Monday, 26 October 2015


On Saturday my good friend Geraldine came to visit me.

G. and I go back. Way back. We knew each other as kids. We met at the riding stables and we bonded over Horses and Ponies, brushing the yard, mucking out. And that kind of friendship is the best kind of friendship, the kind of friendship that lasts a lifetime.

These days G. is a Vet. She had always wanted to be a Vet. She is also a Mum to two exceptional boys. To Jamie, the Piano-playing, Guitar-playing, Mathematician, Scientist, Teenager and Genius; and to Johnny the Gorgeous, Funny, Rugby-playing, Drum-playing, all-knowing eight year old trouble-maker (I blame the parents!). G. is also married to the Gorgeous, Engineering, Entertaining, old enough to know better, Giz.

G. finds time in her busy schedule (as well as being a Vet and Mum and Wife, and she is a Tri-Athlete and has raised money, raised c.£1,400  for Canine Partners competing in the Chatsworth House Olympic Distance Triathlon) to come and visit me with her Black Labrador Super Sonic. And so Sonic gets a new ball and we head off on a doggy walk, and as Sonic chases his ball, G. and I catch up on all the latest gossip.  And then we come back and have lunch, or as a real treat we go out and have lunch.

G. and Sonic used to compete in Dog Agility and we used to have great fun going to competitions, taking it in turns to make the picnic, meeting other dogs and owners.  We used to refer to it as going 'Dogging' and would giggle as people were shocked thinking we were referring to the 'sex in public places' type of 'Dogging' rather than 'Dog Agility'.  The picnics got more and more extravagant each trip out and at one memorable show with glorious weather everyone got invited back for Pimms (with all the fruit trimmings) and nibbles.  I am Sonic's Official Photographer.  Happy Happy Days.
G. has collected me and taken me to Rugby Festivals that Johnny has competed in with Hinckley Rugby Football Club and Johnny is rather modest about the fact that I am his official photographer.  

There is something about Old Friends that is enduring and re-assuring. Old Friends know the best of you and know the worst of you.  They've see you through thick and thin.  Through good times and bad times.  They know your secrets, and you know theirs.  You can't really upset them. You can't really shock them. They are just there, and that is exactly where you need them to be.
G. understand how difficult I am finding it to come to terms with my MS and with the implications that this has placed upon me, recognises how upsetting and distressing I find it not being able to do the things that I was once able to do, but G. works with me to find ways that work so that we can still do some of the things that we have always done.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Doctor, Doctor, I've got wind! Can you give me something?
Yes - here's a kite!
Doctor, Doctor, everyone keeps throwing me in the garbage.
Don't talk rubbish!
Doctor, Doctor, I feel like a pack of cards.
I'll deal with you later.

People always assume GP's have it easy, earn £100,000+, earn LOADS of money.

But, do you know what? GP's Work Hard. They work really hard. Sorting out your coughs and colds, and nasty rashes, and bumps and bruises, and vomit and diarrhoea and blimey, I don't want to think about some of the things that they have to see and smell.  They earn it, however much it actually is. It is well-earned!

And do you know what? My GP, Dr. Rachael CLARKE, is worth every penny. I am sick. I am poorly. I am ill. I am really quite ill indeed. I have Primary Progressive MS. And do you know what? The support of my Health Care Professional, my GP, of Dr. CLARKE is so hugely reassuring. So massively reassuring. I honestly don't know what I would do without her.

And do you know what the most important thing is? She believes me, when I say I am in pain, when I say I've got fatigue, when I say I have a strange sensory symptom, all of which are invisible, she listens.  Dr. CLARKE doesn't sugar-coat things. But she is prepared to work with me.  She is honest. She explains that she is not a Neurologist, and she doesn't have all the answers, especially since there are A LOT of questions. She offers to face the uncertainty with me. To think outside of the box. I couldn't ask for anything else. I really am very lucky.

