A little tenderness: Part 6

The ‘pain control  nurse’  had  been and chaned  my  dosage …. up  as usual. The  trouble is  the pain  is no  different  but  I just seem to find it more and more difficult to concentrate. I was drfting off now  ………

“Hello” , a new  voice, foreign , gentle sing song , what  nice eyes. “Are  you awake willow”   I am tempted  to not asnwer  but politeness gets the best of  me. “I  am here to help  you, would  you mind if I  gave  you a bedbath” I hesitate  because it does not seem right, a young  man asking me if I would  like a bed bath.  However I have not  had a good wash  let alone a bed bath since I was admitted, he is also  offering to change  my  pyjamas  and  the bed.  So far I have had a lick and  a promise and I am longing to feel fresh again.

What a change  from the usual  begruding  treatment I had received so far. I was bathed put in clean pyjamas and in a freshly  changed bed I was exhausted  but comfortable. The young  nurse  told  me  he had  been at  the hospital  for about a year. His  kindness and respect made  me feel safe and at no time threatened.

Over  the next  week I learnt  a lot  about him,  he had  been in the French Foreign Legion, a Gendarme and now a Nurse. He used  to come into our ward  and chat  when he had  the time  and sometimes  if he was not too busy  he would  have a cup of  tea  with us.  More  than once when I was feeling really  low  he would make  me a bird or a flower  with paper. He was an exstremely talented  and kind  young  man who lived life to the full and who was not afraid to put himself out to help others. He  made my life bearable I missed him when I was moved to yet another ward!

So where ever  you are, dear young french  male nurse, I want to let you know  you helpped  me  through a terrifying lonely time.  I often listened to Alanis Morrisette and Thank You at that  time, and  the dreamlike video shows how exposed and out there I felt. Small acts of kindness helped me through. So thank  you nurse  you made a difference.

BTW  that is just a random photo  the nurse I met  was much  more handsome!!


A little Tenderness Part 5

It is  dark and they are coming to get me ………. I hear the footsteps in my  ears , then a gun shot. BANG! Oh! help  my eyes  fly open  and I am in bed on the ward. The  footsteps  and the gun  shot  come  from  my Ipod and the book I am listening to. I had dozed off again. I am so stiff if only I could turn over  but as ever I am trapped in this brace.

My husband  had downloaded some   James Patterson, books on to  my  Ipod and mostly I am enjoying them just  every so often I loose  my hold on reality  and it all turns into a nightmare. I am not sure of the time, it all regimented in here but also very easy to loose all sense of time.

When  did I get  here  which  ward am I on, I can’t  hear Gwen calling  for Angela. Think  willow, think where am I  did I move……… Yes I  did  that Nurse upset  me, the one with the funny name she really  stressed  me out.

I get  so upset and I cry easily, I am not like  that.  I do not  cry at the drop of a hat. I try hard  not to but it just happens. When  is  my  operation, no one will tell me , I wonder why !

The story  is  getting  very scary  again, this man has is stalking Detective Cross and his family  they are all in  danger, am I in danger .  I just wish I knew which ward I am in  and  where I am.

Will I run free, OH! God  will I ever walk again…………………….


A Little Tenderness : Part 4

My husband and  the the  boys are  here again, they have all come so far to see me. I love their faces  they ground  me,   making  some sense in this mad house.  Last night an elderly  lady  was brought up to the ward at  about  1am she was destraught. I think se had fallen  in the snow  and lain alone for a while  before her family  or neighbours  found her.  She is screaming and crying and wanting to go home.

All the commotion woke me from a fitful sleep even with my headphones on I could  hear the distressed woman crying. I am not sure which ward I am on. “Rose, Rose, are you there  are you awake. ” Yes and yes  and now I have my  barings, we wonder who is screaming and why. Is she in pain, is anyone with her. Damn I wish I could get out of  this bed and find her I am sure all she needs are a few kind words or just a touch. God knows that is what we all need.

I tell my eldest son to move before the metal runners holding the curtains around my bed collapse on him. He smiles that unsure smile he has worn since I have been in here, my youngest son assures me that there is no way the  metal is going to fall .

How does  he know this, cannot I see the metal waving , getting  looser  and  looser?

Last  night I hardly  slept, I listen to a frightened soul as she in fear wept.


“Nurse, I am worried about the lady in the corner she did not eat  her dinner and she did not eat  her breakfast either. I am  concerned  does  she need some help?”  “You don’t need to worry about her she has a secret stash  of biscuits and chocolate  she won’t  go hungry. ” Says  the nurse as she sashays out the doorway.

