Compassion, care and a fried egg

Three weeks silence has been forced by a repeat visit of acute back problems. Spinal stenosis in the lumbar back was eased last summer by an injection at L4/5. Now the acute focus is at L3/4. The last three weeks have been dominated by morphine induced woolliness and extraordinary gymnastics to achieve simple tasks such as visiting the loo.

The comparison between ten days of hospital care and returning home to the care of my wife Sheelagh, is interesting. In hospital there is no shortage of manpower (sorry personpower) (womanpower really – should I get more PC in my thinking), to help get all these tasks done. There is also a store of equipment and good practice experience. At home the lack of resources is made up for by the familiarity of the surroundings, undistracted love and care, and the provision of food which comes high up my favoutites list. You also feel that you are working together towards a beneficial end. Even though I get “dont even think of trying that” at home, it is delivered with sympathy and the hint of possible negotiation.

There is no negotiation where Sister Helen is concerned. After some four stays on her ward in the last four years Sister Helen has got the measure of me. To be fair her team are superb and I only have praise for Ludlow Ward at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital at Oswestry, and that includes Mo, who is every bit as formidable (and kind) as her boss. On such wonderful people is the real NHS built.

The hospital has one other call to fame. I have to admit that I have not done any research to estbalish whether RJAH is unique, the first, or one among many, but freshly cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast ! Brown or white toast, warm on the plate ? A pot of real coffee ? Yes this is a hospital breakfast which humbles many hotel breakfasts. I had my first egg and bacon with some trepidation. Long term recall of what hospitals can do to food vanished. It was hard to resist every day thereafter but I had to. The constipatory side-effects of eggs topped up the similar characteristic of morphine and other strong pain-killers. My earlier comment about extrordinary gymnastics has a deep rooted origin.