diamond geezer

 Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The door to A&E opens automatically. It's changed beyond all recognition since the last time I was here, which is not surprising because this is a completely different building. The last place was a Victorian warren, whereas this is a shiny white tower.

I follow the signs to reception, where a headscarfed girl waits patiently behind shatterproof glass. She tells me the patient's only just arrived so would I mind waiting, so I wait. The seats are uncomfortably metallic, and bolted to the floor lest anyone try to hurl one across the room. An older lady sits beside me, new to using crutches and not yet adept. She comments on how good the coffee machine smells, but we both agree that no liquid which dribbled out of its nozzle would be drinkable.

In the corner of the room is a podium for a security guard. The architects appear to have built him an alcove where he can hide away and not quite see anything, which is ideal because there is absolutely nothing to see. He smiles weakly and paces up and down occasionally, because this is midweek teatime not weekend midnight. Behind him is a large free-standing poster warning of the 'current influenza outbreak', and asking all visitors to please stay at home rather than putting patients' lives at risk. Visitors ignore it, and each other, and continue to sit in withdrawn silence.

I ask again at reception, and am told that I can now pass through into A&E proper. I'm expecting rows of moaning invalids on trolleys, but instead meet a grey corridor bustling with nursing staff. Numerous cubicles are curtained off to either side, but never curtained off quite well enough to conceal all the goings on within. A hairy leg here, an exposed stomach there, and eye contact with a woman who'd rather I hadn't seen her modesty compromised. Further into the labyrinth I go, rather further than expected, and through the double doors at the end.

It's my second visit to Resus, but this time it's not me on the table. Millions of pounds of expensive equipment is stacked all around, complete with wires and pipes and cables, but thankfully is nothing being used for its life-preserving function. In the absence of Friday night debris or any sudden cardiac arrest, the resuscitation area is currently a mere extension of the cubicle campsite along the corridor. The tales these tables could tell would fill an entire series of Casualty, but none of the present clientèle would make it past the cutting room floor.

My must-visit patient is waiting patiently at the end, an extra tube in his arm compared to last time I saw him. He's been given the children's booth, the one with smiley Disney characters stuck to the wall and a variety of Fisher Price toys to play with. Yes, everything's fine, or it would be if only they'd hurry up and let him out. A steady drip of medical personnel stop by, one with a ham salad sandwich, another with a clipboard to jot down readings from the monitor. One reading suggests that the patient is dead, but closer inspection confirms that a lead is merely unplugged.

For long periods of time, nothing much happens. That's in our booth, whereas nextdoor a woman is very much in pain and I feel somewhat uncomfortable to be here. I walked in off the street not half an hour ago, unchallenged, and here I am standing in the heart of a busy hospital overhearing agonies anyone would rather keep private. Indeed nobody's even asked me to clean my hands, neither were the squirty alcohol dispensers sufficiently conspicuous along the long corridor for me to have noticed them. I have drifted into somebody else's workspace - an interloper, a fly on the wall, out of place.

Just when we fear we've been forgotten a doctor turns up and asks questions, so many questions. He's concerned, he's probing, he's interested, but thankfully he's relaxed. And soon, he says, please wait a little while longer, which extends into half an hour and then some. There are more readings to take - some sticky, some probing - as the best part of the evening ticks gently away. The lady nextdoor moans louder, and the nurses nip in with an extra screen lest I catch sight of why.

The staff are all brilliant, not least the way every nurse seems to know precisely what's going on despite not having been involved in any of the previous procedures. They smile, they cajole, and they nudge appropriate behaviour even when the patient would rather do quite the opposite. And finally they announce discharge, you're free to go, look after yourself. We thank them profusely and head for the exit, and they get their bed back for the next unwitting soul from the back of an ambulance.

I wash my hands on the way out. It seems better late than never.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream