Jaqui's Daily Blog

There is something very special about being the One Looked After. Especially when you are usually the one doing the caring...


I have had the immense pleasure of being looked after by a succession of nurses during my recovery, each of them with his / her own particular brand of care. I have felt, quite literally, surrounded by love.


The Youngest of the Darling Daughters arguably had the toughest job, taking first shift on the Family Nursing Rota, when I was at my most vulnerable. She was particularly good at somehow knowing when I couldn’t sleep, turning up in the bedroom (she gave up her bed for me on the basis that it was (i) the most comfortable and (ii) near enough the en suite bathroom for me to totter there on unsteady legs several times a night) to give me a careful hug and mop up my foolish tears.


The Middle of the Darling Daughters took over as Nurse in Charge, putting in two separate shifts on the family Mum Rota and demonstrating excellent organisational skills as she made appointments, sorted problems, cooked delicious meals, and drew up detailed schedules for my medication, meals for Mr B and me, and forthcoming events. My life has never been so organised.


My Boy, on his weekend on duty, not only shopped, prepared meals and carried out the general nursing duties as per the lists left for him by his sister, but also found time to sort out a technological issue involving my new IPhone, caused (apparently) by the fact that I had somehow managed to create another version of myself, alongside my original persona. No wonder I was feeling a little odd..


Next week the Eldest of the Darling Daughters arrives, accompanied by granddaughter Eleanor, and I have been asked to compile a list of Things That Need Doing. I am endeavouring to create a list not solely comprising boring necessities, but also some fun, Christmas Related Tasks. As a patient, I like to keep my nurses entertained.


It would be remiss of me, however, not to pay a particular tribute to my Little Sister, Nurse Maggie, whose unorthodox approaches to nursing caused us much hilarity over the five days she was Matron and certainly aided my recovery no end.


We had a discussion via FaceTime before she arrived where I reassured her that, provided she looked after me as well as she cared for her dolls when she was a child, she couldn’t go wrong. We tried to remember those long-gone dolls and eventually decided that I should be Susan. We both recalled that Susan was her favourite and that she had very loose, droopy legs. In those days, some of you may be old enough to remember, dolls were held together by an internal elastic band which was attached to the head, then threaded through the body and hooked up with the arms and legs. Susan’s elastic band was Very Stretchy, hence her dangling legs. Possibly Susan was loved even more by her “mother” as a result of her infirmity.


If Nurse Maggie had been daunted by the detailed instructions for my care which had been left for her by the M of the DDs, she did not show it. She arrived at my bedroom door first thing in the morning, carrying a mug of coffee (as per instructions) - then proceeded to jump into bed with me where we giggled through the best part of an hour of sweet reminiscences of our Shared Childhood. Needless to say, this was not on the Care List. She took a selfie of us, cuddled up together, sending it to the rest of the Nursing Tribe to prove she was doing a good (if unorthodox) job.    


Every morning during her stay, she did the same. And every night she kissed me goodnight and said, in her best Matron’s voice: “Good night, Susan!” There is no doubt in my mind that those five days have added a new, precious layer to our long and on-going Tale of Two Sisters.


In between, she and her fella looked after me royally, taking me for hospital appointments alongside all the shopping, cooking and other household duties, while lots of Odd Jobs were miraculously sorted by Baz, who whirled about the place with a Reforming Zeal that was a Wonder To Behold.


After my Little Sister left, the nurses who followed her all insisted on following her example by jumping into bed with me in the morning and posting off the inevitable selfie: “You have been usurped!” was the comment accompanying the photo My Boy sent her of the two of us. “Nooooo!” agonised my sister by return - I had to reassure her that Nurse Maggie would always have a special place in Susan’s heart...


A thousand thankyous to all my nurses who have cared for me so devotedly.


Even Susan - she of the droopy legs - couldn’t possibly have felt better loved than I.

Where was I?


Ah, yes, I was in Recovery, having spent a few hours in Blessed Oblivion on the operating table. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters thinks it is somewhat selfish of me to crow about this, given that she spent my lost hours wandering the streets of Chichester with the weight of the world on her slender shoulders.


