Sunday, August 13, 2006


Angels in blue uniforms

I popped in to see my Grandpa this afternoon. He has been a patient on ward E6 of North Manchester General Hospital for the last two weeks since he fell in his house. He is 83 years old, and is my last surviving grandparent.

He suffers from a condition known as Aphasia which has gradually robbed him of the ability to speak over the past few years. He was a fine, good man until he ws well into his late 70's. Now he is a shadow of that, and his speech is almost impossible to understand. He makes sounds, but these are'nt words as we would understand them, and for the past few months it has been very difficult to make him understand our words as well. In addition to his Aphasia, he is becoming physically much weaker as the ravages of time take their toll. He has trouble walking more than a few steps, and getting up out of his chair (hence the fall). He is no longer mobile enough to look after himself.

It is upsetting to see him in this way, but my sadness is tempered by the wonderful care that he receives in the hospital. I wouldn't wish a stay in hospital on anyone, and I want him out of there as soon as possible, but the doctors and nurses charged with his care are simply exemplary in their professionalism, their commitment, and their love for my Grandpa.

I volunteer at NMGH's Hospital Radio Station, Northern Air, and have done for a number of years. I speak to the nurses regularly as I go around the wards speaking to patients and collecting requests. Having said that, I hadn't really appreciated the breadth of their work until now. As well as attending to medical matters, the nurses are also caterers (distributing food and drink), odd-job people (fixing all sorts of technical gadgets that patients might have with them), and most importantly, counsellors. On virtually every occasion that I have visited my Grandpa over the last two weeks, the nurses have taken time to chat to him and the fellow patients, even when busy doing other things. He doesn't understand much these days, and we don't really understands him, but his wide smile when the nurse takes his hand is enough to show us all that he is absolutely safe in their care.

The NHS gets a bad press often enough, but I have nothing but praise for the people caring for my Grandpa.

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