Celtic Illumination, part 404, Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Hello all. Sorry that yesterday didn’t really happen, but it was just one of those days. Usually, especially these days, I find myself taking a wee forty wink nap, on the big seaty thing in the next room, normally during the afternoon, whereas yesterday I was there for about six hours’ worth of forty winks, which was more like a very long game of hide and seek. Don’t worry, I won. And there was so much to talk about yesterday, no point now as it’s only the same as today’s fish and chip wrapper, whatever the electronic equivalent of that is. Despite the fact that there were reports which stated the NHS provided the best health care in the world there were the little niggling stories about doctors receptionists refusing to call for ambulances when people were having heart attacks in front of them. But doctor’s receptionists are not medics, harridans, hags, bullies even, but not medics.
I would then use that point to leap in to the statement that I wouldn’t have a bad word said about any of the NHS staff I met, or received care from, in the hospital. It was the best care possible delivered in a friendly and professional manner. I might have one or two slight grumbles, most of which are being dealt with by my legal team at the moment, but nothing sensational. I had hoped that my third ward move would be my last, but I was wrong. I didn’t mind my next move, as two of the fellows sleeping in my ward could have been dead, but I didn’t want to say anything. I was taken to another six bed ward where this time I was settled in to a corner spot. I was surrounded by sick people and medics.
This would appear to be the room where I was to be treated as they descended on me again and took even more blood. Myself and the staff reached an unwritten sort of schedule, or routine, when it came to taking blood from my arms. Three nurses would each try twice to find a vein and then they would give up, now, their rules stated that a doctor would have to take the blood. The first doctor was a young female trainee doctor or junior doctor. She was very careful, very gentle and managed to extract three vials of blood with no commotion or bruising. There was a very simple and straightforward solution which I didn’t know if I should point out to the staff but every morning at half past nine a phlebotomist would pitch up and take blood from me. Again, no fuss, no pain, no bruising, why couldn’t they be employed to take it during the rest of the day?
My arms were black and blue and I mean black and blue. First thing people would say when they say me was, “You look awful!” but then their eyes would fall to my arms and all sorts of expletives would be expressed. It was the second doctor who took blood from me that caused the problem. I had dragged myself back from the toilet and was sat sitting on the edge of my bed when he came up to me. I could tell from the equipment he was holding that he was there to take blood. I asked if he wanted me to lie down on the bed but he poo pooed the idea and began to tap the back of my right hand. I watched the needle slip in through my skin and, like the doctor, was surprised when water seemed to ooze out around it. He then began to raise and lower the needle, but following a fan shape, looking for a vein. Eventually he found a vein and managed to take the blood. I was glad that he had managed to get some, so that my transfusions could continue, but in the hours that followed I wondered about his oath of Primum non nocere, first do no harm. All I could do was watch as my right arm began to swell up, which I can assure you was far more interesting that anything they were showing on their television screens.
It was explained to me that most of the blood tests were like dipping the oil on your car, making sure that there was still some in there and seeing if my own systems were beginning to build my reserves back up. Then the tests began to see if I was compatible with the blood they had brought up from the laboratory. I was then hooked up to bags of blood which was fed in to my body. One nurse explained that they had to be extremely careful with the blood as it had a four hour life. That from leaving the laboratory the blood had to be transfused within a four hour period, which included travel time. She explained that although the blood had been donated free, the processes it had gone through to clean it up were very costly so that had to be taken in to consideration as well. On top of this you had all the monitoring and checking and double checking, which I felt was them politely explaining, because of the exact systems they had to follow, that I now wasn’t exactly anaemic to them but perhaps more of a pain in the arse.
I wasn’t sure if I would move ward again but settled in to ward life by listening to the other men there. I found it very interesting watching and listening how different people tried to establish themselves within the group. Of the six men on the ward four of us would actively participate in conversation. Well; for them it was conversation whereas for me it was social research, or as we used to call it in the forces, ‘Taking the piss.’ The guy in the bed next to me kept telling all who would listen that he was great friends with the chief executive of the hospital. I think he thought that this made him something special, that the doctors attending him should only wear bow ties and he would receive special treatment. I never once saw the chief executive come to visit him on the ward and wondered if I told him that I was friends with a porter, who regularly came to see me and ask If I needed anything, that he would understand his pretend little world of ‘I am better than you,’ was quite hollow and empty.
In a way his typical English attitude of, ‘I am better than you,’ encouraged me to act myself, which was pure Irish working class scum, despite the fact that I am King. But as everyone shall be equal in the new Ireland then I can be either one or the other, or both. It started with the two pretty Indian doctors and it was day two of the blood transfusions. In they came, drawing the curtains, and you knew that everyone else on the ward was listening to their prognosis or your problems. “Have you been bleeding?” asked one of the doctors, I’m not sure which one. “No,” I said. “But your blood count is not going up?” Here they started getting all technical talking about haemoglobin and stuff like that, although why they would start talking about the film the Lord of The Rings is beyond me.
I could see that the process they used was very similar to the thought process I used myself, which was to shout at things or at least run though my options out loud. “Doctor,” I asked. “Is the blood you are giving me English blood?” The two girls looked at each other and really didn’t know what to say. “Not a bit of wonder it’s not working,” I said, mainly for the ears of everyone else on the ward. “I need decent Irish blood, not that foreign English muck.” They smiled nervously at me and began to back away. “Look I said. If you don’t have any decent Irish blood knocking about just give me a couple of cans of Guinness and I’ll be fine by the morning.” Then I heard an Irish accent. Way off in the distance I heard a little female voice that hailed from the same part of the world that my voice did. She responded to the name Aoife, (pronounced Ee Fa) and was the pharmacist on the ward. Of course the first thing that shoots in to my mind it that this could be a sister of mine.
Stranger things have happened, so the next time that she was checking the file at the bottom of my bed I engaged in conversation with her. After the basic pleasantries I got straight to the point and asked Aoife where she was from. Normally in Ireland this is one of the methods used to determine what religion you are, or as they say over there, what foot you kick with. She said Omagh and I expressed a sigh of relief, explaining that I was worried that she may have been my sister and hoped she understood that I couldn’t have cared less what foot she kicked with if she kicked at all, I mean she may have been a biter. I was still being woken every fifteen minutes to have my blood pressure taken, something stuck in my ear and a plastic clothes peg type thing put on one of my fingers.
One of the beds became vacant and I tried to get the other patients on the ward to agree that we would tell the next patient to be wheeled in that everyone on this ward was expected to die within two days and we were all putting five pounds in a kitty so the last remaining patient would scoop the lot. Staff were expecting me to start leaping about the place with the huge amount of fresh blood they were pumping in to me but I wasn’t having any of it. I was still falling in and out of sleep like the Dormouse at the Mad Hatters tea party. Unlike the Dormouse when I was woken, and thankfully not by having tea poured all over my nose, but by a heafty Turkish male nurse at the end of my bed shaking my foot, I didn’t start singing Twinkle twinkle little star. “Do you mind if take your blood pressure sir?” My head was still befuddled with sleep, so I didn’t reply, but when he was wrapping the cuff around my arm, he asked, “Did you have a good night’s sleep sir?” I couldn’t help myself but say. “I feckin was, till some shit woke me up.”
Obviously they are taking so much out of you for tests, it doesn’t have any chance to be restored – how can they expect it to go back up? Searching for veins in vain doesn’t help.