I can be serious with Dr. CLARKE, I can explain my fears. and we can talk through my options.  I can make suggestions and we can talk those through and discuss them. I feel like a person rather than a nameless 'patient'.  Dr. CLARKE offers me 'continuity of care', so I can walk in her surgery and she can say, 'Oh, you look rough' because she knows me. When I go into her surgery and grunt, she know that I am experiencing 'Cognitive Difficulties' and could possibly have a UTI. I hugely value this. She makes time for my consultation, and I really appreciate that too and I do not underestimate the importance of it for a second.

And, I can have a laugh with Dr. Clarke, forget my MS for a second, and just enjoy human interaction with another human, an articulate, amusing, educated woman. Talking about dogs or horses or recipe ideas.

I once went in to Dr. Clarke surgery feeling really terrible, and she asked, 'Do you want me to prescribe an suppository?'. Erm, that would be a 'NO'! Nobody wants to be prescribed that.  She realised what she had just said, and agreed, it probably wasn't the best offer I'd ever had!
The reception staff at Merridale Medical Centre are fabulous too.  Jade and Martin and Abbie and well, all of them really.  They do what they can, even if that is just to pass on a message. They greet you with a smile, and sometimes that is all that they can do, but sometimes that is enough.

I hate my MS. And I am scared by it.  Because of the uncertainty I face.  The fear of the unknown. Dr. CLARKE understands this, understands that this fear that is born out of uncertainty, and the guilt that is born out of disability and lack of mobility. Dr. CLARKE doesn't promise to solve all of my problems, or to predict the future. She does something better than that she ensures that I do not have to face it alone. That is tremendous. To have that understanding is immensely reassuring. Thank You Dr. CLARKE.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

UHL-tr4: Ward24

I was transported to Ward16 via A&E and from Ward16 to Ward24.
I was immediately made to feel welcome.  It just immediately upon arrival, just all seemed re-assuring.  Upon arrival on Ward24 I was delighted to feel well enough to want to take a shower, a shower that was lovely and clean and I was confident that I would leave feeler cleaner than when I entered. And there were seats provided to use in the shower, and the water was warm and wet and I was given a clean towel. Simple pleasures are so reassuring.
I really cannot praise highly enough the care, commitment and compassion of the nursing staff (Nurses and Health Care Assistants – I use the terms wrongly and interchangeably) on Ward24 of the LRI. And I have to give Cynthia MHLANGA a special mention for being particularly SPLENDID.  But, in fact all of the Nurses and HCA really nailed all 6 of the 6 C’s of Nursing (Care, Compassion, Commitment, Communication, Competence and Courage).  I can add that they also added a healthy dose of Humour, which I suppose comes under Communication, but which  was both most welcome and appreciated. They wholly encapsulated the UHL-tr vision of ‘Caring at its best’.  Ward24 treated me with dignity and respect and have developed a positive and supportive culture of Care that recognises Cultural and Religious beliefs and differences, but everyone is afforded the same high level of care.
Jane CUMMINGS the Chief Nursing Officer for England (CNO) at the NHS Commissioning Board and Viv BENNETT, Director of Nursing at the Department of Health (DoH) delivered their ‘Vision for Nursing’ and the idea of ‘Compassion in Practice: Nursing, Midwifery and Care Staff’ in 2012.  I believe that Ward24 meet these targets and ambitions and exceed them.  They took a holistic approach to my care. I felt that my health and general well-being and emotional well-being actually mattered to them. 
One of the patients on the Ward in the bed opposite to me had dementia and was confused. The Nurse/HCA responsible for her care, reassured the patient and took the time to quietly and calmly and repeatedly alleviate the patient’s worries and dispel their fears, even though their fears were unfounded.  The Nurse/HCA appreciated that to the patient their fears felt very real. The Nurse/HCA encouraged and supported, which are two of the nicest things that you can do for a person.  The way that the Nurses/HCA talked to the patients highlighted the importance of Communication; to engage and to listen as well as to talk.
The staff of Ward24 appreciated that to a greater or lesser extent we were all frightened.  We were in hospital, we were facing uncertainty and we were scared, we were frightened.  Providing reassurance at this time really is the greatest kindness.  The staff of Ward24 seemed to instinctively know what was needed or required, and didn’t mind taking the time to ensure that tasks were completed is a timely manner. Calmly and Professionally, with Kindness. Kindness is a quality that is so under-rated.  Kindness is a quality that was apparent in abundance on Ward24, and long may it continue.
Being on Ward 24 being a Neurological Ward I met with Neurologists; Dr. Mark LAWDEN was very calm and thoughtful and considered, and was accompanied by Dr. Faiqa FARAZ; Sharon FELTON a representative from the Occupational Therapy Team, and Cheryl from the Physiotherapy Team and Kerry SANDERSON the Speech a Language Team with essential Neurological Knowledge so I was able to be referred to the relevant person for an outpatient appointment.  Kerry, the speech and language therapist visited with Water and a Banana and a carton of Ambrosia Creamed Rice.  YUM!
Thank-You Ward24 you do a great job, but it isn’t a job, it is more than a job it is a vocation.  You do make a difference, the world of a difference.  More than you know. Tell Carol that I missed her; she was always good for an extra cup of tea. Tell Liz that I missed her too, but I am NOT planning on making a trip to the surgical ward just to see her.  All of the staff on Ward24 went above and beyond to ensure that my stay and I think everyone elses was absolutely as comfortable as possible.  Ward24 epitomizes all that is amazing and valued and celebrated about the NHS.  Ward24 is ‘Caring at its best’.
Thank You. Thank You. Thank You to:  Holly, Debbie, Cynthia, Alex, Liz, Dawn, Nelson, Sophia, Sheeela, to Denise the clearer who keeps everything spick and span, and Clare the Ward Clerk who keeps everyone under control.  The kindness that I witnessed was humbling and it was very much appreciated.  Ward24 you have very much restored my faith in the LRI in the UHL-tr and in the NHS. You are indeed a credit to the UK Healthcare system.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Imagine having an Invisible Illness. Imagine having an illness that is unable to be seen. That is ‘Out of Sight’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Not Visible’. Imagine having an Invisible Pain. Imagine a pain that is SO real, and SO terrible, and SO all-consuming that you feel entirely wretched and miserable and distressed. BUT, that this is a pretty big BUT, a pretty gigantic BUT actually … BUT … nobody can see your illness, your pain. It is in fact, Invisible.

