|Armidale Private Hospital
I've now been here long enough to understand some important things that I never did before. "Why do they wake you so early?" is a common complaint. "I was just getting some good sleep."
There's a good reason, and unlike what some people think, it's not simply to suit doctors and nurses. It's about us, the patients.
Those early observations ("obs") are taken then to get what is probably the truest reading of the real state of your system. Taken again, later in the day, the comparisons can be valuable and revealing.
In this hospital, they'll get you a cup of tea if you like, and a plain biscuit. I'm steering clear of the biscuits now because I put on weight here and it's not good weight.
You can go back to sleep if you like, or snooze maybe, but it's my time for exercising a little and getting on the computer.
Breakfast is at 7.30 or so. Pills and Clexane jab, scrupulously monitored. After that, it's ablutions time. It's not long until morning tea and other things. It isn't a peaceful time. I may get some writing done or I may not.
Denise comes in with the breakfast tray, telling me what it's like outside.The "early" food, now I see, is to get the body working. With luck, the regularity of the regime gets things going, and you may take that in the colloquial sense. People are more likely to complete the hardcore toilet activities, and before showering, so that the body is clean and fresh for the day. It all takes time so it's in the patient's interests to get it all completed as soon in the day as possible.
In here I wouldn't know.
"Big frost and then fog. But it's a nice day."
I'm in the chair, where I prefer to eat. She puts the tray on my lap, the whole box and dice. That's how I want it. She's already opened the various items in sealed containers that are a nightmare one-handed. It's not in the job description but she does that.
The nurse to dispense pills hasn't yet come, so I hold back the fruit. I always have the pills with food. Tell ya why later.
This is why I say it's patient-focused, though it does have time-planning and workshift benefits.
Tracey tends to come after that, and information between us is up- and down-loaded. We usually have lunch or a cup of non-hospital coffee. When she leaves, I do more reading and writing. I really don't want visitors, not because I don't love them, but because I find myself exhausted by the pleasure of their company. Emails are good.
I'm not being sarcastic. I have many delightful friends and while they're here I often don't want them to leave. But there's a price to be paid later, in seizures and debilitation.
Halfway through breakfast, Sal comes in to dispense the pills. She checks them off against a complicated list. I use the checklist with trade names of the pills on the list Tracey prepared, with photos. It's brilliant. Sal and I agree she's got it right.
The morning hit-list
She always gets it right.
"Which side of your tummy do you want the Clexane?"At any time through the morning, medical people come and go. There are consultations. Physiotherapy. Serious discussions. Somehow it's impossible to write. I try to sleep for part of the afternoon before dinner time.
I seem to remember the nurse used the left side yesterday. Alternation helps.
"Do you have a preference?"
"Nah. I'm...." She searches for the right word.
"Versatile? Ambidextrous? Multilingual?!" She laughs.
"All of those." She checks out with another nurse that she's got the dosage right. It's the rules.
She's a jabber. Well, Sort of. Little jab, very careful. Some nurses slide the needle in; others treat my belly like a dartboard. Lord knows they've got plenty to aim at. Strangely enough, the latter method is just as good from my point of view. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes not, no matter which way. After all, it's a pinprick. At worst, a bee-sting.
Once all that's over, with luck, I have my time. There's a good quality TV up there. I don't watch it much. I have things to do. I get to meet friends online via social media. Finally, I call for a nurse who readies the bed and gets me settled in.
Me? A grown man being put to bed like a baby?
Yes. I need to turn on my side. I may need help. Being too proud (let's call it what it is – "stubborn") may put you at unnecessary risk, and if it goes wrong, it can be disastrous.
I've finished breakfast and now I have a problem. The breakfast tray. I don't have the strength one-handed to lift it, gantry-like, to the one place possible. I'm a beached whale. I could call a nurse, but the bells from other patients are blinging like poker machine bonanzas. I don't want to distract them. I wait, pondering.A word about this hospital. Firstly, the building is neat and unpretentious, with internal walkways through to the public departments such as Oncology, and to the hydrotherapy pool. It was possible for Tracey to wheelchair me to Oncology from my room while it was freezing outside.
Denise gets to me. She's after the tray.
"Will no-one rid me of this troublesome tray," I beg. It's a bit early in the day for bad comparisons with poor old Becket, but she's happy to oblige. I am free. I put the laptop on my tray, adjust the chair so my legs are up, and here I am again.
This story shows the quality of treatment and patient reaction to their stay here.
Armidale Private rated NSW best private hospital again!
Armidale Private Hospital has been rated the best private hospital in New South Wales for the second year running, according to the nation's largest and most comprehensive survey of patient satisfaction conducted by leading health fund Medibank Private. The hospital was also rated best Regional and Rural hospital in the country.
I've always tried to understand when they are likely to be busiest and to restrict requests at those times to the minimum. For example, many of the older patients like to go to bed around 8 pm, and hearing the call buttons pinging isn't the time to ask for a mobile phone to be recharged.
I now tell all staff members who are about to shower me that I have lost all modesty. It's not quite true but helps enormously. Not that they have any embarrassment themselves; they've seen all this a zillion times before. They don't feel they have to place hand washers strategically for my sake. They just go for it.
Only now can I appreciate the experience of being in a place like this. It's a pleasure to be able to press that button without guilt any time day or night and be attended to by highly professional nurses [so far all female, which surprises me, but it wouldn't matter what their gender] who seem genuinely pleased to make me comfortable. They care.
It takes away the guilt factor for me that this is their job and they get paid for it, but they take immense pride in what they do. This is something most carers do purely out of love.
More importantly, their devotion to their patients is totally genuine.
I've more to say about the hospital experience, but... another time.