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My bedfellows.

Posted 20-02-2012 at 11:07 by lettie

I have to take this opportunity to say a bit about my fellow inmates whilst I was on the ward. Of course, names will be changed to protect confidentiality, but these women made me want to laugh and cry.

When I arrived in my bay and had been slid into bed, I propped myself up into a sitting position and caught sight of the 3 smiling faces of the women I would share this bay with. The nurse introduced them as 'Connie, Linda and Nasira.'

Connie was obviously the oldest, a small but robust looking lady in her early 70s, she asked what I had had done in the way that elderly people do......
'What've they done to you love?'
'Ooooh, it is nasty is gallbladder, you take it easy love.'
Connie had obviously been in hospital for several days, judging the amount of stuff in, on and around her bed and bedside locker. The one thing that I couldn't help but notice was that 2 of her toes were gangrenous and hanging off. Her bed was opposite mine and she used to hang her foot over the end of the bed, so that was my immediate view whenever I opened my eyes.

Connie was supposed to wear a special shoe whenever she got out of bed to walk, but, during the night, she had several trips to the toilet barefoot and left an unsightly trail of blood to and from the lav, which she denied any knowledge about the morning after...

She made me smile did Connie, I would've laughed but that was the one thing that did cause a bit of pain initially. She was obviously quite institutionalised and knew the hospital routines, like the times that meals were going to come, when the drinks and tablets would come. The morning that I went home she said, 'I don't know why you've got dressed so early love, you'll be here all day waiting for your tablets to come.'
'Oh no I won't,' I insisted.
'It's only Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, I have loads of those at home, I'll just go without them, if they're not here by the time I get picked up.'

Of course, the tablets did come but only because I got Grego to chase them up while she was working

Nasira was the next oldest, probably in her 60's, an Indian lady who didn't speak much English but smiled a lot. She was in the bed next to me and would often wave and smile. Her family came to visit with some lovely smelling food and I wished I'd felt up to scrounging a bit. She had also been in hospital for a few days by the looks of things. She had had an operation but was also Diabetic and on Warfarin therapy. The staff were trying to get all of her bloods and follow-up sorted out before she could go home. Her family hoped that she would get home by the end of the week.

Linda was the youngest of the 3, she was in her late 40's, only 4 years older than me. She had been in a couple of days and had been undergoing a lot of investigations for pains and poor circulation in her legs. There's no privacy in hospital, the Surgeon came to give her some test results, drew the curtains around her bed, but we all heard what was said........
Linda had no option but to have an Aortic Bifurcation Graft to restore her circulation. If she didn't have this operation, she would eventually lose both legs..
I was upset for her, these grafts are extremely major with a higher mortality rate than simple little procedures like gallbladders. She would have to spend a few days in Intensive Care, if she survived. They were planning to take her to theatre the following morning.
Linda wasn't the healthiest specimen to start with. She looked significantly older than her years, with hardly any teeth and sallow looking skin. Years of heavy smoking had aged her and put her in this life threatening situation at such a young age. I think it was at this moment that I thanked my lucky stars that I had quit.

Whenever I woke up in the night, I could hear Linda sobbing. I tried to reassure her that things would be ok, she would be well looked after in Intensive Care, it would be just for a short while, but I was in no position to offer comfort, as there is no comfort to be had when looking your mortality in the face.

I know that as human beings we can sometimes be really hard and say things like 'she brought it on herself,' 'it's her own fault,' etc. and it is true - but, to see someone so devastated, you can't help but feel sorry for them, well, I can't.

The morning that I was leaving, Nasira gave me a cheery wave and a smile. Connie said 'get well soon love, don't be overdoing it.' and I wished Linda luck as she waited in her theatre gown to face her fate and do you know what?.........
I sincerely meant it.
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  1. Old Comment
    Margaret Pilkington's Avatar
    Lettie, you tell it well...more please.
    Posted 20-02-2012 at 11:22 by Margaret Pilkington Margaret Pilkington is online now

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