Imagine that you experience Fatigue. You experience a tiredness that is like nothing you ever imagined. You feel weak and you feel exhausted. Both your mind and your body. You have no motivation. You have no enthusiasm. You have no motivation and no enthusiasm for anything. Nothing.

Because they can’t be seen, it makes it difficult for people to understand or empathise.

The invisible nature of the invisible illness or the invisible symptoms of the invisible illness means that the sufferer, or the individual who is living with the symptoms may find it hard to explain their symptoms as they can’t be seen they are not visible and therefore the general public are left largely unaware.  Imagine that.

When we talk about Invisible Illnesses we are talking about conditions like:

  • Lupus
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

It is important to remember that Invisible Illnesses can be physical and mental, so they also refer to Mental Health conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Worry / Anxiety 
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Bi-Polar

People who have an Invisible Illnesses, whether physical or mental, feel guilty because no-one can see or understand their illness. If you have an Invisible Illness you might feel guilty despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong. You feel guilty for having an illness, a Chronic Condition.  Guilt therefore is another silent and invisible side-effect of living with a Chronic Illness.

There is the guilt of feeling like a burden to others, that you are a disappointment.  Chronic Illness deprives you or can deprive you of your independence in many ways, and this then eats away at your self-esteem, which has most likely already taken quite a pounding, reinforcing the fear that you are a disappointment.  You are constantly haunted by that nagging doubt that frightful, distressing fear that you are not ‘Good Enough’, all of which is reinforced by the fact that you look ‘Fine’, that you look ‘OK’, better than OK, you probably look ‘good’.  You don’t feel ‘Good Enough’ and therefore you don’t feel that you deserve to be loved or valued or supported. This is really a frightful cycle to get caught in.

And as if all that isn’t bad enough, you have a strong sense of fear. Fear that people won’t believe you.  Fear that people don’t believe you. Fear that your condition will get worse, and the speed that that deterioration may happen at. You are scared. You are terribly terribly scared. And in your fear and guilt and pain and fatigue you feel lonely. Because even people who have the same chronic condition as you experience it, or may experience it is an entirely different way. You are ultimately the only person who knows and understands how you feel.

