My Stage is the World

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive

Oops I did it again

Pink cast for my broken arm24 hours in A&E

So ice-skating is slippery? You’d think, after my excursions in Brussels, that I would have realised this, but no – yet again I found this out the hard way several weeks ago.

I didn’t feel well and was hungry, but didn’t want to miss my lesson.

So I enter the ice hot and bothered with a fuzzy brain.

Practise: turn on one leg, backwards arabesque. Repeat. Blunt skates, rough ice.

A fall, a crack, intense pain and embarrassment.

Left wrist swollen, pale, throbbing. Stand up, dizzy, nauseous and skate off the ice followed by a doctor in the group below me. She declares the arm broken. Ice pack, bed.

Two lovely paramedics provide a sling and water and a ride in the ambulance to Kings College Hospital.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here

Homeless people, hypochondriacs and the lonely gather inside, ignored by all until they’re asked to leave, clutching their possessions, imaginary ailments and life stories close.

I’m bundled inside, my forms lost in the hustle and bustle of A&E, into a waiting room of injured people.

Gunshot and stab victims raid the vending machines, children run riot and nurses take verbal abuse in their stride.

Nobody notices me clutching my skates, swollen arm, pale face until I demand some drugs and sit alone waiting…

…and waiting. Nobody’s moved, people are frustrates and I’m in serious pain. It’s been two hours and I’ve had enough so I ask when I will be seen. Seven people in front of me, two people going in per hour… I’ll never get home!

Journey to the centre of the earth

I act quickly and jump into a taxi in front of the smoking pregnant woman in pursuit of the tube. The driver chats away on his mobile phone and drops me too far from the entrance so I run…

A small girl with a sling is ushered through barriers without a thought and I reach Waterloo… one minute too late.

My luck turns and my train is late so I get on it and get a seat, surrounded by sympathetic people offering me help, love and assistance. Commuters have never been friendlier; I’ve never been so mollycoddled.

Everyone is eager to share their own stories, offering me their number or a lift in case I am stranded in the middle of the night.

A night to remember

At the Royal Surrey the wait is short, yet inpatients steal my X-ray slot and my tears fall as I remember a previous trip for another’s broken arm. Those waiting for relatives comfort me and tell amusing stories to cheer me up.

Around 2am my worst fears are confirmed – one broken wrist, two fractured bones and surgery likely.

There’s nothing for it but to try to get some sleep…

…but that’s a silly idea as my arm has to be half plastered and I have to be swabbed, stabbed and squeezed. The ‘nil by mouth’ sign goes up and at 4am I’m left alone.

Except that the other patients are intent on keeping me awake as one brought in starts to scream and hit out at the nurses who are trying to kill her.

I’ve never felt more alone.

Oh what a beautiful morning

Sleep comes eventually until I’m woken at 6am by the hoover and a nice nurse telling me she’ll sit me up for breakfast… which I’m not allowed because of the possibility of surgery.

Books are brought but I can’t turn the pages so it’s tiring and all I want to do is scream and sleep.

My body is exposed to radiation several more times as I am wheeled around the hospital and a new cast is put on.

Nobody tells me anything and I still don’t know if I’m having surgery.

I’m tired and starving and annoyed that they’ve reduced the amount of morphine in my drip.

Despite my polite frustration I’m still a favourite of the nurses (I’m young and sane), so I do get extra drugs and am promised food once they know more.

At the end of the day

Finally just before visiting hours finish I’m told that surgery won’t be necessary and I can go home.

It’s almost 4pm. I’ve missed three meals and am edgy to say the least.

A wonderful nurse brings me sandwiches, tea and biscuits and I’m so hungry I don’t even mind that it’s fake bread with butter, cheese and tomato which normally I wouldn’t eat.

As I’m discharged and everyone hugs me and waves me goodbye, I have only one thought in my mind:

I’ve definitely got my money’s worth out of the NHS this year!

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