Seven days in an NHS hospital: Day 3 – The blind Italian and an old obsession

(DAY 1 OF THIS HOSPITAL BLOG STRAND STARTED HERE)

Friday 23rd July

I find I am very attached to the equipment…

A new patient was wheeled in last night and put in General Davide’s former bed. The new patient is Italian and is blind. His name is Claudio. (I have changed all the names in this blog.)

He shouts: “I am blind!”

A nurse replies: “You are blind, not deaf. You don’t need to shout.”

Each patient has different toilet requirements.

When I get out of bed and go to the toilet, I have to disconnect the drip machine from the mains power; it then runs on battery and I re-plug it in when I return. 

At 11.10pm last night, I got up to go the toilet and, half-asleep, ripped the whole plastic tube and needle out of my arm. I went to the toilet. I went back to my bed. Using the torch light on my iPhone. I looked at the bloody torn-flesh gash on my arm.

Then I wanted to go to the toilet again. I did. This time I disconnecting myself from the wall. 

When I opened toilet door to come out again, a bed was being wheeled in through the main doors of the ward.

I saw the haggard face of an old man on it. I think he had a surgical cap on. I think there was a surgeon in attendance and maybe six people round the bed as it was wheeled in. They put him on my side of the ward, two beds away from me.

Later, during the night, Michael got up and started aimlessly, absentmindedly walking around, confused. He went over to the foot of my neighbour’s bed and started rattling the bottom up and down. The young security man in the ward stopped him.

There is now a security guard here 24 hours a day.

Michael wandered off, then turned round and round in tight circles. His face, side-lit in the mostly darkened ward, was uncontrollably distraught and almost in tears. I switch on the recorder in my iPhone.

“I’m going mad,” Michael says. “He’s got money.” (Referring to General Davide) “He can do anything.” A few minutes later, Michael was grappling with a female nurse’s hands. She was trying to control him. “You’re a woman,” he said.

Third time lucky: torn arm, re-inserted tube

About ten minutes later, a young nurse came to re-insert the drip in my arm. She tried to put the needle in the back of my left hand. She tried again. Neither attempt worked but it was very painful. Then she got a more senior nurse to come and the more experienced nurse managed to put it in the back of my left hand at the base of my thumb. 

This must be the rule of thumb – Try to put the needle in twice and, if you fail, call a trained nurse.

A little later, Michael starts saying to a nurse: “You know it’s not fair. You know it’s not bloody fair. He can do what he wants and I can’t do anything.”

He is again talking about Davide. Two nurses are moving Claudio the blind Italian off his bed – with some difficulty – onto a commode chair by the bedside, so he can sit and shit.

“He can do what he wants and I can’t do anything,” Michael repeats, still talking about Davide. “I’m going out of here. I want to get out. It’s not fair. The system’s not fair.”

Claudio the blind Italian shouts out something in Italian.

Michael continues, obsessed: “It’s not fair. You know it’s not fair. He can do what he wants that feller.”

The two nurses have managed to get Claudio the blind Italian, who speaks only rudimentary English, onto the commode.

“Why not,” one of the nurses suggests to Michael, “go to bed and you can sleep?”

“He can do what he wants,” replies Michael, as if accusing the nurse. “You know yourself.” 

Michael continues talking about Davide while Claudio the blind Italian sits and shits.

“You know what it’s like,” Michael says. “He can do anything he wants to do. He’s got money. That’s why. It’s true. I know it. You know it. He has £500,000”

A little later…

“Blanket!” says Claudio the blind Italian.

“You want another blanket?” asks a nurse.

“Yes! “shouts Claudio the blind Italian.

“You say you’re a Christian,” Michael says to the nurse. “You should worry. You know it’s true.”

“We love you,” a nurse tells him, consolingly, “and we are doing the best for you.”

“No, no,” says Michael. “You know what this is. Tell the truth. I hate it here.”

“Don’t say things like that, Michael,” says the nurse gently.

“You know it’s true,” he replies.

“Can I do your temperature?” asks the nurse, gently.

“Oh!” snaps Michael. “That’s all you care about! I hear that every night, near enough now. You know what this is!”

“Sit down and let me check your sugar level,” says the nurse.

“No. Let’s get going.”

