Spending weeks in hospital waiting for an op gives plenty of time for useless musing.
So in no particular order …
Consultants are the same the world over. No more to be said there.
Similarly porters and cleaners. Pretty much at the bottom of the pile yet always smiling and cheerful. Interestingly while the UK was contracting out cleaning years ago, the Gib staff are in-house. And the hospital was clean. My room was cleaned at least twice a day as was our private bathroom.
Cleaning staff would laugh, chat and sing as they worked through the day.
Beds were regularly made by auxiliaries (or whatever they are called) and frequently changed. As I made a pig’s ear of my bed, I usually told them not to bother making it. Plus it meant I had to get out of bed. I’d got an elevator on the bed for my leg, so that tended to add to the rucking up of sheets.
They brought towels and cloths for our showers on a hit and miss basis so when I wanted a new one I learned to ask for one.
And they provided the meals, the tea and coffee service, and often answered the call bell too.
The nurses were the interesting ones. There was a diverse mix of English, Spanish and Gibbo. One of my nurses – who spoke excellent English – came from a town near my pueblo in Spain, so we would often chat about places in La Axarquia and the famous restaurant in my village.
At one point, he told me I was a good patient. How embarrassing. Me? Good? It seemed I did as I was told and didn’t cause any trouble. Of course not. If I didn’t want to take the silly paracetamol to lower my temperature it was easier to accept them and not take them rather than kick up a fuss. One pesky nurse stood over me insisting I eat them in front of him, but luckily I didn’t see him again.
There were quite a lot of male nurses which is A Good Thing in terms of getting rid of stereotypes. The only female medic I saw was an anaesthetist so it seemed the gender barriers were only falling one way. And it wasn’t in favour of women.
The nurses worked twelve hour shifts from 8-8. They spent most of their time dishing out pills and taking blood pressure, temp, pulse etc. The temp gadget fascinated me. It was a little thing they whacked in your ear. Whatever happened to ‘never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear’?
They would also clear away meal trays, bring pillows and blankets, respond to the call button, and help people to the toilet. They were patient and helpful. If you asked a question they took time to explain.
We’ve known a few British nurses who started work at St Bernard’s but things have changed now. Back then, after a year or so, they would get a perm contract. Now British staff are employed on renewable annual contracts for up to four years. The accom deal isn’t as good either. It used to be free accom for an initial period followed by subsidised rental, up to half as I recall. Now it’s a blanket £300 allowance. Still, better than nothing. Interestingly Spanish nurses have different (less favourable) contracts stopping short of a full year.
The ward sister was British and typically so, as was one of the important staff nurses. The younger Brit ones were less precious and didn’t exude the false saccharine so beloved of older British nurses.
My neighbour in the next bed needed helping to the toilet. I listened to one exchange.
“Just pop your bottom back a bit further.” (onto the chair as she was sitting back down)
“Oh, that’s good. Ve-ry good. Well done.”
God preserve me from hospitals and nurses treating me like an idiot in my old age.
I did bristle a couple of times at:
“How are we today Mrs Roughseas?”
Nowhere on the paperwork does it say Mrs. I corrected them some of the time and ignored them the rest.
But what a stupid question. I’m fine. I really like being stuck in bed for two weeks with a broken ankle waiting for a nasty operation. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. I certainly wouldn’t want to be at home, with my boys, walking around in fresh air and eating decent food.
And that brings me to the paracetamol issue.
On my notes the doctor in minor injuries had written that I could have paracetamol every four hours as a painkiller.
I have a problem with the definition of pain. I don’t consider a mild throbbing or a few twinges to be pain. I have no painkillers in my house. If I get a headache I wait for it to go away. If I fall over, I normally get the injured limb into a comfortable position and wait for any pain to subside.
Pain to me is serious excruciating agony. Pretty much like when I fell over and couldn’t stand on my left foot. Anything else is to be tolerated until it eases.
Given that I had coped with the setting of my foot in plaster without screaming my head off, I couldn’t understand why I was being offered the chance to pop paracetamol at every opportunity.
Some of the more crazy exchanges I had went like this:
“Do you have any pain?”
“So it’s not too bad then?”
What was unclear about ‘no’? ie NO pain.
“Do you have any pain?”
“Do you want some paracetamol?”
I began to think they were all on commission for paracetamol manufacturers but seriously, why is ‘no’ so difficult to understand?
I accepted some at one point wearing my good patient hat, saying I might need them during the night. Truth is I could have called someone and they would have dished some out anyway, but still it brought a smile to a paracetamol happy nurse’s face. The next morning another nurse spirited them away saying we weren’t allowed to hang onto them in case we built up secret supplies. Just think. I could have built a cache of nearly 50 paracetamol tablets pre op.
When I was first admitted I hesitatingly asked for vegetarian food and cringed at the thought of endless cheese omelettes.
