Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to http://www.catminders.biz

Welcome to CatMinders

Welcome to CatMinders

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Has it come to this ?

Earlier this week one of my colleagues was admitted to hospital unexpectedly and as a fabulous arrangement of blooms had been delivered to the office for her I called at the hospital on a mission to find her on Tuesday evening .

I had been given two ward numbers and knew she was on a cardiology unit so armed with this information set off after calling at home to eat and attempt to restore myself a little after a long and emotive day , calling at the bookstore en route for a couple of magazines by way of an offering .

Finally , the first hurdle on this freezing night , temperatures at minus three degrees , the parking barrier machine sign said " season ticket cards ony " . I sighed to myself and pressed the Call Help buzzer and asked the Voice " Does this message about season tickets mean I have to reverse out again into the main road here ? " and a very helpful voice said back No madam , you will see that the barrier is up . The message means that our parking machines are broken . Therefore we can't charge you so its our way of telling you that parking is free tonight " " Oh " I squeaked , in glee , Thank you and drove on . From then on it was downhill most of the way .

I lugged the flowers in their fabulous box with the turned back cardboard corners which looked so good and probably held a week's supply of water and were doubtless designed to show off this fragrant bouquet to best advantage .

But not designed for carrying by frozen fingers also struggling with bag of magazines , cards , and Per Una handbag ( heavy ) in icy winds . Down the long corridors I tottered , stopping occasionally to rebalance myself , eventually arriving outside one of the possible wards which had been suggested .
The note on the door, hand written , looked ominous . Do not enter without permission . Gastro- intestinal infection . I pressed the buzzer . Waited . Nothing . Pressed again . Waited . Nil . After ten minutes a couple arrived at the door from inside . I decided to chance my arm as clearly no one was appearing to admit me . " Do you think you could let me in ? " I ask " I can't seem to raise any staff ! "
" Staff ! " said the man smiling and letting me through . " You should be so lucky ! Reception desk down at the bottom but you 're not likely to see anyone . Good luck ! "

I walk slowly down the ward trying not to glance into side rooms as I go . I can see flashes of flesh as I pass by and it disturbs me .

The patients all look very ill and no sign of my colleague . Nor of a staff member come to that . I wait at reception . There is no bell so I stand , shifting from one foot to another . The flowers are weighing heavy .
From here I am clearly visible to several patients in bed and seated in chairs by their beds .
At least three of them are moaning loudly , sounding in extreme distress though it is hard to discern whether this is physical or mental .
I try hard not to look at them , not wanting to engage with what seems like very private pain .

Also , and I admit it , I have been engaging with pain all day , in my Day Job and it would be all too easy to become sucked into this world too .

One of the voices rises above the others , impossible to ignore . " For pity's sake leave me alone and stop taking my clothes off . Ive asked you to stop and I'm imloring you now to leave me alone .... "

I turn round thinking I have to intervene and see that the lady who is speaking is indeed quite alone . No one is near her , and she is addressing no one in particular . She does not even appear to be particularly distressed , though her voice would suggest different .

Her next door neighbour senses my consternation and beckons me closer to ask who I am looking for . I ask if she knows where the staff are and she chuckles in amusement . "No pet , now that I can't help you with ! We don't see many nurses here , they are so terribly busy . "
Meanwhile a man writhing in a side room comes dangerously close to the edge of his bed . I turn away , knowing it is not appropriate for me to engage with his semi nakedness and afraid of what will happen next .....

Where am I ? I feel I am in some former life , some place I have not contemplated before except in textbooks about Bedlam and institutions which are long gone . I want to run yet I need to find P ..... I dread to think how she will be coping here .....

And there suddenly walking brightly and briskly along the corridors are two nurses , smiling and helpful . I want to faint with relief .
I want to shout at them about all their neglected patients ( why are you smiling and laughing whilst there are people here who need help ? ) yet I know from their attitute to me which is helpful and solicitous ( my friend is not on their ward and they go out of their way to ring other wards until she is located on another High Tech unit, and to make sure I know how to find my way there , which is not straightforward), that they are clearly overworked and just doing their level best .

I set off on the next leg of my journey , stoping to compose myself again on the way .

And , after all that , flowers , would you believe , are not allowed on the coronary care unit ! And maybe not anywhere in hospitals now , due to risk of infection , I don't know ?

But for all the alien High Tech atmosphere of a high dependency unit with its machines monitors and drips , at least when I got there , there were Human Beings in evidence to back up the machines .
Give me that any day over the seething mass of patients apparently left to fend for themselves when they so patently cannot . It was scary .

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