Emma is crying , it is 10pm , and I can tell she is upset. Emma is eighteen, pregnant and unwell, no one seems to know what is wrong  with her.  “Whats  wrong Emma”, I ask, I can’t  sleep so  I may  as well see if I can help. Emma is  crying  because they want to take  blood  and Emma is needle phobic. The  poor girl was terrified and the two nurses and the technician where getting angry  with her. Bless Emma, she was not budging.

“Emma, Emma” I called to her, “what is the problem”  Emma was young  for her age and she was genuinely frightened. “I ‘ll hold  your hand Emma  and  you will be alright. You  can have Mr  G  for the night as well,” I coaxed her. ( Mr G  was my Giraffe )

She agreed, when the nurse and the blood technician returned it was 10.30pm, what time of the night was that to be hassling young  vunerable  girls  for blood. The technician  was not best pleased, she did not want Emma sitting in the chair  next to my  bed,  ” Not proper procediure , “I promise I won’t  tell” I wispered to Emma who was   hugging  Mr G. ” She  should  be in her own bay”  The  technician complained. Emma  whimpered loudly.

“Do  you want to go home tonight I asked , because I want to sleep. Please I implored” well she was not best pleased  but it was nearly 11pm and I was so tired that it made  me brave  for Emma. Thankfully sanity won out  ,  the technician took Emma’s  blood in my bay, me as ever trapped in my  bed Emma huddled in my  chair clinging  to me and Mr G.



A Little Tenderness: part 3

In and out of sleep , it is very confusing. There is no rest really  the pain does not let up  and it is only  when the drugs  are administered  that I drift off properly. Gwen is as ever calling for Audrey , the lady  next too me is dosing  and I feel so odd. My husband has  put some books on my Ipod  the only  trouble is  that I drift off mid story  and it is  so hard to rewind.

6am lights on and breakfast, it is easier  to have toast I can eat that lying down, though I would like some porridge  but there is no one to help me …. so toast it is.  The lady next  to me tells  me how nice the porridge is… yes I bet it is.   Time  for blood pressure and temperature , ” have you passed a motion willow?”  “No  not yet” I reply. “we can give you some medicine  for that ” the nurse says ………….. they can give medicine for everything but can they make  me walk. I drift off again.

8.30am ” Hello willow time to wash  dress you and change your bed”. I just smile I hate this , I understand it has to be done  and they do it well  but they talk over me about  their lives, have they have mistaken me for one of the old ladies in here  that cannot or will not comunicate . Shall I interupt their chatter or shall I…… there you go all clean and comfy now.  They walk away and I am alone again  time for Imogen I think !

My head is so messed up where the hell am I … oh! God I can’t  move , help, help!

“Hello Willow I am just doing your blood pressure , it is high are you okay? ”  I look at the nurse  and I try  to say I am scared I keep having bad dreams and I feel so trapped in this body brace. What I do say is “I am okay  just having strange  dreams, do you know when  my operation will be ?” No  she shakes her head.

She doesn’t  know , I watch her walk off and I am slipping off again, Imogen is singing in my head

10.am  The  lady  comes round with the hot  drink, I have coffee in  a beaker  with a straw , it tastes funny but it the only way to get a drink.

…………. “hi ” It is a doctor  now, ” what are you listening to?” I am about to tell him  but he is asking me more questions , it is so hard to concentrate but I do my best.


12midday dinner arrives, Oh! I am in luck today  the young girl  is  here to help me. She is African  and so pretty she has a pretty nature too. She smiles and talks to me as she feeds  me , she listens to me , she really  does. I ask  her is she going to be a nurse , no  she  is going to be a pharmasist , shame she would  be a great nurse.

1pm  the cleaner is here  she is nice always smiling  but  she does not speak a word of English. She has  the most lovely eyes.


“Hello Willow  how was your morning ” it is  my husband  he is here  to help  me through the afternoon, trouble is  I keep slipping in and out of sleep. Why will they not operate  I will feel safer, stronger, better  after they have. My husband talks  and I listen, he tells me how cold it is , how bad  the snow is. I want to be awake  but I just keep slipping away.

3pm the tea lady again  she gives  me a beaker with a straw of coffee and my husband  a cup of tea for  my husband. The lady in the  next bed  had has two biscuits.

6pm dinner arrives, my husband helps  me, he is getting good at  this.


He stays  till about 7.30pm I urge  him to go home and rest.

