Active Healing

 A day in the hospital begins just when the patient is finally dozing off after a night of post operative aches and pains.  The night Duty Nurse sails in and pushes the digital thermometer under the axilla. With years of experience in multi-tasking, she also takes the pulse and blood pressure reading and tries an early-morning gambit at bedside conversation. Life in the hospital is rebooting and sleep is the last thing that the patient can hope for.

 Next in line to take the day forward is the nursing novice who wheels in a wobbly trolley with a basin of water and other paraphernalia for the patient’s sponge bath. Her job is to wash sleep off the body together with the rest of the dry cells and dirt that come in the way. Somewhere between the readings and the bath, the patient is offered a cup of coffee like a peace offering before the onslaught of the activities for the day. Before the cup is back on the saucer, a cleaning squad enters the room to segregate the waste, sweep and mop the floor and do whatever else is necessary to maintain the hospital’s ISO rating.

 Not long after that, the day crew enters the ward like a flock of migratory birds back for the summer. They scan the monitors for status reports and read the instructions for the day. There’s a flurry of activity in and around the nursing station as the team takes stock of all the nocturnal events. They develop the strategy for the day and sub-divide the tasks on hand according to age and wage.  Another chance to doze while the team is busy deciding who will do a bladder wash for Room 326? Unlikely – its breakfast time and the food trolley is already in the ward.

 Before breakfast is over, the dietician marches in with a 24-hour menu and your own order form with several check boxes in faint small print. When you still have a couple of tubes running into your body and another two running out, it’s an effort to decide whether it will be porridge or cornflakes tomorrow morning. There are no special dispensations and the check boxes have to be ticked one by one to get something to eat. For the patient it means a long scan through lunch, tea and dinner for the day and breakfast for the next morning.

 Just when you think the morning’s jobs are over and you can snatch a nap, it’s time for the most important event of the day – the doctor’s rounds. No patient is privy to when the doctor will actually come or whether he will come at all.  A patient is expected to possess loads of patience as he or she waits for the doctor’s visit.  Time is at a premium and the patient also has to make notes of all that he wants to say and all that he wants to ask the doctor. The doctor’s visit is part of therapy and bedside hope and as important as the anti-biotic that’s flowing into the body through the intravenous drip. It’s the time when every patient willingly stays awake for hours and perhaps the whole day.

 There’s no sleep possible during the wait for the doctor and no sleep after either as the nurses hurry to carry out the Doctor’s instructions – a post operative walk down the corridor? an X-Ray?   a fresh scan?  a wound dressing?

 Next on the hope line is a nap after lunch to compensate for an over active morning?  Ideal but it is ill advised!  “Don’t sleep during the day, you will sleep better at night,” were the last words of the Doctor as he left the ward for another session of surgery.

In the happening ward rest and sleep should be the last things on the patient’s mind. Lunch is followed by a visit from the stoma care nurse keen to demonstrate how to get on with a changed lifestyle. Then it’s the turn of the Floor Supervisor and a person from Housekeeping both keen to know if everything is in order. There’s another visit from the duty nurse for recording the body’s performance during the first half of the day and then the hospital day moves into the visiting hours.

 The dinner trolley should announce the start of the end of the day? A glimmer of hope but there are some more things to be done. It takes time for the catering assistant to distribute the different meals and more time to collect all the trays after the meal. Time for sleep at last? Not just yet – the diet check box includes a glass of milk – unfortunately that arrives after the patient has said goodnight to the doctors, nurses and hopefully to all the ailments.

 An active and busy day in hospital is sure part of the healing therapy!