I come face-to-face with Miss Trunchbull and it leads to a 999 call

Illustration: Quentin Blake

The daytime nurse (or some rank – he acted like a nurse) was
a man named Chris who had tattoos on his upper arms. I noticed because they
peeked out from his short-sleeved uniform, the kind with epaulets on the

I watched him go about his rounds – more blood pressure and
finger pricks and medicine all around, except I was exempt.

I watched the curtains being drawn for the privacy of bed
baths, beds clothes changed, pillows plumped and the arrival of the tower of
food – the breakfast trays. Again, I was exempt. Except a junior doctor came
and looked at me and pronounced me alive.

I suddenly felt I was being left out – like all this morning
activity was taking place and I was just a spectator. So I took stock of my
presence on the planet: no, I wasn’t on the ceiling looking over such a scene like
happens in near-death scenes in the movies. I swallowed and got a taste of sore
throat, which understandable given the surgery on my neck. I tried to move
myself up in the bed with limited success. And finally, I managed to squeak my
voice (such as it is) to get the nurse’s attention. After 45 minutes of
watching I wanted to know when it’s my turn. That’s when Chris turned the physio on me.

Of all the people I came to face with was the hospital’s
chief physio, the wide-body version of a physical fitness instructor who had
featured in an earlier instalment of my blog. She didn’t do me any harm, but
she represents health and safety fascists that tried to keep me in the hospital
the first time around. She had appeared in a hospital magazine forcing an
elderly woman to exercise while she digested the dozen doughnuts she had for
breakfast. I mean, would you let this woman front your physical fitness image?
Miss Trunchbull would be a better candidate.

Illustration: Quentin Blake

At least she could throw a child by her pigtails in the style of a hammer throw.

Roald Dahl would appreciate the

She had no idea I’d taken the piss out of her as I’m certain
blogs by people who have run into physios is not on her reading list. She attempted to get me to sit up straight without success. I mouthed some words about the sheets wouldn’t let me and she said “try,” and I couldn’t communicate the sheets were holding me down. I used the word aphasia on her and it didn’t
register, or maybe she didn’t understand. Or maybe some people just don’t
understand that term; it was six months after my stroke before I heard the term
used by a health professional. Anyway she and a gangly guy who worked with her,
frogmarched me upright. She checked that I could reach everything, making it a
show and tell task, and then left me alone and moved on the next victim.

Now I firmly upright, I saw the breakfast trays being hauled
away and I tried to get the nurse’s attention but the damn anaesthesia effect
took over and I was off to never-never land.

I woke around noon and could smell lunch in some form, the
smell indicated nourishment despite what you have heard about hospital food. It
is Tuesday. The operation was on Monday and I hadn’t eaten since Sunday night (so
I didn’t ralph during the operation) and now the hunger was getting desperate. A
hypo is what we Type 2 diabetics call it – low blood sugar. Lord knows what they
did with all the finger pricking tests results. That should have told them

I waved to a passing nurse, probably one of the pirate’s (being held in the back)
guards, and she blanked me.

Slowly I formed a complete sentence – “I need something to eat”
– and directed it at all manner of hospital staff who passed by my aisle bed, all
of whom blanked me, probably thinking I was some deranged person with a speech
impediment, albeit quieter than the pirate.

Things were getting worse.

I imagined the red-top headlines: Fury as NHS staff allow patient
to starve to death on ward.

Then, somehow, half-hanging off the side of my bed, I caught
the attention of the nurse who worked opposite me, the one with patient 22. She
saw something in my gaze and reacted quickly calling for this and that while
rushing to my side. Others followed.

Looking at it from her viewpoint here was a person who was
slurring his speech; had trouble lifting their arms and coordinating signals
with his arms; had difficulty swallowing; one side of his face was numb causing
the mouth to droop. Can you guess what she thought was wrong with me?

She thought I was having a stroke.

Well spotted, but no – I need something to eat.


3 responses to “I come face-to-face with Miss Trunchbull and it leads to a 999 call

  1. At least you were in eye shot of a nurse. Mainly I recall the endless ringing of the bell that goes off when you squeeze the button pinned to the pillow, and ringing and ringing. You start to think you are alone on the planet.

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