So my escape from hospital was brief by any depressing standard. Out Saturday evening in time for a delicious Thai takeaway, shared with my equally delicious wife. All the ‘deliciousier’ after five nights of beyond bland (‘they try their best’) hospital food. A lovely lazy Sunday with the family. Blue-lighted back in on Monday evening with another raging temperature, paralyzing cramp, and a brand new sensation to take in, a bladder in spasm! Indescribable but most definitely bizarre and thoroughly horrible.
Usual routine of an overlong stay in A&E and a confused couple of nights in an Assessment Ward. Then out into exactly the same ward as last week, and happily, a new selection of three different chaps to share the endless, relentless and often degrading routine of 24/7 hospital life.
I say ‘happily’, because alongside two pretty much unconscious patients last week, I was plonked opposite a truly odious man. He was the spitting image of politician and loudmouth George Galloway, complete with scowl and arrogant air of superiority. A bit skinnier and possibly older… I remember his real name, but I’ll call him George. George’s main sin was to be abusive to pretty much every member of staff. From cleaners to doctors, nurses to caterers, he always found a reason to take umbrage at their reasonable requests and routine questions. He shouted back, sneered back, complained to anyone in or out of hearing range, and generally tried his damnedest to make everyone’s life more miserable than his. The National Health Service is far from perfect, but it is full of overworked, underpaid staff, nearly all of them straining and multi-tasking as best they can to make life comfortable for patients. And in return they receive too little thanks, far too many snipes, and an astonishing level of verbal and physical abuse. ‘George’ was far from being the worst offender, but he was definitely the blackest cloud in shouting distance of my bed. And he was forever in my line of sight.
Having thoroughly grated my chattering teeth with his attitude, George further managed to wind me up with his insatiable hunger. Overnight, from 10pm and every couple of hours, he would emerge from deep sleep to shout out for breakfast and some biscuits. I would lie there suddenly awake and seething… When breakfast finally arrived he would order five Weetabix, a bowl of porridge, and two pieces of toast. Then demand more porridge. The rest of the day was spent in similar style, pursuing the next meal, and nagging for biscuits in between. 24 hours of non-stop evil foraging. I hated him, and that’s a phrase and a sentiment I try to avoid.
Just as I was due to be discharged – for the first time at least – I discovered George was in hospital with a brain tumour. When sufficiently healthy, he was due to leave his own house forever and move into a nursing home. I don’t know his prognosis, but I know he had a right to be miserable. And I know a brain tumour could have subtly or unsubtly changed his character.
I’m regularly reminding people that Multiple Sclerosis is often an invisible disease. Yet here was I having very very bad thoughts about poor old George with a brain tumour. I’ve learned my lesson I hope, and can only electronically wish George well. Must not judge, must not judge…