Quite often these Invisible Illnesses are not life-threatening, but they certainly can be Chronic Conditions, which can definitely and drastically affect the quality of life. These conditions can be 24/7 365 days a year.

This year Invisible Illness Awareness Week is being held from 29.09.15 until 04.10.15 with the intention being to raise awareness regarding Invisible Illnesses, encouraging people to BLOG about and share their experiences. Please help as much as you can to raise awareness.

Monday, 31 August 2015


On Sunday 30.08.15 I 'Braved the Shave' for Macmillan Cancer Support. I put up two fingers to Cancer for Macmillan Cancer Support.

People really were tremendously supportive and extremely generous.  I raised £1357.32 (plus £317 Gift Aid), and £150 cash donations on the day, but people can still contribute:

Joyce HOUCHIN who is 95 and who has lived on the street for over 60 years, and was friends with my Granny, came along as 'Guest of Honour' to preside over the proceedings.  Joyce was slightly bemused by it all, but joined in with the shenanigan and even took her very first selfie.

Kirsty ALLEN no longer works as a hairdresser but agreed to look out her clippers and come out of hairdressing retirement for this one-off gig seeing as it was for such a great cause.

I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in 2011, my friend Vix EDWARDS was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS in 2010. MS is very very different from Cancer but the feelings of fear and uncertainty are shared.  So it was wonderful to have her support, and have someone to literally hold my hand.  A video of all the action was recorded:

The word 'Cancer' is a very evocative one, one that terrifies. Almost everyone is touched in some way by Cancer, through a loss of a friend or family member.  Brave the Shave understands that the loss of hair due to some Cancer treatments can be emotional and upsetting and difficult to come to terms with, as people are left feeling vulnerable and less confident as a result.


I am thrilled to have participated and raised money for Macmillan Cancer Support.  I am really very very grateful to everyone who came to support me. I am particularly grateful to Suzanne NELSON, who usually cycles everywhere, who decided to drive and who got caught up with the Skyride traffic diversions, the irony was not lost on us!

My friend Rose BARLOW has a variety of hats and wigs available and Vix and Deb and I endlessly amused ourselves trying them all on!

Saturday, 16 May 2015


Caring at its best or not? 'Caring at its best' is the Univetsity Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust 'tag line'. It is one of the 'Values' and purpose.
My experience of the LRI Day Ward, Floor 2, Balmoral Building, unfortunately really did not demonstrate 'CARING AT ITs BEST'.

When you are ill, when you are lying there in a hospital bed, when you are willing that the next person to walk onto the Ward has a gun to shoot you. You are arguably feeling pretty low. You begin to feel HELPLESS and HOPELESS! And then you start to feel worthless and a burden and the cycle of negativity begins and continues, and continues to grow.

This is when the amazing Nursing Staff that I have had the privilege to be cared by make a HUGE difference. A kind word and some reassurance from both the Staff Nurses and the Health Care Assistants, makes all the difference in the world. The Nursing care therefore that I had previously experienced on Ward 25 (
see previous BLOG) and Ward 14 (Bay4) (See previous BLOG) had set my expectations of the standard of care at an ambitiously high level as the care had been of the absolute highest standard.
However, on the Day Ward
 I was made to feel that I was not really a priority, that I was an inconvenience; that I was somehow not ill, but was 'attention seeking' or 'making it up'. The Staff Nurse on the Day Ward demonstrated a real lack of understanding of what it feels like to be a patient, of how a patient might feel. There was absolutely no empathy. No comprehension of how scared or lonely a patient may feel. That they couldn't find anything wrong, not because there wasn't anything wrong, but because they couldn't FIND anything wrong.  In dealing with me the Staff Nurse made me feel like an unwelcome distraction from other things that needed doing. This made me feel even more wretched than I was already feeling.

