The latest in the saga of our health is that we are getting more nervous as the gastroscopy is the day after tomorrow!

I went to the orthopaedic clinic on Tuesday and saw a Doctor I hadn’t met before and I thought he was going to say I should put up with it and wait for my operation. He started talking about me having a scan and my husband kindly spoke up and asked him to speak to the Consultant (who was next door). He went in  to see him and then came back and said that they had a “cunning plan”. I’m going to a different hospital to have my operation next Wednesday as a trauma case. Apparently the avascular necrosis is like a fracture so they’re getting around the waiting list police and taking me off the list at the cold case hospital which is great. So I’m to go to hospital 1 on Tuesday to keep my appointment for pre-op and then in to  hospital 2 for the surgery, provided the ward doesn’t fill up with accident cases. In the old days,  Consultants  had control over their operating lists.

Strangely having the operation so soon is giving me the chance to think about something other than Saturday.

This week has been quite stressful as my friend’s funeral was on Monday and then I heard that another of my friends has got breast cancer. She is being wonderfully positive .

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Best Hospital in the World (TBH)

TNH was arranged as two long corridors which were bridged at intervals by connecting corridors. the wards were all laid out off the back corridor and each had a day room opening out to the grounds. there were squirrels and rabbits and trees.Patients were kept in hospital for several days after surgery, probably too long if one post appendicectomy patient is an example. the physio was coming to see him so he ran away across the gardens!

Having patients who were, in effect, convalescing, was very beneficial for us nurses because not only could they look after themselves, they could make the tea and dish it out from the trolley. No doubt that wouldn’t be allowed now, health and safety don’t you know!

A patient started a tea club. He got a notebook, took money from all the other patients and went to the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS, now WRVS as Royal is now included in the title) and bought biscuits and extra sugar so the patients could have more. When he was discharged he passed the book on to someone else and so the club continued. I think he came back(to have his other hernia repaired) and ran the club again. Some of the men used to get hungry so we would save roast meat from lunch and make them sandwiches in the afternoon.

It might sound as if we had little work to do but that wasn’t the case at all. We made all the beds, gave bed baths, did dressings, dished out meals and took patients to theatre. When patients were discharged we stripped their beds, turned the matresses and disinfected them and the lockers. We cleaned the sluice and the linen cupboard and did the TPRs and blood pressures. The beds were all low which put a strain on our backs (which is why I’ve had a hip replacement and have got a disc problem). We weren’t allowed to sit down and my feet always killed me! There was always great camaraderie though and the ward maid was part of the team too which is something that ought to be considered these days- no contract cleaners!

Tales from the days of a 70’s student nurse

I don’t know why I decided to become a nurse, it certainly wasn’t a burning ambition. I had worked in the Health Service as a clerk in the waiting list office, in medical records and as a clerical officer and a higher clerical officer at the regional board. It may have been when I met a ship’s surgeon and his nurse on a cruise ship, they seemed to have a lot of fun. I realised that I’d done a whole lot of different jobs and that maybe it was time to get a qualification (other than A levels) as it might become more difficult to get jobs in the future.

I ‘phoned our local hospital and asked what qualifications one needed to apply for nurse training. I was told I’d need O level English. I said I’d got A level but was then asked “but have you got O level?” Maybe I should have realised that that was a clue as to how the NHS operates!

I had to go for an interview where I seem to remember saying that I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty (I’d worked in a potting shed before). Anyway I got a place on the course.

Our training was split between three hospitals in the group with a year spent at each. We had to attend preliminary training school for eight weeks before being let loose on a ward. When we were on a ward we were part of the team and our placements were planned for the whole three years. This meant that,if a student nurse left, her allocated wards would be shorthanded .

PTS was fun really. We had a lecturer who was somewhat fossilised, She liked drawing kidneys and said she’d like to become a pavement artist when she retired, she’d draw kidneys on pavements! She was a nice person but not a fantastically good teacher. I do remember her saying that her tutor had given her a maxim which was”if it’s doubtful it’s dirty” which is a good thought. She told us stories about laughing at people wearing funny hats on buses after night duty and she brought in another old nurse to talk to us about going on nights. She began her lecture by saying “now I know you may be apprehensitive about going on night duty…”, not a good start really!

