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Good luck, Boris

April 7, 2020

I think you’re a total wanker and I wish you weren’t the Prime Minister, but I do wish you a full recovery. Good luck with that at St Thomas’ Hospital, mate.

I know you probably shouldn’t judge a hospital by one bad experience, by mine was pretty bloody bad.

Thirty odd years ago I went to the pub after work one Friday night with John (who, after thirty odd years has suddenly resurfaced and is now following my blog, so hello, John) and a couple of other people.

It was late January and I’d been feeling a bit crap since the new year, run down and tired all the time. So bloody tired. Halfway through my third pint I thought I was going to pass out. I knew I needed to get home and into bed as soon as possible. I asked John to ring for a taxi. No mobile phones in those days, so he had to queue to use the pub phone. When he finally got through to a minicab firm they said it would be at least 45 minutes before they could get a driver there.

Soon after he arrived back with this news I did pass out, could not be summoned back to consciousness. An ambulance was summoned. John asked where they were taking me and they told him St Thomas’. He said he’d follow there. A nurse asked him how much I’d had to drink. Young woman passed out in pub obviously was a no brainer as far as they were concerned. He told them I’d had three pints, which clearly convinced them of their diagnosis. He informed them quite adamantly that he had on many occasions seen me consume a lot more than three pints of bitter without passing out. They agreed they’d keep me in for observation. John asked when they would discharge me. They told him 8am. He asked them to tell me he’d pick me up then and give me a ride home.

When I came round, they asked me the same question: How much had I had to drink. I told them three pints,  which again seemed all the diagnosis they needed. Like John, I assured them that three pints couldn’t make me falling down drunk. They pursed their lips, told me to sleep. They woke me up a couple of times during the night. The first time they asked if I thought someone could have slipped me a mickey. I assured them this was not possible. I don’t know if any of the nurses tested my blood pressure. If they did it was in my sleep. I do know no one examined me or took blood for testing. It was simply a case of shoving the young drunk woman in a bed somewhere to let her sleep it off. At 6am they woke me up again and told me it was time to go.

I exited the hospital early Saturday morning, eventually found a taxi and made my way home to Finchley Road. Just after 8am John rang from the hospital. Why, he asked, hadn’t I called him when they kicked me out? Hadn’t they told me that he was planning to come and drive me home? No, they had not.

I realised that Saturday that my body was trying to tell me something. I needed some proper rest. I rang my cousin Peter who lived near Liverpool, told him what had happened and asked if he and his wife might be willing to have me visit for a few days. They agreed. I rang my editor, told him I was taking a week off and why. The next day I got on a train.

It was a bit of a shock the first night of my visit, when I was getting undressed to go to bed and I realised, glancing at the dressing table mirror in the spare room, that I could actually see my ribs. The next morning before my shower I stepped on the bathroom scales. I weighed seven stone. (In case that does not compute, it is 98 pounds.) How the fuck had that happened? I certainly hadn’t been trying to lose weight, yet somehow I’d dropped more than a stone since Christmas. Peter’s wife Jackie started giving me a Mars bar after lunch every day.

I had been in desperate need of some R&R and some TLC when I left London and that’s exactly what I got, bless them. I was feeling much better when I returned to work the following week.

That didn’t last long. A week back at work, then the next Monday afternoon I went to the ladies and passed out again. Fortunately not with my tights and knickers around my ankles when someone discovered me on the floor. My editor, who could be a bit of a dick, wasn’t that day. He bundled me into a black cab and took me home. On the way, he asked if I’d been to the doctor. I told him I’d been in early January, when I was recovering from a bout of strep throat, and he’d said I was fine. My editor suggested I might want to find another doctor.

My flatmate had recently registered with a local surgery and had spoken enthusiastically about the two doctors. The next morning I rang and managed to get an appointment in the early afternoon. I went and told the indeed quite lovely doctor my tale of woe. He took some blood and told me to stay at home until I heard from him. Late the next afternoon he rang and told me it was no wonder I’d been feeling so exhausted. I’d been walking around with glandular fever for several weeks. I needed to stay home for at least a fortnight.

And that, of course, is my beef with St Thomas’ Hospital. If they’d done anything, other than treat me like a Friday night drunk, I could have been properly diagnosed weeks earlier. I thought about registering a complaint. John encouraged me to do so, but, really, what was the point?

Now, Boris, I am quite confident that there is a world of difference between the treatment (or lack thereof) received by me that night and the treatment provided to the Prime Minister. I am sure you are in excellent hands. But I did wish, when I heard where they’d taken you, that it was any other London hospital.


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