In Recovery, there is a great deal of noise as we recovering patients are urged to wake up. Someone keeps calling me Ethel, which rather worries me, as I always think that an Ethel must be of a Greater Age than I. No offence intended, all you Ethels out there. It is possible, my clouded thoughts reassure me, that Ethel may be the patient in the neighbouring bed? I hope she wakes up soon...


In the background George Ezra is singing Young Morgan’s favourite song: “I’ll be riding shotgun / underneath a hot sun / feeling like a someone..” I imagine myself in the front seat of My Boy’s car, listening to Morgan’s sweet piping voice from the back seat: “I could get USED to this!” No, George doesn’t sing that line in Recovery. It would be so inappropriate in every way.


Afterwards I wonder if that actually happened. Do they really play music in the Recovery Suite? Could someone, please, enlighten me?


I am unsure because, having come over all unnecessary and been rushed into my hospital room with an army of Medical Types dancing attendance on me, I found myself in the middle of an Indian temple, all graceful arches of shimmering gold. I did realise it was a visual disturbance but sought reassurance from the Youngest of the Darling Daughters who had arrived amidst the chaos and was looking decidedly below par herself. Was it, perhaps, the wallpaper, I queried but, no, given the delicate health of the NHS, wards tend not to be decorated with fancy wallpaper gilded with gold leaf. On the wall facing my bed, a rather lovely picture of a girl in a floaty white skirt, lying in a hammock and reading a book. Intriguingly, she kept swinging out of the picture towards me, like the portraits and photographs which come to life in the Harry Potter books. It was frustrating that I couldn’t quite see what she was reading.


Meanwhile, as my bed slid backwards and forwards beneath me, my daughter decided to stage her own Diva Moment and was taken proper poorly. I could just see her out of the corner of my eye, having been made to lie down with her feet in the air: “Please don’t worry about me,” she kept wailing, piteously, “just look after my Mum..”


Bless them, they looked after both of us, those wonderful doctors and nurses. The Indian temples finally faded into nothingness, the girl in the hammock retreated into the picture frame, and my bed regained its composure. As so did I. The nurses offered my daughter a bed for the night but with work the next day she declined and set off instead on her long journey home. “There she goes!” I thought to myself, full of gratitude but cross with myself for putting her through such an ordeal.


All through the long night that followed, the alarm kept going off on the machine which was monitoring my vital statistics. It sounded just like the bleeping of our faulty oven timer at home when I forget to turn it off before I go to bed. It was all I could do not to try to jump out of bed and rush down the stairs before Mr B started hollering.


Next morning reinforcements arrived in the shape of the Middle of the Darling Daughters. She came armed with Costa coffee and sweet delicacies and reinforced my wishes to be allowed out of hospital as soon as possible. There was a bit of a to-do while this option was argued about - but my X-ray showed everything was in position, more blood tests proved I didn’t, after all, need blood transfusions, and, come the evening, I was on my way to the Y of the DD’s home where I was to spend the next few days recovering.


“You look a completely different person today!” remarked the nurse who had seen me at my worst the day before. I took it as a compliment because, as you know, I always think that is the best policy, whatever anyone says about me.


The Middle of the Darling Daughters tucked me into the front seat of her car and cranked up the heating. “Home, James, and don’t spare the horses!” I instructed her. Fancifully.


“I’ll be riding shotgun....”

Where do I start?


I mean, have you missed me while I have been away? I have certainly missed randomly rambling on about my Life and Times over the past two weeks - so much has happened, much of it Blog-worthy. So, here I am again, like a One Armed Bandit, trying to capture the most amusing moments of my somewhat challenging fortnight. I reckon I can squeeze at least three days’ worth out of them without really trying.


There were the golden Indian temples, for starters, and my Harry Potter moment, not to mention riding shotgun with George Ezra in Recovery. Just an ordinary visit to the operating theatre, you might say...


