Germs, bugs and getting older

More Tales from the ward

Chapter Thirteen: Outbreak.

How often have you taken a long-haul flight feeling perfectly healthy when you got on the plane but by the time you got off 12 or 13 hours later have a streaming nose and blocked sinuses?

Your cold caught from the virus circulating at 38,000 feet along with the air inside your A380 or B747.

It’s impossible to keep an aircraft sterile and germ free with the movement of so many people.

But hospitals, which by their very nature are full of sick people, constantly strive to avoid such situations.
 Obviously the majority of patients are not in hospital with infectious diseases but many do have life threatening illnesses or open wounds.

Think back to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa if you want an idea of how devastating and how fast a lethal virus can spread.

So, with the rise of drug resistant bacteria and the increasing redundancy of so many first line treatments it is more important than ever to keep the wards germ free.

Every hospital visit I’ve made in the past year (including the 10 hours in St Thomas’ 😑) began with a swab of my wet orifices.

That’s my mouth nostrils and butt hole if you’re not clear.
 The nurses were testing for the presence of MRSA – methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus to give this bacteria its full name.

It is, as its name suggests, resistant to many drugs and can be fatal.
 Nurses must wear surgical gloves every time they come into contact with one of their patients.

It’s rather impersonal but avoids potentially infecting others with any bacteria or viruses they may be carrying. 
So I had to smile when I got to the physio gym yesterday.

The bed I was about to lie on was certified clean with a Declaration of decontamination status.

Glad to know how we mere patients are considered

Chapter 14: Pooh stories.

Oh what a wonderful morning. Oh, what a wonderful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling I’ll hit the bedpan ok.

Ever had that horrendous Oh shit moment, both literally and metaphorically, that you need the loo urgently to avoid the obvious.

That was exactly how I felt at 4.45am this morning when my eyes flew open.

Now while you can jump out of bed in a moment I need the use of my now favourite instrument of benevolent torture the Stand Aid.

This machine involves being first strapped in at the waist so tight around your middle you can barely breathe, then being roped and tied in close before being hauled into a standing position and transferred to a commode.

Again whilst this might take you seconds to stand up it takes me approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

And I’m doing this with my butt cheeks tightly clenched to avoid a monumental… well you get the idea.

So it continues up down up down repeated times and it is now only some 9 hours later that am I starting to feel normal.

I’m tired dehydrated any in pain and you can see how easy it is in the developing world to die from diarrhoea.

After my last use of the commode I saw the nurse writing something down.

What’s that you’re doing I asked. Noting down what you’ve pooped and its consistency.

She showed me the chart with pictures.

One being constipated (hard lumps, like nuts) to seven (watery, no solids)

Turns out there’s an online Chocolate stool chart too. One  being (Maltesers) Seven (Melted chocolate)

And a festive one too. One (Roasted chestnuts) Seven (trifle overly indulgent)

I have just two words.

Who knew.

Chapter 15: The generation game.

Today I’m lunching with the others here.

All 17 of them are easily 30 years my senior.

I may be in a rehab centre but I am definitively in an OAP home. They just about as interested in me as I am with them.

We’re fed strictly on an OAP schedule.

Tea in bed early, about 6.30am.

Lunch is late if the clock is past 12.30.

Followed by tea or coffee.

Then once the wrinklies are wheeled, pushed, or trollied back to their respective rooms there’s more hot drinks offered with cake or biscuits, before dinner served promptly at 5.30pm.

I can barely digest a meal before another is shoved in front of me.

And while I may have been enthusiastic about the menu when I came in two weeks ago, I am now seriously over the constant bland nature of what’s on offer.

A chicken biryani rarely gets any interest, I’m told. The name perhaps putting off the less adventurous diners. And having tried it I can see why.

Maybe they should have billed it on the menu as Bland Tasteless Chicken with bland unseasoned rice (better not say Basmati, for alienating the potential diners)

Sweet chilli sauce is my new BFF

The idea is to let the residents socialise but there’s no real conversation going on, more snippets of comments along the lines of: I can’t remember what I wanted for pudding, or can I have that?

And interactions are generally on the prompting of staff rather than from another resident.

What conversation did take place related to somewhere nearby. These folk had likely never had a passport nor even got to London.

How wild eyed might they be if they knew the places I’d been or things I’ve seen. Now they’ve been fed the group comes alive.

The talk of when they can get out and if they need a carer.

One lady got up and left shuffling with her walking frame.

You need someone with you said another, her voice tailing off as the woman disappeared.

A man said here was a better place than the hospital he’d been at before.

There was a man in the bay next to me threatening to blow up the hospital and kill as many as he could, the man said.

No talk of terrorism. Just another OAP.

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