More Tales from the Ward.

Chapter Four: The morning drug run

Pablo Escobar would have more luck shifting this load of narcotics than the nurses today.

Six patients and 90 minutes later and the nurses are still trying to rouse half the patients here.

Christine’s insisting she doesn’t need the mega-dose of antibiotics for her infection because she’s a nurse and she knows it doesn’t work for her.

In the next moment she’s asking to have her appointment at the New Zealand cardiac centre changed, and can she call to change it.

Meanwhile Two-Tone cannot be woken in any way. Her silence the only indicator of her state of consciousness.

Overnight there’s been a huge thunderstorm. The man down the hall has been calling for his wife Carol, roaming the corridors with some determination to find her.

Night Stalker is also comatose having spent the night hovering over the sleepers.
No amount of prodding results in even a flicker of movement.

Christine wants to get out of bed again. A nurse maintains station at the bottom to prevent her. The nurses have swapped her bed with Two-tone so that they’re closer to the action.

Finally, the drug nurse arrives before me and starts to examine my stash bag of medication I’ve been faithfully taking twice a day.

I can identify what I need to take just by looking at the foil strip, but the nurse insists on removing each pill and the replacing the packet into the bag.

I call out the meds by their brand name but that’s no good here. I need to take a course in pharmacology.

Eventually I’m presented with a small paper cup of anonymous white pills of similar sizes. My bi-coloured MS capsule I know. That’s easy. But the others?

If I could out of the hospital onto the mean streets I could get something going here.


Chapter Five: Late night tales.

The fading light always seems to herald a change in character of my ward mates.

Two-tone had a new tune. The notes higher and longer. I couldn’t tell if she was more at peace but it was less annoying to my ear. No-one could wake her from her torpor during daylight. Night time really did bring her alive.

The doctors had prescribed Night Stalker a sleeping pill. She’d been unconscious most of the day.

“We need to get you resting at night,” they said. Between the lines: so we can too.

But the drugs hadn’t taken effect yet because I watched as she counted OCD-like the pleats in the curtain surrounding her cubicle.

Once she’d entered she counted them on the inside. Then she’d re-emerge to collect another coffee.

No wonder she wasn’t sleeping. Even the hot brown hot liquid masquerading as coffee must contain some caffeine.

To my left, Christine was beginning to kick off. I’d heard her earlier telling the nurses that doctors thought she had dementia but she couldn’t believe that was correct.
Then she asked when her husband John was coming to drive her home.

Later after fighting off the nurses trying to prevent her getting out of bed calling for John to wake up.

As I tried to sleep, screaming: ‘HELP POLICE.’

Carol’s husband had clearly found her because he was quiet tonight, although I could just hear the sound of a wounded animal whimpering down the corridor.

As Christine kept the nurses engaged Hashimoto decided to make the night even more lively.

Her attempt to get up to shuffle to the loo ending with high speed onto the floor.

Lights on. Everyone awake. No point trying to shut my eyes really.

Later she told me of the loss of her daughter at eight weeks old.

My marriage didn’t survive, she said.

Chapter Six: The NHS diet.

You’d think that for all the lecturing Britons are given as a nation to eat our ‘Five a day’ hospitals at the very least would make a better effort to practice what they preach.

But judging by the vast array of mush on offer on the daily menus it is a physical impossibility to even come close to that number.

The day begins early with an offer of tea, brown liquid masquerading as coffee or hot chocolate which is really just cocoa flavoured sugar.

That’s pretty good, but as it’s sugar it should probably be banned.

Lunch: soup from a tin (high salt content), a salad with plastic cheese (plastic), slices of ham (isn’t that red/processed meat banned too?)

Moving vaguely to the veggie section: jacket potato. But that’s not really veggie because it’s starch.

Accompanied by beans, which should be banned for the methane content, tuna, ditto for the mercury level, or cheese, which should be banned for the cholesterol.

Onto the hot mains of slush: cottage pie, hot pot or macaroni cheese. A possible item with texture roast chicken breast, with the skin off, of course: high fat content.

More potatoes creamed or roast.

But, oh, a possible bit of green: vegetables of the day, straight out the tin.

Dessert more stodge: jam sponge, apple pie, rice pudding, jelly and ice cream.

So, not only do I feel like I’m on a mental ward I may be on a children’s one too

If it wasn’t for the FRESH fruit lady I can’t see how anyone could get a balanced diet.

Which makes it all the more laughable that I had a row with the nurse dispensing meds this morning over a vitamin D pill I keep in my drug bag for simplicity.

We have to prescribe it, she said, and have it in our system.

Why, I asked, I can hardly overdose on a vitamin pill I take because I can’t get outside and get naturally by sitting in the sun.

Later the food lady came round to take my order.

I joked about the appalling coffee.

I can get you some Nescafé sachets if you want. You just have to ask.

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