The Staff Nurse really demonstrated what can only be described as rather an appalling attitude.
The Nursing and Care Staff I had previously encountered had been of such a high professional standard that they really were a credit to the LRI, UHL-tr, and the NHS. Therefore when I experienced Nursing Care that was 'somewhat lacking' shall we say, in comparison the stark contrast felt more wholly apparent. The Staff that I had previous encountered demonstrated Nursing as a 'VOCATION' rather than as a 'JOB'.  
They took a holistic approach to my care; both my physical and mental well-being was considered and they advocated and demonstrated Person-centred care.

However the care on the Day Ward was arguably a 'LACK OF CARING'. 'CARING AT ITs WORST'.  Measure A of the 'Principles of Nursing Practice' states that, "Nurses and nursing staff treat everyone in their care with dignity and humanity - they understand their individual needs, show compassion and sensitivity, and provide care in a way that respects all people equally."  
I do not believe that these principles were adhered to.
I was a patient, in hospital, and I felt ill. I didn't know what was wrong with me, the Doctors didn't know what was wrong with me. I was alone and scared in a hospital bed in my JimJams and I felt utterly and wholly vulnerable, scared and alone. All I knew is that I felt more terrible, more wretched than I had ever done in my life.
As I said earlier, as a patient laying in a hospital bed I felt HELPLESS and I felt HOPELESS. And that really is one of the worst feelings imaginable. The Staff Nurse on the Day Ward rather than helping to alleviate these fears with a smile, a kind word or the touch of a hand, she made me feel WORTHLESS which only added to the terrible spiral of negativity. The terrible spiral of negativity; fuelled by fear, a spiral that it is so easy for the patient to become embroiled in.

The Staff Nurse in question may have been having a 'Bad Day' may had received bad news in her private life that was completely devastating.  May herself have been feeling under the weather. She is only human. She may have been hung-over; I understand that, and it is unfair of me to judge. But, the way that I was made to feel was unacceptable, it really was wholly inappropriate; and tarnishes the perception of the whole LRI, UHL-tr and NHS, and I hate to think of other people experiencing the same LACK of Care at a time when arguably they need it the most.

The attitude of this one person tarnishes the amazing work and the hard work of her colleges and fellow Nurses of the LRI, UHL-tr and NHS.  And, I really don't believe that she embraced the 6 C's of Nursing:
Care - although she cared for me as part of her job, she didn't take care of me holistically, and certainly didn't go above or beyond in any means imaginable;

Compassion - she showed little or no compassion towards me, or towards how I was feeling;

 - she wasn't committed to making me feel that I wasn't a burden, or making me feel that I wasn't a worthless, which was how I was feeling;

Communication - she failed to communicate with me in a way that put me at ease about my worries, and she failed to reassure;

Competence - although technically efficient, she showed a lack of understanding about my health needs simply by not understanding what was wrong with me. This is not necessarily her fault that she didn't know what was wrong as me, as I was undiagnosed and no one seems to know what was wrong with me, but 'no diagnosis' doesn't automatically mean there is 'nothing wrong', it just means they 'don't know' what is wrong;

Courage - this was not evidently shown as she did not demonstrate personal strength or vision.

I am very mindful that the Nursing and Care staff that had been responsible for my care had been of the absolute highest standard, and that the negative actions of one individual should not be allowed to overshadow that, and that my expectations of the LRI, UHL-tr and the NHS should remain at an ambitiously high level.

Monday, 16 March 2015


I know that it is March. It is March again. It was March last year too, and the year before. And I know that March is MS Awareness Month. It is MS Awareness Month again. It was MS Awareness Month in March last year too, and the year before. But how to mark it? How to 'celebrate' it? How to Raise Awareness?  That is what MS Awareness Month is all about, Raising Awareness.

Trishna Bharadia has already done stirling work this month. Trishna, already an MS Champion, was chosen to appear in the 'People's Strictly' in aid of 'Comic Relief'.  Trishna has done Marvellous and Remarkable and Splendid work. She has flown the MS Flag for everyone with MS and passionately and courageously she (along with her lovely dance partner Aljaz Skorjanec) proudly lofted the MS Flag up as high as she could reach and waved it with enthusiasm. Trishna and Aljaz have trained and worked hard, really hard to learn their dance (the Jive). Well done Trishna. You were amazing. You raised money and you raised awareness. You were our MS Dance Star. What have you done today to make you feel proud? Trishna Bharadia you have achieved a stack. You can certainly feel very proud.  Rightly Very Proud. On behalf of everyone with MS, Well Done you. Alijaz wasn't bad either.

