Just over 15 months ago I was having my son at the Whittington Hospital in North London. It was a bit of a traumatic experience (I wrote about it here) but on the 7th November 2013, I was being genuinely and tenderly cared for by a big group of strangers, all of whom were truly invested in trying to ease the nightmare experience I was having. I think there were around 10 people in the room if I recall correctly – a mixture of Doctors and Nurses – and all of them were doing their individual bit to try and smooth over the experience and move it along with minimal damage. One Nurse was there purely to comfort me and all I remember her doing is asking me if I wanted her to wet my lips with water every few minutes (I wasn’t allowed a drink as at that point it was unclear whether I’d need a general anaesthetic) and in my hazy state I could tell that she felt that her role was every bit as important as everyone else’s in the room – which it clearly was since she’s the one I always remember.
Along came Teddy and I ended up staying in hospital for five more days, four of which I was given a private room for. It’s also noteworthy that I was given a scan pretty much as regularly as I required during my pregnancy; an experience I used to really look forward to since the staff were amazing and I could help myself to tea and coffee whilst I waited for my appointment. There’d also be sandwiches at lunchtime and toast if you requested it. It was a lovely and warm environment where you were greeted like an old friend, and I remember it so fondly. From pretty much the moment I realised I was pregnant, I felt deeply cared for by everyone involved in what was a bit of a unique pregnancy since I have a disability and nobody really knew how it was going to turn out with regards to the heavier months and the birth itself. It was all fine, I was at Brent Cross on the 6th November freaking people out when they’d ask when I was due, and I’d answer “tomorrow”…
I’ve also had two terrifying cancer scares recently – I promise to stop banging on about them soon – but both experiences have left me with such a fondness for the NHS and all the amazing staff who are part of it. I have to say, having experienced quite a few different hospitals in my life time, the Whittington is by far my favourite as it seems that pretty much everyone who works there is lovely, but my cervical cancer scare was all played out at Barnet, and the nurse who gave me my Colposcopy was amazing; she phoned me beforehand to try and give me some reassurance and she also phoned me when my biopsy results were in just over a week later to talk them through with me.
I very much doubt I could’ve got better treatment privately with all three of these examples. All three of these experiences have been extremely personal, involving a mix of either lying bottomless on a table with my legs apart in a room full of strangers, invasive cervical examinations or having my breasts felt for lumps by various strangers. Stuff like this makes me very nervous but all the people who were involved in these procedures were incredible; they obviously cared, were very kind and put me at complete and total ease. I just wanted to share a few of my NHS experiences because we often hear about the horrors that occur, but rarely do we get to share the positives. I’m so grateful for everyone who’s helped me at Barnet and Whittington and I am so, so grateful for the NHS.
I promise to go back to talking about lipstick now.