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Jim Blog

The Good Day (Part 1)

Being an adult with a congenital heart defect, it is inevitable that a visit to the hospital as an in-patient will be on the cards. I’ve had a few admissions over the last few years and as with life in general, there are good days and there are bad days. This is one of the good days.

I wake about 06:30 to the sound of the weighing chair being crashed through the door by one of the Health Care Assistants. “I need to take your weight, sir”, he says very politely. I carefully clamber out of the bed. I don’t want a fall at this stage. Getting into the chair, I wake up a bit more because it’s quite cold. In fact, it’s freezing !  “Thank you”, he says, recording the weight. “What is it today ?”, I ask. “81 kilos.” Grand. That’s a total of 9 kilos lost since I came in for this visit and most of that was excess fluid. I gingerly get back into bed to go back asleep. It’ll be at least an hour before breakfast comes around. I dose off for a while but the hubbub of the ward wakes me again. The trolleys with the fresh bed linen coming in, the kitchen staff chatting as they prepare the breakfast, the HCAs and nurses leaving after a long night shift and the HCAs and nurses arriving to God knows what faces them on the ward today. The sounds are strangely reassuring.

Breakfast arrives. “Here you go, son,” says the ever-cheerful kitchen lady. Thanking her, I look at my tray. Rice Krispies and orange juice. Ugh…the juice is warm. No worries. I gobble it all down. I have certainly regained my appetite. Not long after breakfast, the nurse comes in with the medication. As I am isolated in my own room, the nurse must gown-up before she comes in. She’s halfway through the door when she realises this and backs up. Gown on she comes in to give me my meds. Taking the little plastic cup from her, I ask her exactly what is in the container. This is not me being awkward, I’m on so much medication, I need to know precisely what I’m getting. Is it all my usual medication ? Has anything been left out ? Have any of the dosages changed ? Is there anything extra, new or different such as antibiotics, potassium or iron supplements ? Being a patient, with any medical issue, either in hospital or at home, I believe that it is critical that everyone knows what they are taking and why. Tablets done, we have a brief chat and a giggle and then she is off to look after the other patients.

Almost immediately, one of the phlebotomists comes in to take the bloods. Having bad veins, I think to myself, here we go, but this morning my veins co-operate. They are done. First attempt. I can’t believe it ! Result !

Most of the action that happens on the ward, does so in the morning. The Doctor and Chief Cardiac nurse come in for a chat. Infection markers, down. Kidney, liver and of course heart function all improved. They both listen in with the stethoscope. First the heart and then they listen in through the back to the lungs. Breath in…and out…and in…and out. The lungs sound clear. No fluid build-up. Brilliant. Advanced Nurse Practitioner Rhona Savage and Professor Kevin Walsh. Of all the medical staff in the Mater, when they walk into the room, I feel at my most reassured and safe. I owe them both my life and more than once. I know them most of my adult life and without them, well, you wouldn’t be reading this. Gratiam sempitermus.

Shortly after that, a nurse comes in with some towels and encourages me to have a bit of a wash. Although I am feeling better, I’m still quite sore and exhausted. The nurse says she’ll change the bed while I shower. I motivate myself to go into the shower. Coming out of the bathroom a few minutes later, the nurse and one of the HCAs finish off the bed. I thank them both, lie on the bed, tired after the shower and doze off feeling and smelling clean and fresh. It’s only just gone 10 AM….

Be kind to yourself. 

Jim Blog
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