“You are safe in here…”

Michael wanders off to the other end of the ward.

A little later, there were loud yells of agony from the man in the next bed to me. 

He has cancer. 

They give him a lot of morphine. 

The handover between the nursing night and day shifts takes place in middle of the ward at around 7.30-8.00am and all patients can hear it.

The plan for the man with cancer next to me has been to take him for preliminary radiotherapy at a larger hospital at 10.00am but this morning the hospital’s Transport Dept said they can’t take him until noon.

The new supervising nurse, coming on shift, asks: “Has the appointment moved?”

The nurse going off shift says: “It is still at 10.15. You will have to keeping phoning up and pestering to try to get them to collect him before noon.”

Michael still has a female nurse looking after him 24 hours a day in case he does something silly; and there is still a hospital security man there 24 hours a day making sure he does nothing dangerous.

In the online edition of the Guardian this morning, I read:


Ministers are forcing the NHS to cover part of the cost of its 3% staff pay rise in a move which health service chiefs say could lead to cuts in patient care.

The NHS in England will have to find about £500 million to help fund the 3% increase that the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Wednesday, despite already struggling to meet the extra costs of the pandemic, including the care backlog and treatment for the soaring numbers of people with ‘long Covid’.

Ministers are also facing mounting anger from the medical profession after it emerged that tens of thousands of doctors have been excluded from the 3% deal, despite the government’s advisers on NHS pay specifically recommending that they also be rewarded for helping to tackle Covid-19.

Traditionally, the Treasury meets the full cost of annual pay rises for NHS personnel. However, Boris Johnson has decided that the service will have to help shoulder at least part of the bill for the 3% uplift, payable to more than a million staff for 2021-22 and backdated to April.


My Calcium Man and his two junior doctors come to see me.

My calcium level is down to near but still not perfect normal. My kidneys have not quite recovered as well. One has slight damage, I think. I am not absolutely sure. It is all a bit vague.

I am seeing the Kidney Man this afternoon.

The Calcium Man says I will be on a continuous drip all weekend.

As he and his two junior doctors turn and walk away, suddenly a loud alarm goes off, seemingly in the ceiling of the ward. Almost immediately, there are doctors and nurses everywhere and a heart resuscitator is brought in – for the man two beds away from me who, sometime in the last few days, swallowed his false teeth and they went into his lungs. 

A crowd of doctors and nurses look on, as if round a car crash; just observers.

The man’s heart is restarted.

A little later, Michael and his new Sikh security guard start talking about religion.

Later still, two ambulance men are in the ward with a bed on wheels – for the man with cancer in the bed next to me. The ambulance man is telling a nurse that he knows someone (not an ambulance man) who is getting a £33,000 pay rise.

A little later, one of my Calcium Man’s junior doctors comes back in to ask some more questions. She tells me Junior Doctors will get no pay rise. But, she says, nurses deserve anything they get. 

Yes indeed they do.

At lunchtime, an older security man tells a younger one about the best physical moves to take when attacked by a patient.

The Tokyo ‘2020’ Olympics have started. Just like the Euro Football Championships, because of the delay caused by the pandemic lockdowns, 2021 is still called 2020. Future generations will be numerically confused.

I am now not seeing the Kidney Man today. 

I am told, if my kidneys don’t get better, he will see me as an outpatient and maybe arrange a kidney biopsy. I will also be given another PETscan at another hospital – I had one last year. That’s the one where they put radioactive stuff in my blood and watch it go round.

I am told the hospital has started my discharge process but that doesn’t mean I’m getting out today.

They are putting me on a constant drip but – because of weekend – the earliest I can imagine anything happening is Monday or Tuesday. The main medical men don’t work weekends.

Michael is lying on his bed literally praying to God for help.

“Please God, help me. Dear God, help me…” he mutters, lying curled in a foetal position.

He refuses to allow a nurse to put in the eye drops the doctors have prescribed for him and, as normal, starts getting fully manic around 8.15pm, just after the change in nursing shifts.

(CONTINUED HERE…)

1 Comment

Filed under Medical, Psychology

One response to “Seven days in an NHS hospital: Day 3 – The blind Italian and an old obsession

  1. Martin

    There is more! MORE!! ?

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