So, what am I going to do? Well, it turned out that I am going to highlight MS Awareness Month by feeling terrible and going to Hospital, to the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI). Part of the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust initially to the Urgent Care Centre (sort of what was A&E). In the Urgent Care Centre I was given something to stop me feeling sick and something for the pain and where I was put on a trolley and put on a drip and then despatched off onto Ward15 the Medical Assessment Ward.

When you are lying on a Hospital Bed, really not feeling your best and certainly not looking your best, when the pain really becomes so unbearable so all-consuming that you think you want to die; when you really would make any sort of deal with anyone who could offer you a viable solution. To anyone who could ease your pain. When all you want is just for the pain to end. When you have dealt with pain, and lived with pain, and carried on with pain, and suddenly something within you shouts 'ENOUGH' I simply cannot do this any longer. And when you once were able to carry on with the pain living and carrying this burden of pain with you at every waking moment, at that point you can't eat, you can't sleep, you can't drink, you can't swallow, you can't think and you can't speak. And for anyone who truly knows me, they know it takes a monumental amount of anything to get me to shut up; to not speak. But if you are in enough pain, you do eventually shut up. Even me. Even I shut up if I am in enough pain.

So there I am. Wheeled on a trolley in my Onesie and Boots to Ward 15; the Medical Assessment Ward of the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust. Lying on a Hospital Bed on a drip in my pink Onesie (with the hood with ears) and my Boots. Unfortunately not an Orange Onesie to raise MS Awareness. My hair un-brushed. Basically, it is fair to say I looked ROUGH. I like to think that somehow through my pain I somehow managed and looked strangely attractive. But, no.  Alas.  At this moment in time I looked ROUGH. Fair to say really ROUGH. Not in the slightest FOXY.

The staff on Ward 15. The Staff Nurses and Health Care Assistants and the Doctors. These people are fabulous. It is always difficult to express thanks because of the fear of not mentioning someone ...but Carly was lovely straight from the moment I arrived in Bay 4. She welcomed me and introduced herself and said that they would help. I probably grunted something incoherently, which meant 'I am really pleased to meet your acquaintance and if you could do something about the pain that would be marvellous'.  

Ward 15 has a high turnover of Patients, as they more from A&E / the Urgent Care Centre to be found a bed and placed on a relevant Medical Ward. But despite this high turnover, quick pace and huge amount of paper work that is quickly amassed of Blood Pressure and Heart Rate and Temperature and the like. Everyone is treated friendly, quickly, politely and calmly. Even in my state of not being quite with it, I was able to recognise that everyone is treated in a reassuring and kind manner.

And things do quieten down in the evening. The Nurses arrived for the night shift. These are people who have chosen a job of looking after the sick and ill and injured and those not always able to help themselves. These people do have their own dramas and lives and worries and domestic trials, but they put them on hold and come to work to put 'your/my' health and well-being as their priority.  This really is a self-less task, and one which is acknowledged but not probably in the manner that it should be.  That evening; Saturday Night; I was in a hospital bed in my Onesie.  By now I had put on a pair of socks rather than my boots. I felt like crap and was still fairly uncommunicative. But that didn't really matter too much as that Night our Staff Nurse was James; and to be honest I am not sure I would have got a word in edgeways! 

