The population of Starbucks solemnly and reverentially observe the moment of reflection. It is humbling to be part of this assembly as we collectively pause momentarily to share something simultaneously uniquely personal and absolutely universal.

The experience of being an inpatient has disturbed me in more ways than I would have predicted. I understand how my father felt after his horrific experience last year. It has often been noted that hospitals are no place for sick people but until this week I hadn’t appreciated what this really meant. I should issue a warning that the next few paragraphs are a bit of a rant! Feel free to skip them if such behaviour bores you, I shall be unaware thus not offended.

Admitted when the symptoms could no longer be managed by the GP I found myself arriving at the Heath Hospital around 530 pm. Following assessment including X-rays and blood tests, (that result in soiling my sweater which thankfully Vanish has resolved), I am finally shown to a bed at 1 am. The process is tortuous and humiliating with a range of health professionals watching me struggle to carry a bag and two crutches. In retrospect I should have taken a rucksack but it all happened rather quickly.

Fatigue overwhelmed me by midnight and I asked for a wheelchair when the nurse announces he will walk me and another patient to the ward. My ‘convenience’ is inconvenient it seems. On arrival at the bed I lose my balance getting out of the chair; this alarms the receiving ward staff. ‘Is this patient safe to be on this ward?’ she emits forgetting momentarily the rest of the patients are asleep. Realising I am still there she asks me ‘is your balance usually this bad?’

Well it’s not great but right now I am very tired and it’s dark. The lights have not been turned on and I am performing the manoeuvre by torch light! Are we perhaps playing murder in the dark? Unexpected as I am the nurse apologies that there are no blankets; the hotel NHS is evidently under stocked. By the time they have finished interfering with my person it is passed 2 am. Bizarrely I manage to sleep for a few hours. It is a few hours into the morning before I realise why the ward is not getting any lighter; there are no windows, we are below ground level in the basement.

The Short Stay Surgical ward primarily deals with day surgery and my fellow bed occupants are here for eye surgery. As the hours pass they are all marked with arrows above the requisite eye; after a short absence they all return with eye patches taped over the marked eye. Unable to eat before the operation they are all offered tea and toast on their return. Amusingly (almost) without exception they are all delighted at being given white bread! All except one older lady who said (on being given her toast)’I forgot to say I don’t eat white bread’; nevertheless she eats it.

 As I am not there for surgery the ward staff are a combination of bemused by and disinterested in my case. The doctor on the ward round prescribes medication and is thrown when I ask if I need to be in hospital for this. He stares at me before saying I could experience extreme stomach pains so yes I have to stay plus a specialist nurse will be coming to see me. I emphasise that I don’t like being in hospital to which he responds ‘neither do I’. I respond ‘but you are paid to be here’ to which he says ‘fair enough’!

 The treatment does not alleviate the symptoms and I get them to agree that the only other medication available could be administered by a District Nurse at home. Reluctantly I am allowed to go home although not before I have become so anxious that my blood pressure rises and the pain goes through the roof.  Usually patients are allowed to manage their medication themselves in hospital but this does not apply to the controlled drugs I rely on. At home I control my pain myself; in hospital not only are my drugs taken from me two nurses are required to sign a form to give me the same drugs.

Some people (for this read Auntie) think I should have stayed in hospital gritting my teeth while feeling humiliated and coping with the pain (caused by the stress of being in hospital). Others (for this read mum and friends who know me) believe the treatment is unacceptable. Hospital regimes make patients dependent and if you already have additional needs frankly you are buggered because the staff are not equipped to respond.   

 I do appreciate that my GP was only trying to do his best and would be horrified at what happened. I write a lengthy description of my experience to accompany my discharge note. I need him to understand why I would be extremely reluctant to go back into hospital especially when the symptoms can be managed at home. No doubt he will roll his eyes when he reads the note and shake his head when he next sees me!

 Most alarming was my medication chart that the nurse responsible for me presented me with. The night staff had copied the entire repeat prescription onto the chart! One element of my condition is treated using more than 10 drugs – but not all at the same time! Curiously no one had thought to ask me to interpret the long list of medication.

 On Saturday I was working with a client in Abergavenny and this is a journey I take every six weeks or so. Periodically I get a mental block about which exit to take off the M4 and this was one such occasion. Off the wrong exit round the roundabout and back onto the M4 I go! Fortunately the traffic is light at the weekend and I still arrive in good time. My post hospital brain is addled!On the way back from Abergavenny I stop for a sandwich in the M&S service station outlet. As I drive I attempt to eat an egg sandwich without getting the filling on my fresh from the dry cleaners boiled wool jacket. As I am on the motorway slip road I look in the rear view mirror and spy a transport police vehicle behind me. Can I be pulled over for eating an egg sandwich whilst driving?  Does this constitute reckless behaviour I wonder?

 Police tactics reached new innovative heights this week when offenders were offered free beer by a pretend market research company. The tactic successfully caught a bevy of thirsty criminals – where did this happen? That would be Derbyshire and more specifically my home town of Chesterfield! Come on people wise up! Don’t bring your fellow residents into disrepute!

 Just to let you know I am planning to change the way the missives are written. Well not written exactly as the word smithing process will be the same i.e. random information enters my head, is swirled around like a cocktail shaker and then out it pops in a stream of words on my computer. But at present I write the missive once a week, email it to two mailing lists and post it on the blog site. All in time for you to receive on Sunday (or Monday morning)

From the beginning of December I will only be posting the missive on the blog site. So should you wish to continue to receive and or read the missive you will need to sign up to the blog site. If you do sign up you will get an email telling you when something has been posted. I am attempting to streamline my activities to make them more manageable. I may write shorter pieces during the week rather than the current longer ones.

 This week I will be sending out the final call for the November Salon on the 22nd with Sue Williams. As I have mentioned before this will be the last one of the Season after which I will be taking a break for a few months. I do hope you will be able to join me for a completely festive free celebration coupled with a conversation about censorship!

 Now I shall leave you to pop an M&S turkey breast stuffed joint with a bacon lattice in the oven. Nothing more gratifying than a bargain – the item was reduced as the sell by date is today. And what could be more convenient than a foil dish that can be popped in the dustbin after cooking! Apologies to vegetarian readers and to the environment as the foil item will no doubt end up in landfill. What should I do to atone for this environment crime I wonder?    

 In sophistication as always

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Filed under Musings of a Contemporary Spinster, Sophisticated Salons

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