The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th January 2023, Cicero 💙 NHS

Well, never say we don’t know how to have a good time here in sunny south London. Not just one, but two consecutive days with visits to A&E at King’s, an accident and emergency department that has achieved national, maybe even international fame due to the series 24 Hours in A&E. Not that there were any tv cameras while we were there, though quite a few notices telling us staff wear body cams.

I didn’t do the whole shifts, just joined in for a while with Octavia as she sat in the waiting area feeling sick and poorly bad. She spent a greater deal longer there than I did. She developed a bad pain under her ribs yesterday morning. It travelled round to her back and left her feeling extremely unwell. She called 111 when it didn’t get better and the next thing she was off to Kings in an ambulance. Tests, scans, samples ensued but no definitive diagnosis. I received a text from her and joined her mid evening.

The waiting room was full. Staff came in and went out, calling names. We waited. Octavia’s pain grew worse. I went through the double doors to request pain relief and to ask how long she might need to wait before being seen again. Standing at the desk I watched as the staff continued working, calmly but ceaselessly. They were like bees, in constant motion. Computer screens were studied, colleagues consulted. Every now and then there was an urgent call for someone to go to resuss.

At last, a nurse had a moment to speak to me. She went over to a doctor, came back, and said it wouldn’t be long. I thanked her and asked how long not long was. Half an hour? An hour? Maybe less than half an hour she said. Octavia was called a few minutes later.

What was striking was how she perked up the moment she knew someone was taking her case forward. The woman who had been sitting hunched over beside me looked up, was able to laugh. It must be hard for staff to appreciate how bad a person is feeling when that rush of serotonin, adrenaline or whatever it is comes into play. I left her in the hands of the medics and came home.

This morning I received a text from her saying she had left the hospital at two in the morning, but she still felt bad. She had been instructed to return if things didn’t return. After I finished work at lunchtime, I texted her to find out what was happening. No immediate response, so I hoped she was sleeping comfortably at home, but it turned out she was back in A&E. After I’d washed up I took the bus down to Denmark hill.

This time I knew where to look for her, but there was no sign. So I progressed to the next area, still no sign, then I heard her voice from behind a curtain. She did look better, but it turned out she had been given an anti emetic and pain killers. Investigations where ongoing. Fortunately the scariest ones had been ruled out. A&E was also quieter on a Saturday afternoon than a Friday night, though the staff were still working non-stop.

After a further wait in the waiting area, forced to listen to the football pundits on the television screen on the wall, she was called to see the consultant. At that point she sent me home. I have heard from her since. The picture is not entirely rosey, but it’s not dire either. I’ll leave it to her tell all in a comment if she feels inclined. She is home again, has painkillers, a clearer idea of what may be going on and sounds more herself. I am hoping chief nurse Mami the Russian Blue is going to roll up her sleeves and make sure her patient is comfortable.

Nurses here are on strike for the first time in the Royal College of Nursing’s history. Support for them is strong. Some have criticised the nurses for striking, saying it’s wrong. It’s not wrong that are striking. It is wrong that they are having to strike. I have felt emotional on strike days seeing them outside both King’s and Tommy’s. Car drivers hooting support as they go past, each time a cheer going up from the nurses and people close by. When Rishi Sunak puts on a sad face and says he’d like to pay nurses more but the government can’t afford it, that any money would have to come out of existing NHS budgets I feel physically sick. It is so much blah. A smokescreen to veil the government’s aim to dismantle the NHS and hand it over to private companies. We cannot afford not to pay nurses, not to pay railway workers. When they withdraw their labour, which is always the last resort, we see how much we need them. Yet the country is losing billions through people avoiding and evading paying taxes. Some people in government, at the very top of government, appear to believe that taxes are only for little people. Twelve years ago the NHS was rated as being the best and most cost effective health service in the world. It is no casual coincidence that its decline from that position has been during the twelve years of the Tories being in power.

When people shake their heads, say the NHS was a lovely fantasy but now it’s time to face reality, they are are just masking the fact that they want to introduce a two tier system, that they do not see good universal health care as a right of every citizen. As Gordon Brown wrote so cogently last week: “what we know of the rising pressures from health inequalities, from the path-breaking work of Michael Marmot, should turn the focus of our attention from this ideological sideshow of charging and private insurance to tackling entrenched poverty and the other social determinants of ill health. It is by attacking and eradicating the causes of ill health that we will do most to reduce waiting lists and pressures on the hospital sector.”

Pay the nurses. Improve their working conditions. Give them and the rest of us hope. Fight for the NHS. It’s one of the best things this country has ever achieved. As Cicero said, The health of the people is the highest law.

Uphold that law.


9 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th January 2023, Cicero 💙 NHS

  1. Thanks so much to you, Isobel. It was an immense comfort to have you with me in A&E on Friday and again on Saturday. They ended up thinking that I may have a gastro viral bug, but left open the possibility that it’s a renal stone.

    The longer this goes on the more I think it’s a renal stone. All of the symptoms fit. My urine showed some blood yesterday (and a trace on Friday. No stone showed on the CT scan but apparently sometimes it doesn’t and you need a CT scan with contrast. Now that I’m not being sick anymore, I’m drinking as much water, ginger beer, etc as I possibly can to try and flush it out.

    I don’t think I have ever felt as ill as I did on Friday afternoon and again yesterday morning. Really frightening.

    Thank you again, Isobel, for being there!

    • I am glad you have a route back to health again. You had us worried for a while. Keep on with the fluids, do they actually help to dissolve renal stones? Glad to have been of some help.

  2. So pleased to hear you’re feeling better, Octavia. What a good friend you have in Isobel. Totally agree with you, Isobel, re the nurses’ strike. “It’s not wrong that are striking. It is wrong that they are having to strike.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.