The Youngest of the Darling Daughters (I have nicknamed her “Mrs Always There”) drove me to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester at Stupid O’Clock in the morning. She had very sweetly refrained from drinking her first coffee of the morning in front of me and my parched mouth. Little things mean a lot, don’t you know? We had been warned by my friend Sue who had accompanied her husband on a similar trip, that the Pre Admissions Area was hard to locate, especially at 7 a.m., given a Significant Lack of Signage. Indeed on operating days, I am given to understand, the corridors are haunted by nervous incoming patients accosting early morning cleaners for directions. Thanks to Sue, we knew more or less where we were going.


In the Pre Admissions Area, we joined two knees, a hip and a shoulder, all waiting to be assigned to one of three operating theatres. I was “due down” (what an unsettling expression that is) at 11 a.m. or shortly after. A reassuring familiarity was provided by a seaside picture on the wall, showing three small girls playing in the waves, watched by two young women chatting on the sand nearby. The very same picture decorates one of the walls of the hall where my Singing for Pleasure choir meets - the children remind me of the Darling Daughters, the two chatting women are my Little Sister Maggie and I. Like us, their jaws will surely not rust.


The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I who, as regular readers know, have enjoyed many a Theatre Date together, took the obligatory “sad selfie”, giggling away manically as only those experiencing an onset of nerves are wont to do before my daughter was told to leave. I asked her to take my mobile phone with her for safety - had I known I would still be waiting to “go down” at 1.45 p.m. I’d have kept our lines of communication open...


Sitting in the preparation bays, the two knees and I discussed how long we had each waited for our Theatre Date. This was like those conversations you have on sun-beds with fellow holiday makers in five star hotels on sunshine holidays where you discover they are enjoying the same luxury holiday for a quarter of the cost you have shelled out. It’s a good thing I am not one to bear a grudge - I was very pleased for both knees that they had been seen so quickly. Well, maybe.


The Pre Admissions Area was very chilly. The Nurse in Charge kept fetching me extra blankets to wrap around my shivering form (once I start shivering, I can’t stop - it’s just the way I am) and calling Maintenance to report the problem. When the Man from Maintenance finally arrived, he identified the problem - the thermostat on the wall simply needed to be turned up. The poor Nurse in Charge was beside herself with the most abject of apologies. 


By this time the two knees had both “gone down” (I met them both the following day when we all visited the X-Ray Suite together so it was good to know that we had all gone down and come up again successfully) and the afternoon patients were starting to arrive. The thermostat had been turned up high and I was starting to simmer gently, like brussel sprouts being prepared for Christmas dinners. “Your turn, at last!” declared the Nurse in Charge. 


Off I went - and at this point I will end today’s Blog. “What about the Indian Temples?” I hear you shout, “What was the Harry Potter moment? And what was George Ezra doing in the Recovery Room?” I’m afraid you will just have to wait until tomorrow.


Such a Terrible Tease I am...

An Angel of Mercy has descended on our home. She looks remarkably like the Youngest of the Darling Daughters.


“Make a list of things you need to get done before Tuesday and I will sort them out,” she advised / ordered me. I didn’t need much persuading. Poor thing, it turned out to be rather more than she was bargaining for. She was reminded (though she was too kind to point it out) of the list Mr B and I left her and her siblings when we set off on our honeymoon after the wedding of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters. Yes, you read that aright - Mr B decided that, in order to avoid a massive low after all the excitement of our first-born’s wedding day, we, too, should go off on a honeymoon of our own. Our taxi driver came to pick us up early on the morning after the day before - and off we went, leaving a list of Things To Be Done which was far longer than our remaining offspring had expected.


Originally the idea had been for our daughter to arrive on Saturday morning and to leave on Sunday after dinner. It’s Monday evening now, as I write, and she is still here. Or, to be exact, she is up at Tesco’s (other supermarkets may still be open - capitalising on the success of their Christmas ads) completing yet another shopping trip on my behalf.  She will still be here tomorrow morning when we rise very early for her to transport me in appropriate style to hospital for my Problem Shoulder to be operated upon. 


She says she will be a nervous wreck while I am under the anaesthetic so, to make her feel better, I reassure her that I will not know a thing, being well out of it for the duration. “Such a selfish cow you are!” she mourns. It would be good to think that once All Matters Surgical are satisfactorily completed, she could have a good rest but, no, her house is to become my convalescent home for the remainder of the week. She just can’t get away from me.


