Wednesday, things started to go downhill.*
It should have been straightforward: take my Dad (86 and fiercely independent) to our local hospital to be admitted at 1130 for surgery that afternoon. But with the inexorable development of delays that drove John Cleese’s character to the point of madness in “Clockwise”, I wondered when I would end up in a remote monastery.
First we left ten minutes late, a tad slow getting ready. We then found the only traffic jam on the Island,** formed neatly around temporary traffic lights, and lost another ten. By the time we had got Dad out of the car, it was well after 1100. He walks very slowly with his ‘wheels’, so my wife found a wheelchair engineered to cross the Atlantic in a storm, and threw all her weight at it to push it up to the lift, whilst I parked the car.
His appointment letter required him to attend St Helens ward, which we knew well, paired as it was with Whippingham ward, on the first floor. When we got there, the sign said “Winter Ward”, not “St Helens Ward”. I thrust Dad’s wheelchair forward and raced back up the corridor to find a map, which showed very clearly that what now purported to be Winter ward was really St Helens.
Confused, I hailed a passing nursing Sister, who confirmed that it was St Helens ward, so, at a little after 1115, I heaved the chair briskly down the corridor and up to reception.
“Ah. You want St Helens ward” the receptionist kindly reminded me. “This is Winter ward, opened to deal with the extra admissions over the winter.”
Full marks to our local hospital, and a mental note to post some sort of positive review in Rotten Organs, or wherever NHS reviews should go. So we had to push Dad in his now leaden wheelchair uphill, right across the site, to the opposite end of the sprawling building.
By now, I could have sworn that the brakes on Dad’s wheelchair were stuck on, but they were not. As I puffed and the wheelchair squeaked its way uphill, we looked out for signs. I tried asking a housekeeper, who knew exactly where the ward was. Another lift, and we reached the doors just on 1120.
The ward’s double doors were locked internally. We searched for a release button, or intercom, but there was none. I glimpsed a nurse at reception and started to rattle the doors more violently until I attracted her attention. She let us in with a few minutes to spare.
“Sorry, we haven’t got a bed for him yet, but please make yourselves comfortable in the day room” she said.
I started looking for a feedback form on which to write “Please don’t move named wards, as it causes serious confusion.” But I could hear the laughter of those who had sat on the committee which agreed to do so, and then forgot to let its house cartographers and nursing sisters know.
Perhaps when we move house, we should take our whole street address with us to the new place. That would confuse them.
*In case you were wondering, this was part of one of the reasons that there was a brief period of Eclectic Darkness. The other factors were a day at work, and annual tax returns. Empathy is most welcome.
**The Isle of Wight, for those who were not paying attention earlier.