As far as good starts go, it turned out that Miss Stone (the fossil) had not been teaching us as she should have been. One day she wasn’t there and another teacher came in and proceeded to assume that we knew a heck of a lot more than we did until we pointed out that we hadn’t been taught any of the things she thought we knew! She valiantly crammed in about six systems of the body in two weeks.

One day we had to take measurements for our uniforms. We measured our wrists and the lengths of our arms as well as the usual bust ,waist and hips. As the time for our launch on to the wards got nearer, there was no sign of our uniforms, in fact there was talk of us having to don paper shrouds for our first forray. The uniforms arrived in the nick of time,short sleeved and not sorted in to sizes. It was more a case of diving in and seeing what fitted!

My first ward was male surgical in the “best hospital in the world”. Male Surgical was ward six, a “Nightingale Ward” that is one where the beds are lined up in two rows opposite each other. This arrangement has fallen out of favour because it was thought that people prefer more privacy but, in my opinion, that isn’t necessarily the case. If you are marooned in a hospital bed it is nice to see what’s going on and to be able to ask a passing nurse for something rather than having to rely on a buzzer and a potentially long wait. Similarly, said passing nurse can keep an eye on patients and go to them quickly at the first sign of any trouble. Being stuck in a side room makes the patient feel isolated and gives them more time to brood.

Ward six was beautiful, there was something soothing about the colour scheme.Sort of aqua I suppose. Next door female surgical was a mirror arrangement of ward six but the colour scheme was red and the affect was gloomy. I always found that males made easier patients somehow, often very stoical and grateful for the smallest “extras” like washing a pair of pyjama trousers. The women would want to know why you hadn’t washed to top as well. I put this down to the female patients feeling that it was their turn to be looked after as they did all the looking after others at home. There was also a particularly annoying type of woman who would call out to you to tell you that another patient hadn’t had her meal yet. Obviously, when you are dishing out the meals, someone will be last, won’t they?

The first time I was on the ward I had to take lots of patient’s temperatures. It takes a little while to get the knack of shaking the mercury back down. The next day I wondered why my arm was aching and then I realised that it was all the thermometer shaking.

Flying Dog. MRI scan

My dog can fly!

My dog can fly!

I got my car back (did I mention that I drove it into a skip?) The skip shouldn’t have been parked on the road outside a shop because there was no licence for it. I was parked behind it and, as I pulled out, I scraped the side of my car- only a little bit but there were two bits sticking out of the skip which sort of impaled my car and made two holes which had to be attended to so the car went I to be repaired. It’s a Hyundai Matrix by the way. They lent me a Ka ,only 3000 miles on the clock but already falling to bits. It wasn’t too bad to drive but when both windows were open there was a terrific whooshing sound like you get when you open a back window without opening a front one.
Never mind, I have my car back now which means I can take Ralph to the Windsor and Maidenhead Flood Relief Channel, now called the Jubillee River where he loves to swim and run about and , sorry to admit, chase cyclists. As you can see, he was very pleased.
Today I went for an MRI scan and I hope I never have to have another one. I knew I was a bit claustrophobic but I didn’t realise how much. You have to lie in a tight tube and you can’t see daylight at first. The staff give you a buzzer so they can take you out if you want and I admit I pressed it straight away! So they offered me  company and one of them stayed and kept contact with me and it wasn’t so bad as I was having my lumbar/sacral spine done so the machine passed over me and I had a little bit of daylight at the end of the tunnel (literally)! The machine then start to make a noise like three rock bands accompanied by an pneumatic drill, which is why you are provided with earplugs.
I managed to stay in and tried to adopt a bit of a trance like state, counting dots on the ceiling and tuning in to the rhythm of the noise. Towards the end I did ask if it would be going back over me except on the way out, thank goodness that was the case. I felt panicky as it came back over and was a bit fuddled afterwards to the extent that I forgot to put my bra back on and had to go back in to the changing room. Then I tried to  leave by the wrong exit, I was quite disorientated!
I have an appointment next week for the results.

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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nuclear scan

I’ve been to Harefield Hospital ( yes that’s right , the famous one) to have a bone scan. The hospital is a “proper hospital” in me and my husband’s opinion , I suppose that means it is not frightfully modern looking and it is near countryside. Going in through the main reception you somehow feel welcome. I’m very at home at hospitals anyway because of my time working in them I suppose.

