The Circus

The Circus

PP 159-160 3/2/2011

21st C

You never think it will happen to you but today it did. A 999 call and the ambulance outrider was outside the door while my friend and neighbour was still speaking to the operator.

Within minutes I was strapped into a chair, carried downstairs, trundled over the icy pavement to the waiting ambulance, blue lights flashing, lighting up The Circus. How many neighours were watching? Not many I guess, at 6.30 am on a freezing winter morning.

All tests are over now, but an overnight stay in a medical assessment ward is mandatory. In this area of the hospital there is no access to radio or television, no flowers allowed, but patients are permitted to use mobile phones. A few books would be welcome, but I must make do with a magazine from the hospital shop.

There is a screamer in the bed next to mine, a mature Italian woman who fights the staff and screams blue murder whenever a nurse or doctor tries to administer to her. She sounds like a wounded animal in pain, deeply disconcerting to all within earshot.

I wish doctors would return to wearing white coats. They walk the wards in street clothes and consequently bring street germs in with them. Young female doctors are often fashionably dressed, many of them wearing shoulder bags stuffed with pens and notebooks as well as makeup and mobile phones, stethoscopes looped around the neck as a necessary accessory. One, long dark hair flying over her shoulders, wears a course knitted woollen coat, so hairy I swear you can see infectious bugs clinging to the fibres just waiting to fall on to patient's bedcovers.

BUT the care and attention of all staff inv0lved was invariably kind and concerned. I left feeling deeply grateful to the NHS.