I’m grateful for the NHS

Some years ago I had lunch with a new acquaintance called Rhona. Throughout our three courses I was given a detailed account of her bowel operation, and an itemised list of the debris recovered by surgeons therein. I’m ashamed to say that I was completely unsympathetic and made sure I was never available for lunch again. In mitigation, I was someone who had enjoyed a perfect bill of health and was therefore oblivious to one of the fundamental facts of life, which is that there is no subject in the world more riveting than one’s own medical procedure.

I’ve written before about Ryton Dental Practice and their grey colour scheme.  Thank goodness they’ve got rid of it, or at least toned it down.  I had a brush with them (no pun intended) a couple of months ago when I fell off my bike and asked them to check my front teeth.  An Xray revealed no permanent damage, but uncovered something nasty within the recesses of my jaw which would require further investigation at the dental hospital.  They in turn referred me to the Maxillofacial Unit, a department I’m familiar with having been a patient with them a few years ago.  I remember coming around from the anesthetic and declaring, “We should never have sold Matthew Upson.” 

Anyway, it was decreed that the something nasty needed to come out and that a hospital admission would be required.  When I was working I would have thrilled to this news, the word admission equating to the word holiday.  Now it was a major pain in the behind.  “Can we not just wait until it hurts?” I pleaded.  Apparently not.  So two weeks past Tuesday I walked into the RVI at 7am, all under my own steam, a vision of glowing health. 

When you’re feeling well, you can’t imagine feeling unwell, and indeed vice versa, so I hadn’t bothered cancelling any of the arrangements I’d made for the following weekend.  I skipped into the ward, put on my gown (the wrong way round) and settled myself on top of the bed with my newspaper.  At 10am I was escorted to the theatre, and chatted brightly to the anesthetist about the police service, retirement, and Newcastle United.  Seconds later (in fact it was two hours) I heard my name being called and I remember thinking, “You really have gone too far this time.”  I struggled to recall which particular night out I was recovering from.  Whatever it was, it must have been something big.  As the voices around me were strange, I assumed I must have fallen asleep in the bus station.

The NHS wades through much criticism.  Many years ago I was on holiday in Corfu. Just before we arrived, a gentleman staying at our hotel suffered a heart attack and he was seriously ill in hospital on the island.  His wife joined us for breakfast several mornings. She spent every day at her husband’s bedside, a bedside situated in a busy corridor. She carried out nursing duties, never returning to her room before midnight, and constantly fretting about money and insurance cover. It made me realise how much we take the NHS for granted.  My operation must have cost at least a couple of thousand quid, and the length of time from diagnosis to treatment was roughly three months. No complaints from me.

Parents should never place bets for their offspring, the ‘Over 18’ rule is there for a reason. If a child loses they will be upset, a win will make them greedy.  To place a bet for a child should never be countenanced, not by a parent.  However Heather and I are aunties not parents, so for us, the rule doesn’t apply. We’ve been to see Newcastle’s away fixture at Hillsborough.  Our nephew lives in Sheffield and is a Sheffield Wednesday fan, so 5.30pm last Saturday saw us sitting in a sea of blue and white in the North Stand.  It’s a proper old-fashioned ground, I like it much more than St. Jame’s Park, The Emirates, the Stadium of Light, or even Wembley.  It’s famous for the wrong reasons, but a lovely friendly atmosphere and a great evening despite Heather’s long face over the result.  To add to her chagrin, our nephew won £36 on the bet she put on for him!

At the end of the match eleven year old Seb and I stood outside the players’ entrance to see if he could get his programme signed.  Most of the Sheffield Wednesday players stopped. Most (not all) of the NUFC team did not.  It’s not as if they were going anywhere. Their coach was parked up and being loaded, so rather than spending twenty minutes waiting in their stationary vehicle, could they not have used the time obliging the owners of outstretched little hands?