Friday, February 18, 2011

Hospital Patience

I was in hospital this week for a very minor operation, a cyst removal that took all of five minutes, and didn’t even hurt, but it made me think about how the experience is now compared to several decades ago.

Preston Royal Infirmary 1960
Image Lancashire Evening Post
When I was about 18 I got a splinter of metal in one eye, I was working as an apprentice at the time, “Better go and get that seen to lad”, so off I went to Preston Royal Infirmary, just a 5 mile bus ride away.
Once in the emergency waiting room I sat on the first empty chair. In front of me was several rows of chairs each row filled with about 15 people in various states of misery.
“Next” a nurse shouted and the person on the right hand end of the front row stood up and went to the nurse, the rest of us shuffled along to the next seat. What a relief, after a couple of hours and shuffling from seat to seat, to find myelf in the “Next” position.

In fairness once I got in medical hands they treated me kindly and got the splinter out quite fast and with little discomfort.

Now we walk in the emergency section of the hospital and in minutes are being interviewed by a very tired triage  nurse who asks lots of questions suffers no interruptions takes a record of all vital signs and sends us off to the left if its critical or to the right if its routine.
Once inside however the door locks behind you, and you wait in a corridor where all the washrooms are for staff only!
Again once the medical staff get you they fixed you up in no time.

Sometimes even visitors have to dress up.
And then there are medical gowns!
The last time I had a minor operation the nurse told me to “ Go into that cubicle, remove your shirt  and put on this gown the opening to the back” I thought "Well I’m not taking my pants off" so I stood in the waiting area removed my shirt and had the gown on in no time much to the horror of the nurse who must have never seen a naked chest before.
Now the protocol has improved, they hand you a plastic bag to hold your clothes and two gowns the inner one to be worn with the opening to the back and the outer with the opening to front, this time I did as I was told.
Only to have everything removed by the Surgeon so she could get at my chest.
Still made no sense to me.

A few weeks ago I had my annual cardiac stress test, and again the gown problem.
“Take of your shirt I’m going to fasten all these probes to your chest” after that it’s onto the tread mill and walk fast and uphill for several minutes. Afterwards the probes get removed and the technician says “that is all I will leave you in private to get dressed” and she left the room discreetly closing the door behind her. I thought ‘Why do I need privacy to don a shirt, when I’ve been topless for the last 15 minutes?”

One day I’ll learn to just do as I’m told and question nothing!


  1. Can't imagine that one day you will question NOTHING!! Nice blog. My view of both hospitals and doctors is to keep clear of both as long as you can.

  2. Oh, you remember the day when the doctor came to the house? There are some things that I prefer not to remember..the (excuse me) enema for a broken toe or a sore throat. Maybe that never happened to you...the dreaded E after Dr.Phillips left..what can I say?
    Hope that you are both doing well and looking forward to a beautiful spring.

  3. lucky not to have had the "dreaded E" but can definitely remember home visits by the Dr.
    My Dad told us he had his tonsils removed in the home kitchen.
    Didn't say which knife they used though!