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.


  1. I’m with you, especially after what my wife has been experiencing with medical “specialists”. She loves her GP who actually listens to what she to say…..on the other hand specialists. She says they are like used car salesman. They talk so fast she cannot follow what they are saying and gets more confused. They show no empathy and are very flat in their speech. It’s great that you are giving back to the hospital community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, this is an area where I tend to go off-piste with the charity. Looking back, the therapy in the hospital was excellent – an hour a day. Doesn’t seem like much but it’s probably as much as we can take at that point in time. It got me walking again. But that all just stopped once I left the hospital, really. I say things like “take as much as you can when you’re in a hospital, because it dries up once you’re out”, and I see the look I get! The charity tell me that it has improved in the three years since I was in, but I look around me every day…nothing else has improved!
      Your wife is lucky that she has a GP she can get on with, that helps. I always got on with my GP too but they changed all my meds after the stroke, so I’m not sure how good he is. But I’m a lot more pro-active myself now anyway, I tend to use the surgery for blood tests, and do the rest myself. But to get to that point I’ve had to gen up a lot, knowledge that I never bothered with before.
      Ultimately they never found out what caused my stroke (I had the same experience of specialists!), and it took a long time to come to terms with that. I thought I was only ever five minutes away from the next one. If it happened once, what’s to stop it happening again? I got past that in the end by concluding that the risk is there for all of us, and the only reason we don’t get stressed about it is just ‘cos we put it out of our minds.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, one out-of-the-ordinary thing *did* happen yesterday. When I visited a month ago, a name caught my eye. It was only a name I’d met once or twice, even then for just five minutes, five years ago. It was the name of a solicitor (lawyer) I used when I drew up my will. But the name must’ve stuck somehow, and I recognised that same name on my list. So I wondered if it belonged to the same person. That would have been strange because she’d lave only been about my age, but there again, that didn’t stop it happening to me. I met this woman and her partner but wasn’t sure. She’d have been suited and booted when I met her, but hospital makes people look like shit! I met the partner again yesterday and asked him directly. It was the same person.
    How do you convey to someone that although they see their partner lying in a hospital bed, there is hope for the future? That underneath all this, their intellect is most likely intact…but that there’s a long recovery ahead? I use myself as an example, but at the same time I am wary of Stroke #101 – that every stroke is different.
    I suppose there are lessons in this for me. The longer I do this gig, the higher the possibility of meeting not just an acquaintance, but of meeting a friend or neighbour. Life has such a wicked sense of irony.

    Liked by 1 person

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