Sunday, 13 September 2009

Easy like Sunday morning

By rights, Sunday ought to be a day of rest; a chance to linger in bed and forget the stresses and strains of the working week. A chance to enjoy a late and luxurious breakfast while perusing the newspapers and savouring proper coffee instead of the instant muck that most of us put up with during the rest of the week.

I’d like to tell you that the same sort of routine takes place in the hospital on the seventh day but I’d be telling you a fib the size of Gordon Brown’s budget deficit. The truth is, Sunday reveille comes in the form of a stainless steel trolley crashing through my room door at 6am on the dot and the sound of a nurse saying “knock, knock” in the absence of any kind of doorknocker or entry bell. I guess the prison equivalent is the jangling of keys turning in the lock of a cell door.

Unfortunately, most nights I only manage to drift off into a light sleep at around 4am so the sight of a nurse wheeling in a blood pressure monitor just two hours later is about as welcome as a sausage roll at a bar mitzvah. Then it’s eight pills down the hatch followed by a nice dose of Lactulose in order to keep the digestive system moving. The whole experience feels like a violation.

Still, being a Sunday you might expect the hospital to arrange a little culinary treat for breakfast: a croissant perhaps, or maybe a lightly boiled egg with some toast soldiers. Nope! It’s the same old Weetabix and carpet tile toast, accompanied with sunflower spread and Chinese marmalade.

Unfortunately the torture doesn’t stop there. With breakfast finished barely ten minutes pass before the customary bowl of water and a J-Cloth get tossed through the door with instructions to get yourself washed and ready for a bed change in 15 minutes.

A bed change involves something similar to the party trick where a magician manages to whip a tablecloth off of a fully laden table without upsetting any of the crockery, glassware or cutlery. It’s a sight to behold and very impressive. The last task is the brushing of one’s teeth and then that’s everything done… it’s still only 7.15am but the worst is over.

I try to go back to sleep but by this time the other patient’s alarms are ringing to tell the nurses that they’re ready for the next stage of the waking up process. This continues for another half hour or so until, exhausted and no longer able to keep my eyes open, my head falls back on the pillow. I thank God that at last an oasis of calm has descended and I can enjoy what is left of my Sunday morning.

I’m just beginning to drift off into a dream where a waiter has taken my order for a Tournedos Rossini and recommended a rather fine bottle Chateau Lafite ’82 when the door opens.

“Is ok if I clean room now?” the cleaner asks.

How do you say ‘piss off’ in Polish?


  1. How do you say ‘piss off’ in Polish?

    You could try "wypierdalaj"!!

    (vy pierre dah lie)

  2. Normal hospital food is ok for a few days, but if you are in for over a month you should get an 'a la carte menu' - suggest the idea to the powers that be !!

  3. Instead of trying to master the "wypierdalaj" mentioned above, do try "won" [von] or "won suko" [von sookoh]. It translates to something along the lines of "beat it, bitch" (or simply "beat it").

    I've read about your misadventures in Daily Mail. UK's hospitals don't sound too good, but let me tell you - it's the same in Poland. From which I am sending greetings. Get well soon, and I mean soon. Although your blog is a blast.

  4. When the polish cleaner tells you where to get off, follow it up with Kur-va maa-tch (basically F U).
    Amazing... four years of being a Polski missus and all I know are the swear words, well that and 'be quiet' ;-)


  5. Now there's a novelty - a cleaner in a hospital. On Sunday as well!

  6. Haha, as an australian nurse who works alot of sundays, ive got to say the hospital your in does things very early indeed! My experience being that we don't even get a chance to come around to at least 8! But i do lament your plight! Just remember those nurses didn't get a chance to sleep in either!

  7. We have very nice crossaints in Lao PDR, I could send you a photo to show the hospital - so they would be able to visualise your Sunday suggestion
    Great blog, keep it coming

  8. I've spent more time in hospital than your 'average' person and in my experience the halal menu is always a lot nicer.

    It's usually curry though so if you dont like curry you wont like it.

    I also working in a hospital for 3 years as a performance manager so i had to try and measure and report on the performance of EVERY aspect of the hospital care.. nursing, catering, portering, cleaning, laundry etc etc and in that time I came across some shocking things and shocking attitudes so nothing really surprises me anymore.

    hope you get well soon

  9. I notice you're asking for donations, albeit in a very discreet way at the top of your blog. What are you spending the money on, and is anyone actually donating?

  10. I just put it there to cover bandwidth charges on my mobile dongle. I suppose I could spend any extra on KitKats :-)

  11. So you got toast at breakfast, you lucky, lucky bas_ard! I was in St Peter's, Chertsey last year and asked the head nurse why we never had toast at breakfast. "Elf and Safety", she said, "managment says it's a fire risk"

  12. Toasters have been banned from the hospital where I work because, yes they are a fire risk. It was worth putting some mouldy bread in the toaster just to get those hunky firemen out lol

  13. Just come out of Worthing General. What twisted imagination gives you bread and butter and cornflakes for breakfast? Then at lunch give you a (reasonable) home-made soup but no bread.

    As for the buzzers. Have you EVER got attention from a nurse by pressing the button? If you did that's a real achievement.

    And who is going to pay a fiver a day to watch free-to-view TV in a tiny low res window on the highly expensive entertainment centre thingie above each bed?

    We all lay in silence plugged into earphones. If they had one tiny, cheap 15" telly we could at least have argued over what we were going to watch. Which would have been a moot point because the nurses would never come to change the channel.

  14. I could go for a sausage roll right now! Someone send this man some bloody sausage and eggs! What's your room number? We'll have them delivered!

  15. Spierdalaj (s-pyer-duh-lie)

    Hope you get better mate, and when you get better and vist oz, give me a yell. I'll tell you a few hospital stories :)