This past week has seen some scary developments in my life, and an incident that was frightening and interesting at the same time.
I have been ill with what appeared to be a UTI related complaint and it started last week Monday. By Wednesday I felt that I really needed to see a doctor and following tests I was prescribed antibiotics. However, the weekend was a roller coaster of fevers, chills, and general malaise and I was still feeling poorly by Monday and phoned the doctor on Tuesday. After examining me I was advised to go to the A&E at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done due to transport limitations. An ambulance was called for me and I barely got home in time when they arrived. I was then taken to the hospital, arriving just before 17H00.
Due to the covid-19 protocol face masks were mandatory, and everybody was well hidden behind their masks, but there was a brisk efficiency about the place. After being tested for covid-19 I had blood taken and a chest x-ray. A doctor examined me and they decided to admit me after starting an intravenous drip. That was somewhat of a surprise, but I was in trouble at that point and until we knew what was causing my problems all that we could do. So up to the 9th floor, we went and after being allocated a bed I was plugged into more antibiotics, an ECG was taken and I was settled in for what was to be a long night. In my disorganised rush to pack a bag I had left out the important stuff and my decongestant was one of them. Breathing was difficult because of the mask, blocked nose, and fogged up glasses. I also had the pillow from hell and spent a restless night counting minutes and fighting the pillow. No sleep was had.
The next morning, after a breakfast of what may have been cardboard and milk the doctor arrived. The tests had revealed no obvious cause of the problem and the antibiotics had made me feel very much better although I still felt wobbly at the knees. Outside it looked cold and wet and the view was not exactly inspiring as you can see below.
Then the long wait started; at that point, I was told I was going to be moved to the 7th floor and that was changed to being moved to the discharge lounge. There are limited ways to get to Tewkesbury from Gloucester so I really needed to be aware of the timing. A sign in the discharge lounge stated that there was a 2-3 hour wait for medication and if I ended up waiting too long there was a chance that I would miss the last bus back home. In my chaotic bag packing I had neglected to pack cash but fortunately had my bank card with me if I needed to call a taxi. Eventually, just after 2.30, I left, clutching more antibiotics and hoping to get to the bus station in time to catch either the 14H45 or 16H00 bus. The last time I had been in Gloucester was in 2018 and they had been seemingly endlessly working on the bus station so hopefully, by now that had been completed. I never really understood the orientation of the bus station relative to the town and station so I was also stumbling into the dark. On the image above you can see the railway line running from left to right with the tip of the platform on the right. The bump in the background is called Robinswood Hill.
As I walked out the driveway of the hospital I was finally able to see the place completely and naturally, I took a pic or 2. The ward where I spent the night was on the right-hand side of the building on the top floor and was behind one of those pairs of triple windows.
The hospital is a sprawling complex hospital that was rebuilt in the 1960s and eventually incorporated a new 11-storey tower, the work on which started in 1970 and was completed in1975. You can see the age of the building on the inside, it has a certain institutionalised look about that was common to construction around then. What really ticked me pink though was the toilet on the ward. When last did you see a toilet with a cistern and pull chain? Mr Crapper would be proud. The toilet is not dirty though, it is just marked by limescale and age.
The walk to the bus station is not a long one but naturally, I missed the 14.45 bus. That gave me an hour to have a snack and frankly I was hungry. The new bus station looks kinda snazzy but its a cold clinical place.
Note the social distancing markers on the floor: they are the reality of how things are at the moment with the covid raging. The town is much quieter than I can remember it, and many business are still closed, and there is a definite feel of desolation here, although just maybe I was feeling maudlin or something. I passed the time reading my kindle (thank goodness I had remembered to pack it) until the bus arrived and I was back home by 17H00. I had to smile as I took in the chaotic heaps I had left behind in my rush to get ready for the ambulance collection. Had I had more time I probably would have made a better job of my preparations, but I was rushed and my brain was sluggish on Tuesday, and hopefully I am now on the mend. The test results did not show anything abnormal, and thankfully the covid swab was also negative. But I do not know whether this is a short reprieve I am having or the start of another long journey that I must undertake. Time will tell I guess.
In all my dealings with the staff at the hospital, I was met with professionalism and courtesy. The staff were amazing and I was very surprised. The two paramedics were professional and caring and the poor harassed doctor took it all in his stride. Their working conditions must be extraordinarily difficult at the moment, but they are doing their best. I wore a mask for 2 days and it was incredibly difficult to deal with especially if you wear glasses and suffer from xerostomia. They go through this very working day. I do find that the disposable masks are much more comfortable than the cloth masks that are being sold and I need to replenish my stash. I also need to make up a proper emergency bag for the future and have a checklist nearby.
The one person that I can thank the most lives in Staffordshire and I met him way back in 1981 in the army. He is a tower of strength and was prepared to drive down to Gloucestershire to help. I sincerely hope that things do not reach the stage where he has to make some long-distance calls on my behalf.
And that was my July so far. I have 14 days worth of antibiotics and had a good night’s sleep. Let us hope that it only gets better from here.
DRW 2020. Created 09/07/2020