The scanning takes part in a new looking centre , nicely laid and out and very clean. I had some pictures taken and then the radioactive stuff was injected into my vein. Then I had to go away for three hours and drink plenty. We started off with a coffee in the Friends of the hospital Pavillion then we drove home and I drank loads of water. I went to the loo before we headed back but felt the urge to go again almost as soon as we set off. When we got back to the hospital I went straight to the bog!

I was taken straight back in to be scanned as soon as we got to the department. I was advised to go to the loo but explained I’d just been. I think I may have drunk too much water because half way through the procedure I was told to go to the loo again.

I had to lie still on a bed , flat on my back. My feet were tied together and my arms were put in a sort of tube . Needless to say at this point my nose began to itch. Why do noses do that? Further on in the process I had to put my hands above my head which was not very comfortable. I was told to move my hip straight which made it feel crooked. I suppose it took three quarters of an hour. Everyone was very nice and efficient.

It did strike me when walking back through the centre which included the heart transplant clinic and attendant investigation rooms, that it was all very quiet. by this time it was about 4pm , on a Friday afternoon and nothing was going on.

The results will be with the consultant in two weeks. I hope they find something to explain the pain, obviously I know I have arthritis and of course I don’t want to be ill but I’d like to know what’s wrong.

A friend suggested to me , before I had my Birmingham hip done, that the reason it had conked out was because I had worn it out lifting patients when I was a hospital nurse and I think she was right although it hadn’t occurred to me before. (Don’t worry NHS. I won’t sue you)!

On the way back the first time we had a conversation which is unusual when we’re driving. We decided that litter looks worse in the summer and we talked about how we would change things if we ran the country.

Nigel would bring back steam trains and abandon all targets.He’s get rid of SATs and reintroduce Grammar, Secondary Modern and Technical Schools. I would put lots of money in to primary education, get rid of the national curriculum or make it more flexible. I’d make sure that all primary school children got to go in to the countryside to play in the mud and get REALLY DIRTY (without any health and safety input). I’d like them to learn about the importance of trees and of looking after the countryside.

I’d like to see places where younger people could have fun, not youth clubs as such but places where they could learn new skills if they wanted to , climb on things like smaller children do and just meet and hang so they could meet their friends somewhere other than the street or pubs. Obviously the people in charge would have to be quite special to be able to get the balance right between freedom and control.

We would put an end to building on green land. We’d be stricter on immigration.

Quite a conversation for us really! I sometimes think I’ve got to get to know my husband again now we’re retired, sounds a bit daft after being married for nearly twenty-seven years.

We didn’t talk on the way back the second time, he didn’t ask what the scan was like. He was listening to loud classical music. He has a habit of turning it up loud on the quiet bits which means you get a sudden surge of noise when there’s another loud bit. I do like some classical music but when it is very loud it becomes more noise than music if you’re not a concert or controlling the volume yourself. I did check my ‘phone so that I could tell him the (lousy) cricket score.

Published in: on July 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cultivating the art of timewasting

So the girls have gone off to Latitude Festival in Suffolkand it’s very quiet here. I’ve spent all day listening to music on Last.fm and realising that I’ll miss them both so much in September when they go to university.
Claire and I had a nice ride yesterday, the girls were up for it as soon as they felt the grass beneath their feet. I had to shout to Claire to stop cantering because my back was hurting (the pain specialist doesn’t really approve of me riding!) We resumed control and had a lovely ride beside the Jubilee River .

I’m going to Harefield Hospital tomorrow to have my a bone scan. This means being injected with radioactive stuff which shows up the bones. I’m also having an

my beloved pony

my beloved pony

MRI scan at the end of the month. Hopefully this will get to the bottom of the reason for the pain I get in my hip and back. “On XRay the artifical hip looks fine so we’ll just have to see. I should have had these tests and been back to the orthopaedic clinic by now but someone messed up the referrals so lucky I chased them up!

Published in: on July 17, 2008 at 6:46 pm  Comments (1)  


There was a robin’s nest in Apache’s stable and the time came for the babies to learn to fly. One of them seemed to be doing quite well but the other took a few steps out of the nest and didn’t like what he saw so went back in. The next day one of the babies was on the floor in the stable so Claire couldn’t do the mucking out. After a while we became quite concerned for his little creature so a friend got a ladder and some gloves and he caught the little one, climbed the ladder and put him on the beam near they nest. Then he found the other robin. We’re hoping that they are getting on alright now, we’ve seen the parents are still around, in fact one was sitting on the rim of one of the feed bowls having a little snack.

