Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A room of one’s own

Slowly the reality of my current predicament is beginning to sink in. I shall be confined to bed without moving from it for a period of six weeks… or longer if needs be. Now let’s stop to think about that for a moment. What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed in one spot without moving?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for sympathy; I’m more than happy to do this if it means my poor old femur is going to knit back together and enable me to walk again. In fact, I’ll stick it out for longer if that’s what it takes. However, I’m not sure that will be possible if the evil bed manager gets his way and decides to move me to a ward.

So far this year I’ve spent about 14 weeks as a guest of the NHS. Most of that time has been spent on wards rather than in a single room. I’m extremely grateful for some excellent medical treatment but there’s one thing I need now more than anything else… privacy.

For starters, and not to put to fine a point on it, when in traction one must take care of one’s personal comfort and hygiene needs. I have absolutely no wish to take these tasks to the level of a spectator sport, especially when other patients are having visits from their loved ones.

And visitors are another bone of contention. The visiting hours here are generous; patients can have their friends and families gassing away at their bedsides throughout the day. As most of my friends and family live a good 8o miles away, the chances of aunty Flo popping in to see me en route to her belly dancing class are pretty slim. Instead I must enjoy other patients’ visitors by proxy. It’s fun ear wigging for the first couple of times but it does become tedious after a while.

Then there’s the television. I’m not a snob (often) but so far this year I’ve had to sit through more episodes of Corrie, EastEnders and Britain’s Got Talent than I care to admit. As far as I’m concerned this comes close to a breach of the Human Rights Act under the heading Freedom from Torture.

Sharing a ward also entails having to answer your fellow patients’ questions about how you ended up being trussed up like a chicken with your leg in the air. Since most patients rarely stay more than a few days, this could entail me being forced to repeat my entire medical history hundreds of times, unless of course I produce a small leaflet or handout to give to all new arrivals on the ward.

Finally, I’m an insomniac. How on earth can I fire up a computer or read a book at 3am when I’m sharing a room with five hairy-nosed old men who are happily sawing logs off in the adjacent beds?

For these reasons (and many more) I’m desperately clinging on to my side room. Every knock on the door causes my heart skip a beat as I imagine the bed manager’s eviction notice being handed down as both my belongings and I are shunted off into a public ward.

Does anyone know how to fake MRSA?


  1. Mark, I imagine you'll be evicted as soon as they find out you're writing this . . . .

  2. Thought your blog might want some company.
    Have a bunch of American doctors arguing EMR and Healthcare.

    Good luck with the Leg (and cDif & MRSA symptoms)

  3. The door creaks. A finger, then a hand slowly appears round the edge. The Man In The Hospital Bed quakes. Is this how it's going to end? Is this how they will take him away to the multibed, mixed sex, ward? Is this how the brief period of sanity ends? In the dead of might when no one can hear you scream?

    The Man In The Hospital Bed reaches for the emergency alarm then falls back. Why press the bell? The nurses already know that SHE has arived.

    The figure quickly slips into the room. The door is closed quietly behind the invader: the woman in the twin set and clipboard is here. Surely the Other Woman - feared by all patients is lurking outside. The One who has the power to remove the Man In The Hospital Bed.

    The figure quietly moves across the single room. The Man In The Hospital Bed marshalls his final arguments. The figure looms over the bed. But it is not the Lesser Spotted Manager. Nor is it the feared Bed Manager.

    Who is this overweight, ugly man who will only come in the depths of night? He approaches the bed:

    "I have a message."

    "Who are you? Who sent you? Why are you here?"

    "I move through the Earth under the name Alan B. I am a friend. The Englishman sent me ... He and his friends wish you well."

  4. An excellent read and a spooky comment from Alan. Where do you find these folks? Looking forward to your next tangle with the Bed Manager, Nurse and characters we're yet to meet!
    English Guy(another)

  5. English Guy said:

    " ... and a spooky comment from Alan. Where do you find these folks?"

    We find you, English Guy, we find you.

    (Maniacal laughter fades into the distance ...)

    Alan B

  6. They have a 'Bed Manager' ???? Another waste of NHS money !! Padlock the bed to a radiator or something !!

  7. MRSA- the best way to get it is to ask for more sponge baths- seriously!!!!! Spent two weeks in icu before going to public ward and i got it on the top of my leg (being delicate you know the region) but only on the skin on the outside so it wasn't dangerous to me. Anyway i got it from either the doctor who did my cesearian or from one of the nurses.

    Apparently most Dr's and nurses carry it around in their nasal cavities and on their fingers do if one breathes over you whilst doing your sponge bath you're set (so long as it's on the outside of the groin where it can't do any harm). I don't know about UK, but over here then all the nurses come in the room in pretty white coveralls and have a trolly and they have to keep you super clean!

  8. Sorry to be crude but a bout of diarrhoea is your best bet to stay in a single room. Then again that depends on your NHS trust's vigilance when it comes to infection control...

    Or as the above poster says perhaps just stick your finger in your doctor's nose :)

  9. and we thought the NHS in australia wasted money ... seems its a given in commonwealth countries ... luckily i've always found my hospital food great ... but that comes down to the sad fact that anything tastes great if someone else cooks it..

  10. About time that all hospitals had single rooms with ensuite loo (for those who can get out of bed - apologies). I spent weeks in hospital in a side room (thank heavens) as I think they thought my illness was contagious (it wasn't) and at least I could listen to the radio and read, and have a decent low light level (HATE those overhead lights - ok when needed) and, most important, PRIVACY! Also not having to listen to other people's vistors boring on and indeed patients giving you a blow-by-blow account of their operations. I'm not good with too much medical detail

  11. I used to be a bed manager. A thankless task. So now I am back to nursing.... running a ward. Where do you suppose the nurses and doctors catch the MRSA that they carry up their noses?