Tuesday, 11 October 2011


My next visitor was the surgeon in charge of the department. He arrived with two young doctors and was obviously worried. I soon realised why.
He sent one doctor out and the other stood by looking nervous. “My genitals have swelled up,” I said cheerfully. The young doctor looked shy.
“Well they will,” snapped the surgeon. “I didn’t know it was you,” he said.
What could he mean?
“You are the person who wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph about us last year,” he said angrily, his large smooth round jaw thrusting down at me, as I lay there like a smashed turnip. I had to admit that what he said was true.
“What you said was all wrong,” he said. “But we didn’t feel we could reply.”
I asked what had been wrong. I wrote that we were sent home too early. I still believe that. My wound opened when I was at home and I had to rely on community nursing which was pitifully poor.
He said that going home early was all part of a new project to get patients mobile more quickly after an operation. Because of my article, he said, the doctor in charge of that new scheme had decided not to go ahead with it. Well that was news to me, as I certainly landed home very quickly.
I tried to sooth him by saying that the ward certainly seemed much nicer now; the nurses were much more polite.
“This ward has always been good,” he boomed. “Nothing you wrote changed anything. We have won awards.”
Then he said, “The nurses tell me you are tweeting. There is something like that going on.”
It was a great final shot as I lay there feeling beaten and scared. All the staff thought I was up to something, when I wasn’t. My old phone doesn’t know how to tweet.
If he was worried because I, as a journalist had just been readmitted as an emergency, his way of dealing with it was certainly pugnacious. No quiet apology or suggestion of a private room, just jaw out, surgical gloves off. Well I could take it. I have known too many newspaper editors to be surprised by that sort of male behaviour.
When the next nurse came to my bed I asked her if she thought I was tweeting. She stepped back looking surprised then blank. She couldn’t understand enough English to know the word “tweet.” I asked other nurses and got the same result. Later two young English student nurses appeared, real jolly hockey sticks types, very incongruous, like a sudden switch back to 1980 or earlier. When I asked them they laughed and said they knew nothing about it.

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