We had a rude awakening this morning. J who I’m pleased to say is a lot better having had a cocktail of about nine different drugs, several intravenously, was sleeping in the lounge when she was woken by a magpie. We’re not sure if one of the cats brought it in or if it fell down the chimney. One of the cats did the cack-cack noise they make when they see prey. Our dog showed a singular lack of interest, preferring to stay in bed with me and my husband- and he’s a Springer Spaniel!

Luckily, Claire was here and she has worked at Swan Lifeline and Heathrow Animal Centre when she was studying animal care. She braved the flapping, charging bird and opened the french windows and, with the help of Patch the cat, encouraged it to fly away.

Yesterday I posted a form to the Nursing and Midwifery Council relinquishing my registration as a nurse. That felt really weird, worse than the act of retiring last June. To go back now would mean taking a course. Not that I have any intention of nursing as I am less mobile than I was last year and I’m enjoying retirement.

Talking of retirement ,the ponies are enjoying being semi-retired. It is a great pleasure to see them in their stables after they have had their supper as they nod off like the elderly ladies they are. I would hate to live without animals.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  


I was going to write this post yesterday but first my photos got lost between the phone and the computer and then what I had written got lost too so I gave up!

Jen was playing in Brighton on Monday, the penultimate gig of her tour. She had to come home afterwards because she had to go to college the next day to do an A level. On Tuesday the last gig in Camden.

Claire and I had agreed to go down to Brighton, hear Jenny play and take her back home. We had a good journey down but could not find the venue as my phone seemed to think it was somewhere other than where it was. After a bit of driving round we located the place and then went shopping.

First stop L’Occitane , one of my favourite shops. I love mimosa so I stocked up on their perfume and shower gel. Got a few other bits and pieces and then set off to find Office to look for some Adicolour Kermit trainers. We had seen them before in Brent Cross but Claire didn’t buy them and then regretted it. Now you can’t buy them. Office was quite a long walk for me (nickname cripple) and it was uphill. No luck when we got there. Had a look in H & M then made our way back to the car to dump stuff. Had a look around at the restaurants and found a nice Italian which served a lovely beer called Messina , I’m not usually a beer drinker, but I can tell you that as I write this I am wishing I had one now.

On Tuesday more excitement , a hospital appointment. Four years ago next month I had a Birmingham hip resurfacing op. It’s like a hip replacement but they get rid of the warn out surface of the hip , fit a mushroom shaped cap on it and put a new socket in as well.

If you are squeamish don’t read on. I had this operation under a spinal anaesthetic ie local into my spine, without any sedation so I knew what was going on all the time, which was quite funny really. At the end of the operation the surgeon said they were closing up and I asked if I would be having sutures or clips. He asked me which I would prefer,I thought that was lovely.

Then he came round to my head end wearing his blood spattered mask under his chin to tell me that it had all gone well and I can remember thinking, “that must be my blood”. Ok, so I am rather odd!

The operation was a great success and I was back on my pony 7 weeks and 5 days later.The only sad thing is that I have had back pain on walking or standing ever since. This is due to spinal arthritis (spondylosis) and I suspect that some of the pain I thought was from my hip was from my back. A friend who I used to work with in my hospital days also had her hip replaced. She reckons that the fact that we both had our right hips conk out was due to the lifting patients we used to do in the pre litigation days with no hoists and very low beds.

Anyway, I was due , well actually very overdue (not my fault) for my check up. My husband came too whch was nice.

Arrived, collected notes and Xray form, had Xray went to see one of the surgeons, a really nice man.No comments about my weight, thank God . Off for another Xray! Back in to surgeon who advised long term intensive physio and pain clinic. So at last something is being done.

Well, enough of that!

I tried to post several times this week, thrawted by tiredness, Jenny wanting the computer, my ineptitude at getting my photos up. At least they have reappeared on my phone!

Baby clinic on Wednesday, a busy one.

Came home today, had to turn round in road because a tree was down. Turned into our drive and saw that a tree had come down in the front garden.Lo and behold! A large branch down in the back garden too, narrowly missing the lounge window, thank God.

I think Ralph must have been scared , poor boy, he was extra cuddly.

Finally uploaded some photos, thanks to bluetooth. how come the ones I took on the move are better than the stationary ones? I need a Geek!

