D’oh, I mean diary, honest!

As I have just moved to WordPress, I thought I would briefly share what I will get up to today.

Every other Wednesday, I go visit the ward where I was once a patient. So I’ll have lunch and will trot out to the bus stop (I no longer drive…yet) into my local city of Salisbury, UK.

One of my observations from the hospital was that everybody runs around at 100 mph, and I could have used someone just to come along and take it a bit more slowly, someone who was not impatient to get on to their next task, who might… not explain exactly, but who might have helped me to understand.

Not to mention, my wife could have used someone to give her some clue as to what life possibly had in store. Partners are often forgotten about in our health system.

I started volunteering from about 9 months post-stroke. It took me that long to get myself strong enough to leave the house. I contacted the stroke charity and asked how I could help, and they suggested the ward visits. At that time there were two of us, but the other guy dropped out not long afterwards – I suspect he was looking for a way out then I came along, but no matter. There were no other volunteers locally. It is strange that so many people suffer strokes (there are an estimated 2M survivors in a population of around 80M), or know someone who suffered a stroke, but there are so few volunteers – to me it was a no-brainer. Probably my politics comes into it, stronger together, yada yada, we help each other if we can.

Anyhow, I have essentially become that person who can talk things through a little more slowly.

The work? Well, you can’t really call talking and listening “work”. Chatting to people seems trivial, but it does appear to be appreciated. How can something so small make a difference? I struggled with that one myself, at first.

So, I go up on my own, and mostly meet up with the charity’s coordinator. She’s a paid employee of the charity. She does home visits etc., advises on things like benefits, plus this hospital visit.

The staff involvement is variable. Sometimes, somebody will have this “new” idea of closer co-operation. They start with a wave of enthusiasm, which, over time, peters out. And staff change quite frequently- the last initiative stalled when the main staff member went on maternity leave.

I never see doctors (who are around in the mornings but not afternoons), and I mostly don’t recognise the nurses – that’s a combination of my eyesight and that they tend to change frequently. A nurse will often be hired for a particular shift on a particular ward. The hospital has to pay more that way, but they can’t recruit permanent staff.

The people I know best are therapists, the people who spend time with patients, trying to get some guy moving or another guy talking. These are the people who realise that it can be useful to have somebody talking to patients/relatives. As we are currently, every time we visit they supply us with a list of people who could use a chat – not everybody is well enough or interested – it is common for new stroke patients not to want to engage. I suppose it is natural, but hospital is the place where people get the most help, it really is all downhill from there, so it is a pity that people don’t realise this and don’t therefore get what they can.

Anyway, this targetted approach makes things quicker for us too, as we no longer just visit every bed (28), although the cost of that is that we see every person that the therapists feel warrants a visit, rather than every patient, period.

At the end of the visit, half-past-three, I’m back on the bus again to come home. In fact, it is two buses – I get the bus into Salisbury, then get the bus back out to home. I did that originally because they cut the bus service, but even though they later reinstated it after protests, going into Salisbury is handy if I want to pick up groceries.

So, after all his excitement, I will be back home by 5 o’clock, time enough for a chilled evening. I’m out of the house about 4 hours, to ultimately spend about 1½ hours on the ward. I have a lot of “wasted” time these days.

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