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. However, I also remembered that I could have used someone just to come along and take everything that little bit more slowly, someone who was not impatient to get on to their next “task”, who might… not explain exactly, but who might soften the blow. My wife could have used someone to give her some clue as to what life, from that point, was going to be like. Partners are often forgotten about in our current system.
I volunteered from about 9 months post-stroke. It took me that time to get myself strong enough to leave the house and do something useful. I contacted the 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, a relative had their own health problems, so he dropped out. There were no other volunteers, at least not locally. Helping other people who were in the situation was a no-brainer for me, although other people feel differently – that much is obvious from the numbers. But people can judge for themselves whether they wish to, or are able to, get involved. Probably my politics comes into it, as I believe we should try and help each other when we can.

In any case, I have essentially become that more relaxed person.

The work? Well, you can’t really call talking and listening “work”, can you? That’s all it is, but it seems to add value – something I didn’t really appreciate until I saw it for myself. How could something so small make a difference? I mean, it takes up my time, but until I start working again, that’s something I can easily cope with.

For the nuts and bolts, I go up on my own, and mostly meet up with the charity’s coordinator. She’s a paid employee of the charity, although as you can imagine an employee of a charity is not particularly well-paid, so there must be an element of desire from her side too. This type of work can be both heartbreaking and immensely rewarding.

There has been greater involvement from some of the staff as time has gone by. Every now and again, they have an impetus, I think, to make more use of the volunteer (me). They start off full of enthusiasm, which gradually wanes. It happens in cycles. I never see doctors, 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 a volunteer out talking to patients and families. As we are currently, every time they supply us with a list of people who might use a chat – not everybody is either well enough or interested. This targetted approach makes things quicker for us too, as we no longer just visit every bed (28).

So, at half-past-three, I make my way (another bus) into Salisbury City Centre. This allows me to catch my main bus home. Up until a few years ago, I could get a bus directly home from the hospital, but they canned the service. Public transport is another of my special interests nowadays. The service eventually got re-instated, but actually I prefer to go into Salisbury – it gives me the chance to pick up a few groceries, if necessary.

After my afternoon’s excitement, I will be back home by 5 o’clock. Time enough for a chilled evening. Thursday and Friday are normally my “work” days, when I develop software from home, although tomorrow I am treating myself to Downton Abbey at the cinema. No spoilers, thank you! Salty popcorn – it’s the law!