Press 6 for Ebola

It hadn’t been the best of weeks. Suddenly everything started to catch up with me last weekend and I felt things starting to unravel. Every time I paused for breath there was an email to reply to, washing to do, dinner to make, dogs to be walked.

It lifted last night. My 12 year old harp/greyhound shifting Audi estate workhorse sailed through its MOT for the first time since I’ve had it. It’s pushing 180,000 miles on the clock, but it’s still a joy to drive and the thought of replacing it is just too much to bear at the moment. Other, shinier things beckon constantly, but for now I have no funds and even less desire to change car. I squealed with joy in the garage when they told me it was all going to be OK. I can’t tell you how relieved I was.

And then very early this morning, just for a few hours, things were very wrong again.

My boyfriend R was in agony next to me and things were getting worse and worse. I rang NHS24 for help. We ignored the option to press 6 if I/he had recently returned from West Africa, which made both of us smile for a moment. A few questions and answers followed, accompanied by more painful yelps, and then we were directed to an out of hours GP service at the local hospital. He was seen quickly, thoroughly attended to and then passed on to another hospital for more tests.

He’d barely got changed before a cheerful nurse arrived with a trolley. “Ah’m here to do your ECG, pal.”

This made me smile, as in my head I still expect people to speak with an Essex accent and use the word “mate” not “pal”

I clearly remember the first time I used “pal” without even thinking, just as I now occasionally say “Aye” or “Aye right!” or “ragin’” or “Naw!”

“Ah’ll be quick as a can pal, as a don’t wan’tae miss ma bus” she joked, as another nurse appeared because the machine was playing up a little.

His ridiculously low heart rate was a source of much curiosity for everyone, as they are more used to dealing with considerably less healthy members of the public. At that very point in time, he was hardly the best advert for long distance running as a life-prolonging activity, but everyone was in awe of what he does/we do with our spare time, and they were keen to make sure that everything was alright.

Needles were put in, which rather elevated the low heart rate. A chest X-ray was done. And then, almost as swiftly as we’d arrived, we were on our way again, everything fine and nothing to worry about.

In the space of three and a half hours, we’d dealt with three separate parts of the NHS, in three different locations.

The standard of care was excellent, and I felt so angry that all we read about is the bad news about our health service. For those few desperately worrying hours, we felt as though we were the only ones that mattered, even though we certainly weren’t the only ones being treated in the hospital today. The doctors addressed both of us. I wasn’t left out of anything, or asked to wait separately. Admittedly we arrived very early in the day, which will have had an effect on our waiting time, but I was amazed at how quickly and smoothly everything progressed.

As we waited, I had time to appreciate everything we had and that was being done for us. We were safe, warm, had access to excellent, free medical care, and we were being so well looked after. I’d been able to get us to the hospital/s quickly and safely. Normally, we fight like cat and dog a large proportion of the time, but this morning we were together and the only thing that mattered was that he was alright, and if he wasn’t, I was with him.

It was 10am when I finally got my first mug of tea today. I was less than impressed about that.


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