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The other side of the sheets, part two: Saturday

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I arrive in A&E.

The receptionist is emailing her manager, complaining loudly about the injustice of the off duty - I feel too ill to stand so sit and wait.

Eventually someone notices me and takes my details - the complainer pauses to say sharply that I shouldn’t have sat down. As predicted I find myself in triage where the nurse contemplates giving me an enema to take home. She decides on balance to send me to Majors - already I feel myself being plunged into a world of acronyms.

My local A&E isn’t big enough for departments. I lay quietly for hours but the time passes, I’m grateful for the rest. I am examined by a kind and thorough assistant physician, reinforcing advice I’d been given on a first aid course years before - ‘what people remember is being spoken to nicely’.

I have more bloods taken, a PR examination, am sent for X-ray and mulled over by the assistant and his superior, before finally being rushed through to EDU one minute before four hours. In PCT world we’re familiar with A&E targets and I’d been watching the clock, so it came as no surprise when I was told ‘we’ll have to move you or you’ll breach’.

Naturally, when Nick and my son arrive they have no idea what or where EDU is, but eventually find me, lying on an extremely comfortable adjustable electric bed.

By evening I’m whisked off to SAU, again resulting in some detective work for my visitors. I am admitted by an overly cheerful young student nurse, who reminds me of the smiley intern I’d seen in Scrubs. Though I answer all her questions with as much patience as I can muster, I wonder why I am asked whether I have a carer, how often the district nurse comes to check my pressure sores, and whether there are stairs at home. Would it be worth finding out how I’d been before the admission - active and in full-time employment?

I am really stumped when asked how I feel about my admission. This comes across, as indeed does the rest of the admission, not as though she has any interest, but as a standard psychological assessment at the end of the form. How do I feel? Would I want to tell this nurse? What response is expected? I am fairly sure the sarcasm of ‘ecstatic’ would be wasted. I struggle too with how to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10 - a question I am asked every few minutes, finally picking a number at random to keep the staff happy.

Kate Lloyd is a qualified RGN and Health Visitor, currently employed as a Senior Public Health Nurse.

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