Published in: on January 18, 2007 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  


Sometimes I wonder what will become of me and I feel quite sad. Ilove my husband dearly but he spends too much time asleep these days, usually in front of the televison. He’s not 55 yet but he behaves like an old, old man. My lovely girls will fly the nest before long and I think I could be very lonely. I think this is one of the reasons why I like twitter.com, it’s so lovely and random.

There must be million so of people worldwide who find company on the internet. It’s non judgemental,in the case of this blog no-one reads it anyway!

You can talk about or read about absolutely anything.

One of our patients has just lost his wife, they were together since they were 7 years old. They were married for 60 years. He’s such a lovely man. It’s so sad.

I was thinking today that maybe we whould go back to living in extended families again. There was an article on the news about people having to care for, or fund care for, their relatives. If you read Random Acts of
Reality you’ll see there is a lot of discussion about the ambulance service. The health service is failing. People are increasingly isolated and have no senior family members to consult. This is one of the reasons the services are stretched. There is no reserve of common sense to tap in to, no voice of experience .

A lot of students are having to live at home instead of moving out when they go to university. Maybe that’s a start.

Then there’s the drink problem. Is it because people are generally not that happy, because they think they should have more than they’ve got due to advertising? Take Christmas for example, that mad rush of spending and gorging and having a “good ” Christmas. Then , propbably because of disappointment and sheer boredom from a holiday in the dark of winter what next? Ah yes , the sales. Go and get in a queue , thrash about in crowds and buy things you don’t want or need, withoiut having the money to pay for them of course. Never mind Ocean Finance or similar will consoilidate your debts and give you a ” well deserved” holiday.You’ve got no money, you OWE money so, of course you DESERVE a holiday!

Oh dear, what a rant, must be my age I suppose.

One of my friends at work has got to have her bladder removed. She is so brave, she is so kind and such fun.

I have nominated her for a national honour but as she isn’t a sports person or a civil servant I doubt she’ll get it. She should though for the way she quietly does things for people purely out of the goodness of her heart.

I wish her luck, I hope she’ll be well looked after and won’t get MRSA or C Diff or any other free samples from the hospital. We will miss her so much and we will just be hoping for her to make a quick recovery so that she can come back to work and make us all laugh.

Published in: on January 10, 2007 at 9:16 pm  Comments (3)  


Today I was shown some photos taken last Spring. Tiny little blue tits emerging from a nesting box for their first outing. The patient who showed me them had some pictures of one of the babies landing on her slipper and climbing up her dressing gown. Beautiful and something she’ll never forget.

Claire saw a red kite today. I heard a seagull ,or a land gull or whatever you call them.

We ususally get swallows nesting in the stables, less last year sadly. One year I watched as the babies had flying practice. One by one they flew a short distance from one rafter to another and lined up ready for another go. (Ralph has just gone mad and is running up and down with his squeeky toy, think he’s trying to tell me that he’s more interesting than blogging about birds and ,anyway, chasing them is more fun.)

We used to have a pigeon who in one of the stables, we named him Pidge. He used to wait for the mucking out to be done and then he’d eat the grains left behind. then he would go back up to the rafters and poo on the horses rugs, or the horses, or us.

One day poor Pidge came home with an injured foot. We thought he would be unable to survive like that but he could still fly. Watching him land was amazing, he landed on one foot , wobbled , then stabilised himself.

After a couple of weeks he was able to weight bear. Sadly though , not long after that, a cat got him.He appeared back at his home and a friend took him and put him in her tree house where he was able to die in peace.

Another friend seems to have a knack with birds, a couple of times she has found tired out racing pigeons and has nursed them back to health. Horses feed bins are quite a good place to put them.

Another bird story. Once my old man and I were in Cumbria going to see standing stones called Long Meg and her Daughters. I’m afraid I can no longer remember what type of bird it was but this bird was playing with us. It would stop in the road in front of us so we would stop. Then it flew off and landed again a bit further along the road until we caught up. Off it went again and repeated the process several times, it definately seemed to be a game!

J is getting ready to go and practise before setting off on tour tomorrow. First stop Glascow! C has gone to work for the night, she’ll be in tomorrow as we get up.
I’m planning a really early night tonight, lovely.

I apologise if all this editing lark is annoying, I can’t get spell check on this page, I’ve got all sorts of symbols that I don’t understand instead. Still I suppose I’ll gradually improve – maybe!

Published in: on January 10, 2007 at 6:03 pm  Comments (1)