‘I don’t suppose you do vegan food?’ I figured asking for veg was difficult enough.
‘Oh we had a vegan patient last week’.
That was it. I asked for vegan and wondered what I would get.
It started off quite well. My first lunch had a decent salad and TWO pieces of fruit (never to be repeated, only one after that) plus the obligatory soup and some type of main course. Evening meal was the same, except the soup was a different colour and the carb main course changed.
There was a nasty cock-up at one point where I got a bean omelette and yoghurt for lunch. I picked the beans out of the omelette. Trouble was the accompanying salad was … cold beans. I ate the chips. No vinegar. Only tomato ketchup. Another leaning towards Spanish cuisine rather than British. Who can eat chips without vinegar? Partner dutifully called at Morrisons and bought me a bottle of white wine vinegar.
After a week the salads dropped off and only appeared in the evening. An omelette appeared again. I didn’t even bother picking out the beans. I left it. Samosas appeared. They were very good. The kitchen was good at rice and chips, not so good at pasta. They produced couscous towards the end of my stay. I have no idea if they cooked it well as I loathe couscous.
Fruit didn’t always appear for dessert. Again in the second week, we started to get jelly. Jelly? There were no ingredients listed. Gelatine or pectin I wondered aimlessly. And left it anyway. I see no reason for hospitals to provide desserts. What’s wrong with fruit?
And why was there never any bread? Not for lunch or tea. Strange.
I asked about soya milk for breakfast. ‘You’ll have to get your family to bring that in.’
So how was I meant to have cereal? What happened if they had someone who was lactose intolerant? I mean FFS they only had to walk over to Morrisons,literally across the road, to buy a carton of soya milk. Was it really impossible?
But let’s end with television.
When I finally turned it on I was surprised how bad it was. There were loads of channels although they didn’t all work. The main contenders were there:
GibTV (doesn’t start until 7.30 pm or something)
Spain’s Telecinco, Antenna 3, Canal Sur, and a couple of others
Then there were all the rest, Gold, Discovery, Yesterday, Sky News, TCM, Movies 24, Star movies, True this that and the other.
Some of the receptions were dodgy too eg, Gold. First thing I found on there was Only Fools and Horses so that got skipped over pretty rapidly.
I found a documentary about monkeys that pointed out male monkeys at the bottom of the pecking order do what the alpha male says. Also, monkeys are intelligent. Dear me. Is this the level of information now given out on documentaries? Lots of pretty pix but nothing in terms of serious education.
Quiz progs, quiz progs, and more quiz progs. Reruns of Britain’s Not Got Talent. Amazing Greys where a team of oldies takes on a young person.
I pleased myself by beating both the ancient antique expert and the young contender.
Which three of these were the most valuable:
Dickens’ desk, George IV chariot, bullwhip used in Indiana Jones film(?!?), Lexus gold-plated camera, David Beckham’s Porsche, a special Barbie doll, Gandhi’s glasses, JFK’s flying jacket, and one other.
I got the top three. Answers at the bottom.
When TV isn’t showing quiz games or untalented progs, we’re bombarded with antique shows and house progs. Too too boring. I tried drama – Prey and Vera. At least Vera had pretty scenery from Northumberland and a Land Rover. That’s all you could say for it.
Whatever happened to drama like The Monocled Mutineer or The Singing Detective?
I tried the film channels. The Great Escape was on TCM on both Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the available films seemed to be about mutant Stepford wives wandering around their palatial mansions with bouffant hairstyles, HUGE earrings, designer suits, six inch heels, and faces plastered in cement. There’s more reality in a sci-fi film. Or maybe people in America really do live like that.
One film was so bad I had to watch it out. I think it was based on a true story. A mother was so obsessed with her daughter becoming a cheerleader that she tried to take out a contract on her daughter’s friend – who was the main opposition – and her mother. She got 15 years for it, but was apparently allowed to go free on some loophole that revolved around the fifteen years. But what does that say about society? Trying to kill two people so your daughter gets to be cheerleader? JFC. Which incidentally, reminds me said murderous mother went to church. Natch. I rest my case.
British films were few and far between but I did catch The Secret Life of Ian Fleming starring the handsome Jason Connery. That was good, even if it wasn’t wholly accurate. Starting Over with Rutger Hauer was a bit soppy but the Scottish scenery and the Land Rover were nice. A Touch of Class with Glenda Jackson and George Segal was just unsuccessful despite Glenda’s Oscar for her role.
Even the news is of dubious quality. Why does everyone have to be so jolly and smiley and in your face? And have so little to say in far too many words? What happened to restraint, decorum, politeness? I don’t want people on TV to treat me as though we are best friends.
I spoke to Partner one night on the hospital ‘phone that comes with each bed (incoming calls only but still useful). ‘I think we should get a TV’ he said. ‘I think not,’ I replied.
Amazing Greys quiz answer: Dickens’ desk, Lexus camera, JFK jacket.