I ring for a bedpan  the nurse says ” surely  you have a catheter”   “yes” I said ” I do not need to pee”. It is  almost impossible  to use a bed pan when you are  laying  flat. This nurse  leaves  me on the bedpan  for over 20mins  then longer after I have rung  for her to help me.  I ask her  have I been , no she says walking away. ………. Why can’t I tell if I have been, why can’t I go, why can’t I feel . My stomach  really hurts, so does  my back hurt so much, I start to cry  then  the cloak of sleep surounds  me again.




11.30pm  I hear  the nurses starting  the drugs round  the night shift  must be here , they are so noisy, blood pressure, temperature , pluse, tablets. Straighten the bed. Lights out ..not bad  tonight it is middnignt. Let me get these headphones  back in  shut  the ward out. …………………………

A Little Tenderness : part 2

“Is  that a huge black slug or a nasty black  worm ” I asked  my eldest son . He was sitting next to  my bed and holding my hand, ” where  mum ” he asked on a laugh! “Up there I said over  the clock, I don’t like it , it keeps  moving” Quizical  look and  and gentle reassuring ” No mum I think you are tripping again. You know it is me, not you that does weird !”

He was right I do not not do weird I was the sensible Mum here. I was the adult ( even though he was 36yrs at the time,  40yrs  now ).  He was right though I was finding it so hard to hold things together my head was buzzing and my back hurt so much . I had a catheter which was good  but I was totally constipated all the time. My body  seemed to have gone totally  haywire. My brain addled with painkillers  was panicking , will I ever walk again, will I even stand up will I ever  manage to go to the toilet again……… sorry  but base as that is that was what I  was panicking about, that  and what was the black slug/worm doing on top of the clock.


The Dr , no sorry  he is a mister, a surgeon , is standing at  the bottom of my  bed again with all his minions , a sea of faces , international faces.  I wish I knew  when they will operate , perhaps  they have forgotten  what  they said  they would do. I will ask  him again. Mr …….  can  you tell me exactly  what  you are going to do.  ” I told  you yesterday  do you rally think I have nothing better  to do with my time than  to tell you again today? “OH! his bark is as bad as his bite, er  no I suppose not. Oh! well I give up , lets put my Ipod on and loose myself in a story.

“Willow” , a hand  on  my shoulder, “Willow sorry to wake  you , ” Oh! it is that really nice registar Mr … ” Willow I am sorry Mr … is very brisk he doesn’t mean anything by his way.  He just thinks it is as easy for everyone to understand  what he is doing, as it is for him! ” He is smiling at me now and explaining again what they are going to do  but they have to wait  for the kit to arrive  and the swelling to go down. Why am I so scared.


bad weather

bad weather

OH! Another Dr  what now ? Hello, OH! big smile, it is no d0ctor it is my husband . He has got here through the snow again. He has bought me a rasberry mousse , thank you  so much. I have fallen asleep again then the pain wakes me up . Time  for oramorph  then back to sleep again.

My patient  husband  he used struggle in to visit me every day, and we were in the throws of one of our really bad winter spells snow and ice everywhere.  But  he percivered .

The  weather was bad  and lots of old ladies ( and men no doubt  but I did not see too many of them.) were addmitted  at regular intivals of the day and night.


Angela , Angela where is Angela ? That was a question that I was going to get  very used to. It would  be asked  morning , noon and night  by Gwen. Angela  arrived everyday  at 2pm  and she stayed until 8pm at night.She  was as quiet  as a mouse and she was always smiling . It did not matter whether she was there or not  the question  was asked every few minutes.

I remember there were four of us in the ward  and we were all tired , there were Mavis  and Joan oposite me  and Barbara beside me . It was 2am and none of us could sleep because Gwen was calling for Angela .  As Gwen asked for the where abouts of Angela  for the 9o99th time we all chorused “Shut up Gwen” We were all amazed when she did . We all relaxed , it is amazing how it grates on the nerves  to hear someone  in true distress appealing for someone , not knowing if there are there or not.   We all enjoyed 10mins of total silence … well almost silence the night staff were as usual chatting about their exciting lives  giggling and being generally  noisy.  But it was bliss.

Angela , Angela where is Angela ? what could  we do  we all just bust out laughing……………… what are those tears , yes I am so tired . Angela , Angela where is Angela ?


A little tenderness.

Hi again, I seem to be talking as me a little  more of late. Maybe it is because  you have all helped  me feel at  home and safe.

