There is a very good reason why patients are so named. Should you find yourself in a hospital ward awaiting treatment, one fine day, you will find you will need to be, well, patient.
My dear Mum used to recite that age-old rhyme about patience being a virtue, possess it if you can, "seldom found in woman / and never found in man." Sexist, indeed, but perhaps with a sizeable grain of truth.
Mr B and I over the past two days have had to call upon vast reserves of patience as we grappled with Patient Transport which never seemed to arrive on time, doctors who appeared to have no concept of the fact that the word "appointment" tends to have
an expected hour attached to it; and nurses who could stretch an hour's wait for blood test results to more than two hours without seeming to notice the Passing of Time.
In the interests of strict accuracy,
however, I must also point out the many Acts of Kindness which helped us keep our sanity over two difficult days. The men in the Patient Transport Ambulance who were unfailingly - and cheerfully - caring, despite being mortified that they hadn't been allocated
our booking in time to reach us when expected. The lovely doctor who put her arm round Mr B during his treatment and praised him for his amazing patience and tolerance. Even Mr B would admit, with all humility, that these are words not generally associated
with him. He was, indeed, My Soldier.
I used at least some of our long waiting time constructively by reading "A Schoolgirl's War", a Christmas present from the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and her family.
It tells the story of the war years for the pupils and teachers at Maidstone Girls Grammar School, where granddaughters Katie and Eleanor are former and present students, with beautiful illustrations from a scrapbook kept by art teacher Helen Keen at the time.
I read the whole book in one sitting, there in the waiting room. As waiting rooms go, it wasn't the best - but it did have two redeeming features, a handy loo and a machine dispensing hot drinks. For both of which, we were Truly Grateful.
I won't go into gory details but Mr B's treatment involved needles. Enough said, because I don't want to upset the squeamish among my readers. The procedure also lasted more than three times as long as it should have done and
involved three doctors, of ever increasing knowledge and experience, trying to complete it. Through it all, I sat beside him, making inane comments. Like, why have one doctor needling you, when you could have three? Mr B refrained from comment. His patience
and tolerance in the face of adversity Knew No Bounds.
After the procedure was eventually concluded successfully, we were shown to a room where Mr B was encouraged to rest up for an hour or two on a hospital
bed. Mr B - reasserting his Inner Contrariness - resisted this idea on the grounds that he knew, for certain sure, that he wouldn't be able to get comfortable. I knew better than to argue with him.
hospital bed looked very inviting and we had been up since just after five o'clock in the morning. What would be the harm, I asked myself (there being nobody else to ask, apart from Mr B who was too busy tucking into the cheese and Branston pickle sandwich
I had procured for him from the WRVS Friends of the Hospital café) if I just took the weight off my feet for five minutes?
Answer came there none (I was probably, as usual, not listening to myself)
so I took off my shoes and settled myself on the bed. It was pure bliss.
Forty minutes later, I was woken from my slumbers by a surprised nurse who had come to check up on her patient. I'm not quite sure what
she thought to find me asleep on the bed while Mr B was sitting at my side in the chair meant for visitors. I hope she didn't think me a Selfish Cow. Though, of course, she might well have done.
Mr B should
really have been kept in overnight but there were no vacant beds. Thank goodness, said Mr B, who just wanted to get home in time to watch his team Spurs play Chelsea in the footie. It meant we would have to go all the way back again the next day but then Mr
B believes in Getting His Priorities Right.
And, yes, in case you aren't a footie fan, Spurs won.
It was no more than Mr B deserved...