Granddaughter Eleanor telephones me. She has researched all the details of my particular operation, she tells me with enthusiasm, and discussed its unusual aspects with all her friends. That’s what comes of having a medical student for a granddaughter - though it does mean I now have the potential of being seen as a more interesting specimen, as grandmothers go.


Thanks to the loving administrations of my very own Angel of Mercy, I am as ready as I will ever be to tread the boards of the operating theatre. The Daily Blog will, sadly, be notable for its absence for a few days (I could ask the Youngest of the Darling Daughters but that might really be a Step Too Far) but I will endeavour, in the words of that old sweet but jolly song, to “be back soon.” 


Missing you already...

They say, don’t they, that Pride Comes Before A Fall.


I should have predicted it, really. There I was, in full Being Prepared mode before my appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon (I call her Tigger, because she is so very, well, bouncy) next Tuesday. My Christmas cards are written, envelopes addressed and stamps affixed. A few presents awaited wrapping and I had a list of various items - mostly Food Related - for Mr B which I needed to buy in before I headed off into hospital. But, hey, I had six whole days to go which was plenty of time to finish off my preparations. I was so very proud of myself.


Until I fell over the back door step into the kitchen, landing on the floor in a tangled (and excruciatingly painful) heap. I kid you not, it was one of my more spectacular Falls From Grace. It was just a pity there was nobody around to witness it, Mr B being snoozing happily in his armchair in the living room, unaware of the drama unfolding in the kitchen.


I am well known in the family for my unfortunate tendency to fall down steps - and, just as often, up steps. My most famous to date was on the occasion of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ wedding. My poor daughter has to fast forward through her wedding video when it gets to the point in the service when, having read that passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin about olive trees growing together, their roots entwining till they are inextricably linked, I fell down the altar steps and into the congregation where Mr B somehow managed to break my fall, his cricket training as first slip coming to my rescue.  Obviously, unlike the olive trees, I wasn’t sufficiently rooted to the ground.  


Yesterday there was no congregation to gasp at my downfall. I decided to lie there on the floor for a while to consider my options - limited though they appeared to be at the time. I spent a few pointless moments thinking “if only...” As in, if only I hadn’t unpacked all the frozen food which had been delivered so early in the morning, stacked it in the fridge in the garage, then found I had left a solitary tub of ice cream behind. Making my way outside to revisit the garage, I realised that I had locked the garage door so I turned swiftly on my heel to collect the key from the back door and, instead...


After a while I dismissed these thoughts as unhelpful and tried to work out if I could move my legs and wriggle my fingers. My head, all things considered, seemed remarkably clear. Given that my limbs and extremities appeared to be in working order, there was a good chance, I felt, that I might be able to get myself up off the floor. So it proved - and after some ungainly scrambling I staggered into the living room and draped myself on Mr B’s recliner chair, feeling more than a little queasy. 


That’s where Kay, who helps me keep my house in order, found me. In no time at all I was provided with a hot water bottle for my painful back, paracetamol for Medical Intervention, a large bowl (just in case), a mug of coffee (she knows me so well) and many comforting words (to ease wounded feelings.) She wouldn’t leave, she avowed, until she was sure I could rise from the recliner without collapsing again. I did feel a little guilty about the state of my kitchen: “It looks as if you had a party last night!” Oh, I wish, I wish...


The next arrival was the Lovely Louise who looks after Mr B but decided immediately that she would accommodate two for the price of one, even to the extent of calling back in the evening to make our dinner, empty the washing machine and put the bins out - all jobs which were, for the moment, beyond me.


I have been known in the past, as regular readers know, to grumble mildly about our Piccadilly Circus Wednesdays when so many people arrive at our door, one after the other.


Never again.

Latest comments

19.11 | 22:40

I'll be thinking of you. Good luck. Love from Pat.xx

19.11 | 18:19

Good luck Jaqui from us both. Hope all goes to plan. Kindest wishes, Roland & Shirley x

16.11 | 11:06

Will you be OK for the op? If you care for someone like you do, there isn't anyone to care for you. So glad that Kay and Louise were around that day.

15.11 | 22:04

Hope you're OK. xx

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