Sunday is the bleakest day in hospital.
It’s like people aren’t ill on a Sunday, and if you are? Well you’ll just have to wait, because it’s Sunday, and people don’t work on a Sunday.
Which is odd, because I do.
And by ‘odd’ I obviously mean, frustrating, depressing, makes no sense at all and watching your loved ones deteriorating on any day of the week is indescribably hard, but ‘no, that person who might help isn’t here because it’s Sunday, no, they aren’t either. And no. And no,’ is, well, you can imagine.
I had a lovely encounter with a nurse this week.
He came to England from Kerala during the first lockdown.
He left his wife and two year old there. And his Mother – who was also a nurse.
We were waiting for an ultra sound, so just both sat with Mum in a clinic. No pressure on him to care for anyone else.
When he arrived, he spoke no English. There were a number of other arrivals, and there was no time to train them.
He trained as a nurse back home so they were just sent straight into the fire…
He is the loveliest guy, so very caring and so inquisitive about Mum, about how she was, before hospital, before this ward, yesterday… His large eyes and exclamations of ‘Shit…’ when I told him how much better she was 3 weeks ago, made my heart so heavy. In a good way.
She was being looked after by somebody who deeply cared about their patients – who really cared about her improvement, and about what he could do to help her get better.
He told of how it was in the wards at the height of Covid. When his patient was begging to help him breathe, to stop him dying. The nurse called the Doctor over. The Doctor told him he had been working for 16 hours without food or break and could no longer think straight or trust himself to make a sound decision.
The nurse asked him to just sit with them. The nurse would keep the patient alive, but could not do this without the Drs presence.
Another doctor eventually arrived. All were ok.
And now his wife and child are here, you can see their village from Mum’s window. He pointed it out.
He asked me about Mum’s progress. ‘You say that she’s a little better than yesterday? Can you tell me what’s changed?’
I think about it briefly and reply ‘When she opens her eyes, she might now move them fractionally to react to a voice on the other side of her bed.’
This was considerable progress.
Fuck – this was progress?
There has been little progress since.
Do you remember Jacqueline Du Pré being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis? It was 1973 – so many of you will be too young to remember – I don’t remember either, but I do remember my Aunt being diagnosed just a few years later.
Jacqueline Du Pré died in 1987, but my strong and beautiful, determined and caring Aunt fought on, despite utterly debilitating symptoms, until July 27th 2022, when she sadly died – very quickly – of Covid.
Rest in Peace dear Aunty Elizabeth x