Retrospect on 2005

30 December 2005
Re-cap on year. Recovering from January heart failure has been the main thing. Seems to be under control thanks to a lot of pharmaceuticals and the regular attention of the cardiac nurse, Poraig, at Homerton.

2 FEB 2005: This is NOT a reply to any email(s) you may have sent me in recent weeks. I have been unwell and away from work (and from email) and do not expect to be fully back to normal for another week.

Dear All

I hope you will forgive a “circular letter”, updating you on my state of health – simply to avoid having to go through it all again and again in conversation and on the phone. I’m being lazy.

I’m out of hospital and instructed to come back to work (gently) next week. The story seems to be that I did not, in the end, have blocked or narrowed arteries – so no by-pass / stents / operations required, which is a relief. However the heart muscles are deemed to be inefficient in some other way. They are treating this with drugs….. Story not over yet. Maybe the osteopath can help.

I have been really moved by all the warmth and support and visits, texts, calls, cards, figs and flowers. That bunch of flowers transformed the whole ward. Thanks too to those who have picked up all my loose ends at UCL and beyond.

It was instructive to be a week in a big state hospital and then 2 days in a private luxury one (NHS trust spending its end-of-year surplus to work-down its backlog). Homerton a shockingly bad location (as predicted by a Bartlett student project when it was first mooted) but seems to be a very effective social institution where people are rather proud to work. The only gross incompetence was the barista in the Ritazza concession in the lobby: the worst espresso ever. Nul points for architecture, urban design, configuration or signage. Very sociable place to be a patient, though.

London Independent Hospital PLC at Stepney Green quite a crafty high-density use of an awkward small site but the design just copied from a middle-market hotel with all the internal rooms used as labs and theatres instead of conference suites. (There’s a thought: when tourism collapses we have an alternative use for the hotels.) Being cooped up in the privacy (=loneliness) of a hotel room is not my idea of therapy. I could do you the life histories of 4 other men and some nurses from Homerton (lots of social cohesion and cautiously-navigated social-ethnic prejudices) but not one serious encounter from the private…. {But I got a DVD of my angiogram in my party-bag and Ossie googled an open-source programme needed to view it)

Neither hospital had any wi-fi or ethernet for patients, both had rip-off phones for patients to use. Food identical in both, though presentation grander in the private (and for £14.95 each your visitors can join you for a meal). Menu options in Homerton include Halal and Kosher; in Stepney the nearest you get is the smell of bengali cooking drifitng in through the window from the surrounding Ocean (Estate).

Both places had laminated “mission statements” fixed to the wall, using the same empty phrases about “excellence” and “patient-centred care”. It made me feel at home.

Staff utterly global in both institutions: London creaming the skilled peoples of the world. The only difference was the presence of a receptionist/greeter lady in the private hospital: posh accent, clipboard, pinstripe suit, lots of hair products and facial chemicals, probably lives in Redbridge. What a snob I am.

All useful experience. See you soon and thanks again. Michael Feb 05

Author: Editors


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