When I was about 6 years of age (that is to say, just before the “Swinging Sixties” began) it was discovered that it wasn’t only the crappy school dinners at Luther Road Primary School (now known as “Hillside”) that were causing me to throw up in bed at night on regular occasions!
The “food” concerned was getting wedged in my throat due to my enlarged Tonsils and a visit to the local hospital was scheduled to whip them out.
This was a considerable improvement on a generation earlier – pre-NHS and in similar circumstances my father had HIS Tonsils removed by the family doctor on my Grandmother’s kitchen table! I’m sure that entailed no risk of infection whatsoever! I can only hope it didn’t interfere too much with my Grandfather’s dinner!
The old Anglesey Road Hospital in Ipswich was a massive Victorian (possibly even Georgian) stone-built building extended quite massively over the years. This extension may even have gone underground to some extent as my enduring memory is of being wheeled to the operating theatre down long, semi-circular, white tiled “tunnel” corridors reminiscent of some old parts of the London Underground.
I am, despite my prestigious GCE “O” Level in Biology, still uncertain as to the purpose or function of Tonsils, save that like the Wasp we seem to be better off without them! What does seem to be the case, however, is that they (Tonsils, that is NOT Wasps) are somehow inextricably linked with similar objects called Adenoids which extend into the nasal area and which are normally removed at the same time.
This double removal happened to me and resulted in a long-lasting psychological effect and what was probably my first brush with non-parental authority!
Before I went into the hospital my parents had dutifully taught me certain social skills, most notably how to avoid the classic small boys’ permanent snot dribble by blowing my nose on a handkerchief.
After my “operation” I fell foul of a rather stern nurse on the children’s ward and, because of the nose element involving those Adenoid things I was told off for blowing my nose as previously taught. I am aware even now that had she gently explained WHY to me I would have made every effort to keep my hands off the hanky but when I was caught a second time she over-reacted by taking it away from me completely!
My way of revolting against the spiteful cow was a refusal to use a handkerchief at all for some years afterwards to the annoyance of my parents!
Fortunately I had no reason for further involvement with the 1950s/60s hospital system but have over the last 10 years or so (and indeed the last few months) experienced the modern equivalent.
My most powerful and prolonged association came in November 2006 (it was contemplating the 10th anniversary of that event that started me writing this in November 2016) when I collapsed with an allergic reaction.
I don’t believe I have ever told that story here although an abridged version does appear in the 2006 chapter of my fishing memoir) so here it is:
I visited my Doctor on the evening of 6th November 2006 with a “creaky” hip joint and was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs of the sort that my wife has for serious back aches usually incurred by excessive gardening and which I have used myself in the past.
I took one before going to bed that night at about 11p.m. and woke up 7 hours later with a desperate need to visit the en-suite bathroom. I also noticed that my entire skin felt hot and itchy.
Much of what follows I cannot state as gospel truth as you will see but I don’t think Faith made any of it up.
A few seconds after I went into the bathroom she heard a crash and when I didn’t answer her calls she managed to get the door open, help me to my feet and get me back into bed. As I wasn’t coherent and fearing that I had experienced a stroke of some sort, Faith went downstairs to call an ambulance. While she was doing so I, in my befuddled state, decided once again to go to the bathroom and once again collapsed to the floor, this time passing out completely!
And that was how the Ambulance men found me.
They diagnosed Anaphylactic Shock and started me, in situ, on an Anti-histamine drip to keep me alive while my body tried to shut down completely.
What they failed to realise (and I don’t blame them one bit – saving my life was MUCH more important) was that the central heating had come on at full blast while I was unconscious and I was laying with my left hip wedged up against the feeder pipe for the bathroom radiator!
I spent most of the day in hospital on that drip and what turned out to be a third degree burn was taken to be a graze resulting from my fall in a confined space.
It took several months to heal completely and necessitated going to the Peterborough NHS Walk-in Centre every couple of days to get the dressing changed. As I went back to work after only a couple of days this meant evening visits and as a result I became quite well acquainted with the evening/night shift staff. As we went into December I quipped that as a regular “customer” I should get invited to the Staff Christmas Party.
They replied to the effect that, while they couldn’t invite all of me, my left buttock was welcome to attend!
I’m sure that the whole healing process was extended and made much worse by the fact that the burn, and therefore the dressing, was right where the waistbands of both my underpants and my trousers rubbed against me. That, however, wasn’t the fault of the Walk-in Centre staff for whom I had (and indeed still have) the greatest respect, gratitude and admiration.
Just lately, as I mentioned in my review of the year 2016 a few weeks ago, I have spent a lot of time escorting or visiting various family members at the Peterborough City Hospital and on all of those occasions the “front-line” staff have been brilliant!
And yet, I keep reading of and hearing about “Crisis in the NHS” and “Hospitals cutting back services for lack of cash” and have to conclude that this can only be because there are whole echelons of unnecessary chair-warmers hidden behind the hard working and caring front-line professionals.
Given the amount of well-informed press coverage there must, indeed, be whole teams whose sole purpose is to report on where cuts due to lack of funds need to be made!
Well, I may be being naïve here but wouldn’t cutting out those teams be a grand place to start saving money?
Prune out anyone in a team such as that who doesn’t actually do anything positive (right up to the top level six-figure earners at the head of the chain) in all of the many NHS Trusts around the country and I’m sure funds would suddenly be available again!
Sometimes these articles take a long time to finish due to my lacking a good way to end and this is a case in point!
As I write these last few paragraphs on 1st February 2017 (3 months after I started) I am sitting in a waiting room at the Hospital while my wife has a routine scan for Osteoporosis (all was fine I’m pleased to say) and a lady next to me is reading the Daily Mail which has an apt headline.
“Health tourism ‘chaos’ draining the NHS”!
Apparently the billing process for foreigners who don’t qualify for the “free” service that we natives get by virtue of paying for it, is completely screwed (surprise, surprise) and hundreds of millions of pounds per year are being lost.
Now there’s a job for those “cuts” teams!
Get rid of the people responsible for the messed up process, they are plainly inept , and give new contracts to these other spare parts paying them £1 for every £100 they recover from the non-paying “health tourists”. After all they seem very adept at bullying their own colleagues into cutting costs; squeezing a few quid from some defaulting foreigner should be child’s play!
If they get really good at it they might even be able to rise to the sort of earnings they expect highly trained Nurses to get by on!
And then, of course, there’s the £350 million PER WEEK that the NHS will allegedly get from our saved contributions to the EU following “Brexit” – but how many people would believe in a promise like that enough to vote for it?
Really?! It seems as though Education must be in trouble as well!
Right! That’s the National Health Service sorted – all the Government had to do was ask me! What’s next?