Monday 29th August 2011

Public Holiday, Comparative Normality

  I had a really good night. No pain and stayed in bed until 8am.

While I was lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up, I reflected on the service I have received from the UK National Health Service.

The NHS seems to be almost universally criticised and most people outside of the UK seem to believe that it is on the point of collapse. My experience over the last 2 weeks has been very different.

From the moment of my emergency admission on 16th August, my treatment and care has been exemplary. Various arrays of specialists have been brought together at short notice to diagnose my problems and plan and deliver treatment. Expensive equipment has been available on demand.

The doctors have all been prepared to spend time explaining everything that is going on. The nursing staff have been amazing. In the middle of one night when I was in severe pain, one nurse just talked to me for more than 30 minutes, while the on call doctor was located to prescribe a stronger pain killer.

The quality of the food was excellent, especially considering that it is mass produced and has to be distributed.

There is a tremendous awareness of infection control, with almost a spring clean of the ward every morning and hand sanitiser everywhere. Away from the hospital, the "occupational therapy" team leapt into action. Because I have a fractured hip, I do need some additional equipment at home to allow me to function as normally as I can. For example, my toilet seat is too low and with crutches, it is difficult to carry things from room to room. Before I got home from hospital someone had delivered a trolley which can replace crutches for a short period and can carry loads and a toilet seat riser.

Remember, those of you outside the UK, all of this is free at the point of delivery. I will not receive a bill and I will not have to deal with an insurance company.

Back to today. Later on this morning, I will need to phone the hospital, so that the doctors can confirm that there are no complications that need immediate attention.

I have just phoned the hospital and spoken to the consultant. It seems that I gave the right answers to the questions, so I am allowed to stay at home.

Tomorrow I have to go back to my GP to register the drugs that will need repeat prescriptions and my next hospital check-up is Wednesday.

An important element of feeling good is getting out of the house and making sure that I don't end up just sitting around. That is why I get very excited by little things. Today, it was a simple trip to the council tip (although it is not politically correct to call it that).

Sue had a lot of stuff to recycle, so my younger son John helped her load the car. At the "recycling centre", the staff are always helpful. It is amazing how the attitude of the staff improved with the influx of Poles a few years ago, (I guess that is another politically incorrect statement, but, I don't actually care at the moment. Tomorrow's excitement is likely to be a visit to Starbucks while Sue goes shopping.

I have a lot more energy than yesterday, so this morning I was actually WORKING, and I continued this afternoon.

Mid afternoon, I had a humbling visit from another member of St. Mary's and our house group. I am not going to identify him, because I don't want to betray any personal confidences.

His 19 year old daughter suffered an injury (skiing, I believe) which needed surgery.

Unfortunately, the wound became infected and has resisted all attempts to clear it over an extended period. Because of the position of the wound, she cannot sit down, or lie down on her back. She has limited mobility and is virtually house bound. She has had to leave university and plans for her to return in October are not going to happen.

All this time, I have been praying routinely in our house group, but not really aware of actually was going on. This family only lives a few hundred yards from us. In the midst of this, his wife took the trouble to bake us a cake and he took the time to visit me.

I felt privileged to share details and feelings. I am now in a position to pray much more specifically for the daughter and the family.

The rest of my day was boringly routine apart from the array of tablets, medicines and injections that I needed to sort out.