Seven days in an NHS hospital: Day 5 – “He was punching him in the stomach”

(DAY 1 OF THIS HOSPITAL BLOG STRAND STARTED HERE)

Sunday 25th July

When you twice miss the vein with the needle…

During the night, I woke up to find Michael grappling with a male nurse, trying to push him back with his outstretched hands. The nurse was trying to calm him down by making light of it as if it were a dance. Michael and the male nurse were surrounded by three female nurses and a male security guard trying to calm him down.

I had to go to the toilet. When I came out, the grappling was over. The male nurse was washing his hands and a new security guard was there. He was a stand-in while the night’s main security man had a one-hour break. Michael was back in his bed.

Four or five times during the one-hour break, Michael got up and made a dash for the door of the ward and was silently tussled (reactively – not in an aggressive way) by the security guard.

By the time the main security man came back, Michael was quietly sleeping in his bed.

A bit later on, I was woken by Michael facing-up to the security man who was on his own in the ward. Michael made a lurch at the security man. Michael started punching him in the stomach. There was probably no power behind the punches, but they were still punches.

The security man managed to calm him down by talking to him in a firm but quiet voice.

In the early hours towards dawn, the cancer man asked for and got a double dose of morphine. 

Today, a Sunday, there was no 1-1 nurse care for Michael, just a security guard; there were not enough nurses to spare one full-time to constantly watch over Michael.

The black machine and drip bag on their frame

After the nurses’ shift handover in the morning, I was told that, today, I did not need to have the drips in my arm, but I should drink a lot of water. This made it easier to go to the toilet, because I didn’t have to drag with me the whole wheeled drip apparatus attached to my arm.

Michael was told he could go ‘home’ tomorrow if he allowed them to give him a COVID Rapid Test. At this point he was meek and quietly allowed it.

And for most of the day he was fairly quiet. I figured this was because he had been told he could leave if he behaved. He was fairly quiet. But, mid-afternoon, another possible cause was revealed. He had had diarrhoea all day.

Michael, as most days, was alternating between meekness and aggression but today meekness had the upper hand..

I read a piece in today’s Observer newspaper online:


Pay for nurses and other NHS staff in England will have fallen in real terms by more than 7% since 2010, even if they accept the latest offer from the government, according to new analysis that will fuel rising anger about public sector pay deals.

Figures produced by the TUC show that remuneration for nurses, community nurses, medical secretaries, speech therapists, physiotherapists, paramedics and radiographers will have dropped by between 7.3% and 7.6% in real terms in just over a decade, even after factoring in the 3% rise offered last week.


The nurse in charge of the ward yesterday was telling another nurse that, when she goes home at night, she has to sleep with her legs on five pillows and her head on two pillows. She has a shoulder injury. If she didn’t sleep like that, she said, she wouldn’t be able to come in to work and function properly.

What on earth poor blind Italian Claudio makes of all the current shenanigans in the ward, heaven only knows. Lots of unknown voices around him in a language that he only has a passable not good knowledge of. He has had to learn the words Left, Right and Straight when he is guided by a nurse to the toilet with his Zimmer Frame.

At 4.00pm, Claudio started saying he is going home tomorrow. He isn’t.

He must have picked the idea up from Michael.

And, ironically, Michael has decided that he does not want to leave and go to “that place” tomorrow and is trying and failing to get his brother William on the mobile phone to cancel it.

Michael has now taken to occasionally either curling up on his bed in a foetal position or sitting on the edge of the bed, head bent, gnawing at the fingers of his clenched hand like a caged bear going mad.

Around 6.30pm, after a quiet day, Michael started sniping at other people claiming they were conspiring against him.

At around the same time, there was discussion among the nurses because a Covid non-believer was going to be brought in to a neighbouring part of the ward and had refused to take a Covid swab test before admission. 

One of the nurses said that, although she would, she didn’t really see why she had to look after “people like that”.

Another said: “I’m in the 13-to-24 age group, so I will do it.”

Presumably this is also happening elsewhere in the country and it must put the nurses in a moral quandary – they have to treat all patients even if the people they treat may cause a risk to them by reckless behaviour.

We seem to have two, maybe three security guards tonight.

(CONTINUED HERE…)

1 Comment

Filed under Medical, Psychology

One response to “Seven days in an NHS hospital: Day 5 – “He was punching him in the stomach”

  1. By the time you are out of hospital, you will have the makings of a book, as well as articles on the plight of aggressive/dementia patients in general wards, and the need for translaters and other support for people with disabilities such as blindness when in hospital.
    I hope you are finding this experience more entertaining than horrifying. As a forced audience member you can only watch with a level of distance.
    Hope you are feeling better as th= days pass.

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