Today I am going to open up to you about  my stay in hospital after breaking my back ( four years ago). I have been talking to “Let’s  cut  the crap” about some of the experiences  I had  had with  the children  when they were small. Somehow or  other  we had  touched on my time in hospital and it has  got  me thinking so here  we go. Here to start  is what I had said  to “Let’s cut  the crap” ( sorry I do not know  another  name for her! )


I broke my back and was in hospital for a month! The standard of nursing was sadly lacking absolutely no caring or compassion. I was in a body brace for a fortnight before the first op ( to allow the bruising and swelling to go down and also to allow the the special kit they needed to order to fix me, to arrive.) I had to lay flat all the time. The nurse ( usually the same one) would plonk down a bowl and a flannel and wonder off. She would return after 20/30 mins and say ” Have you washed ” I would say ” No sorry I can’t reach and I can’t move. ) She would huff and puff and then proceed to wash me in the tepid or cold water that she had left there earlier. Same with food they would leave it then ask where you not hungry to which I’d say yes but I can’t get to it ! My husband used to come in early to help me.  Mercifully I got moved to a ward where they did at least try to be  helpful but whichever ward I was on the night staff were invariably noisy rude and uncaring. A sad inditement on the nurses and Drs who to be fair are very stretched and I did meet some who were very kind to me.

When I was first taken in to accident  and emergency it was about 5am , I was triaged  and sent to Xray  which  confirmed I had   broken  my  back. Apparently  my spine had exploded  and there were pieces of bone floating around  ready  at any second  to nick  my  spinal cord. By 4pm I had  not  been assigned to a proper ward  or managed to pass urine. I was stressed and in pain , my husband had had to go home and get me some things. I was almost  begging  for pain relief and as I could not pass any urine  I was asking for a  catheter.  The sister  told  me she needed  the Dr  to arrive  and prescribe both  for me.

I was beginning to think I would not have any relief that day and I could  feel tears welling up in  my eyes, I was very agitated. I noticed  a young man approaching my bed,  he stopped and spoke to the sister. Then  he stepped closer  and said, ” Hi Mum, I have spoken to the sister and  you need a  special xray, hopefully  when that is done  the Dr will have been.” I took a double take and saw  it was my middle son.  He put his bag  down and said ” I am coming with you and I shall be with you all the way.

My  middle son was a prison officer  at  the time (  he has in the last year changed his job completely and moved  nearer to us .)  He was completely in work mode and as he accompanied  me to Xray  he was completely in control. He had arrived in the nick of time and  had reassured me and I did feel much better knowing he was there.

When we got back from Xray there was a lady waiting to fit  me  with a body  brace, then  the Dr arrived and prescribed  some pain management and a catheter.  Shortly after that  my husband arrived. My lad had done a first class job on damage limitation.

The above body brace is very like the one I had to wear 24/7  but  mine was black, padded and had two metal bars in the back to support the spine .



I was very lucky  all three of  my sons arrived  to see me  and they all had long  journeys  to get to the hospital. The  three of them and my husband  were absolutely  great. I remember  vaguely  one late afternoon  the boys had  all arrived within  a half hour of each other and they were all sitting round the bed  trying to make sense of the drivel I was spouting  due to the Morphine I  had been given. One of the surgeons had arrived  and was animatedly telling me what they were going to do with my back, how unusual the operation was  and how they would have to order in a special kit  to pin and fuse  my  spine.

Not one word sunk in I was away with the fairies, Luckily  when my husband arrived   the lads were able to tell him what  the Dr  had said.  I was too  busy worrying  that  the large metal frames  holding up the curtains round the bed  were about to drop on me. I was also desperately  trying to understand  why somebody  had Selotaped  10pence pieces  to the curtains.  My eldest son found this distressing and too this day  tells  me how weird it was to see his  mum  “tripping”.


At  the start of  this  post I was saying  how I was struck  by the lack of compassion and care  from the nurses. I mentioned  the nurse  who never remembered that I could not sit up let alone not  move. Finally after  a week I ended up on another ward . The first  morning I woke up  on that ward  I was approached  by a French  male  nurse  he was extremely handsome  and very  kind. He  asked  me if I had had  a bed  bath  I told him I had  not. He  then asked  me if I would  be happy  for him to give  me a bath  and a change of pajamas, I replied  that that I would  be so grateful. I was not sure if I was happy  with  this  but desperate to feel clean and comfortable.

The nurse managed  to engage  me in conversation  and bath me  with dignity  and change  my pajamas  and the bed  without too much pain and discomfort  and absolutely no  embarrassment. He was worlds apart  from the brash and bad tempered nurse  in the first ward.  He often used to pop in and talk to all the ladies in the bay I was in  and he also made us all paper flowers and animals. It all goes to show a little care  made all the difference.


I need to go to bed now  so until the next time  hugs to you all.

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