James was hugely engaging to listen to. Quite soothing and reassuring. Nothing was too much trouble. At some point he decided that the main lighting on the Ward was too bright and suggested we move to more 'mood lighting', and he achieved a much calmer and relaxing environment.  He then apologized for lack of a 'DISCO Ball'. He took time to engage everyone in turn. Nothing was too much trouble for James or Hayley. Nothing. It was all very ordered and systematic. Although James is slightly OCD about the curtains that divide the bays, and gets really quite annoyed and cross that the Doctors don't seem able to close them after they have examined or spoken to a patient. At one point someone on the ward commented that they were dying for a 'Cup of Tea'. No sooner was this said than James had fetched the tea trolley and offered to make everyone a drink.  James was busy; he had more urgent things to do. But he recognised that there is a big different between what is urgent and what is important. A patient needed a cup of tea.  A simple thing. A simple request. A simple pleasure. A simple gesture. But so reassuring. James rather took the bull by the horns at this point and with gusto declared that if we were having tea we were at least having biscuits and cake too. And to his credit he indeed supplied tea and cake to those who wanted it.  I was still feeling nauseous and somewhat off-colour, not 100% so turned down the kind offer of a Cuppa; again testament to the fact that I really felt quite shockingly wretched, and pretty damn rough, as I never ever refuse an offer of a Cup of Tea. He also told me an amusing story that involved RAF Uniform, Singapore, Gin, and Raffles, and being outrageously drunk.

I made it through the night and as the dawn approached I was hooked up to my third consecutive drip. Being in hospital is scary. No matter how old you are. No matter what day it is. No matter what is wrong with you. It is frightening and it is lonely.

The day shift returned and the night shift made their farewells. And Carly and Katriona were back in charge. Reassuring, and ensuring that everyone was as comfortable as possible, whilst swiftly and efficiently dealing with the paperwork and day to day matters.  Getting us up and washed. I unhitched from my drip and stumbled towards the shower. I was in there for ages. You don't think very quickly and you don't move very quickly when you are unwell.  And everything is a monumental effort. Everything. But eventually I was clean and into my clean WonderWoman Onesie. And to compliment the look I was given some UHL-tr Socks. How splendid are they?

Rose, An elderly lady of 89 (as she kept reminding anyone who would listen) demanded that her Nurse demonstrate the absolute Patience of a Saint.  Rose was rather loud with her cries of 'HELP'. 'HELP ME'. 'I CAN'T BREATHE'. The Nurses checked her Oxygen levels, which were c. 96%. They gave her an oxygen mask. But she kept taking the mask of to shout. Kim was calmly polite and reassuring but firm. Rose was 89. SHe was in hospital. She was alone and she was frightened. I am not 89, but I was alone and frightened too.  We all were. The uncertainty and diagnosis and treatment. It is frightening. This is when Nurses appreciate the importance of the touch of a hand. They understand kindness. They recognise that the touch of a hand can convey so much, can reassure. But this simple kind gesture also conveys a lot of information to the Nurse.  Is the patient is hot or cold? Is there skin clammy or dry. They are constantly checking even when you don't realise that they are. One noisy patient does unrest the rest of the Bay.

The lady moved into the Bay next to me was 'Nil By Mouth'. When she arrived the nurses spoke to her, introduced themselves and reassured the patient as much as they could. Katrina then without being asked, using her previous knowledge and experience, went and fetched the patient a small glass of water and some mouth foam swab things. She explained to the patient that 'Nil By Mouth' patients can often experience a dry mouth that if this happens it is helpful to use the swabs to moisten the mouth. Katrina did this without being asked, and this again demonstrates the kindness of the staff; how they go the extra mile to ensure the well-being of the people in their care.  All in a days work. But those small gestures mean so much to someone who is alone and frightened.

I saw a Neurologist who asked me some questions and examined me and tested my reflexes and tickled my feet; and then I saw Doctor Jackson. Doctor Jackson was lovely. Very calm. Very kind. Very reassuring. And able to communicate. Communication is so essential. To clearly communicate, not only to exchange information but to convey feeling or thoughts or ideas. Communication is such a vital skill. And listening is as vital a part of communicating as talking.  Doctor Jackson was warm and humorous but hugely reassuring and quickly imparted a confidence in him.

Having been prescribed some Amitriptyline to complement my Pregabalin I was told I could go home.  And so I went. I packed my bag and called my Dad.  I went through the Hospital, not really giving a hoot that I was wearing my WonderWoman Onesie and Hospital issue Slipper Socks and even though I was feeling much better than I did, I still looked really quite rough. I went with my bag and my stick to the entrance point where Papa collected me and took me home. Home to my cat and hot water bottle.