A couple of strokes of bad luck

St-George s-Hospital.jpg

ALAN FRAME unexpectedly finds himself in hospital

I enjoy birthdays as much as the next chap but at the weekend I went to extravagant lengths to celebrate the NHS’s 70th; I had a stroke, well two actually. What better way of seeing if the old girl was still fit and well?

I am happy to report that she is, at least if my treatment at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, south-west London, is anything to go by. St George’s, for those of you who enjoy reality TV shows not involving idiots cavorting on the beach or in the jungle may know, is the setting for 24 Hours in A&E. No starring role for me as it was a Sunday morning and the cameras were off duty. To explain:

I was staying with my lovely daughter Anna, one-time features sub at the Express and The Times. I had felt unusually tired on Saturday though put this down to a poor night’s sleep and 30C heat. 

We watched the England match in the evening, in itself a novelty for someone with a great antipathy towards footballers (though not these ones who do seem a decent bunch led by a fine manager and fine captain — son of a Galway man so even better.)

On Sunday Anna and I were driving into London from her home in Sanderstead, Surrey and I was slurring. Even for me, 10am was a bit early for that. So straight to the nearest hospital, Croydon University, formerly Mayday, or to those clients of the place in its former guise amusingly known, I hope unfairly, as May Die. I can report that I was seen instantly and within 10 minutes red-lighted, as us old hands call it, to Tooting, regarded as the UK’s leading stroke joint.

The lovely A&E duty doctor Lucinda, looking and sounding every bit a Lucinda, booked me in after I passed various tests with flying colours. These included all sorts of injections which the Drone’s Medical Correspondent will have to elaborate upon (call for Miss Dover.) And so it was back to bed for me, this time in the William Drummond ward for us stroke chaps. 

At this point I should fill you in on my medical record: I don’t have one. It is 70 years since I my last (and first) overnighter in one of Aneurin Bevan’s splendid institutions. Like me the NHS was in its infancy. I was two and the Health Service was a newborn baby. Since then I have troubled it rarely and I thank the Frame family's fine Irish genes for that. It certainly has nothing to do with my rackety lifestyle.

And now for the serious bit: My two days at St George’s consisted of three scans, Catscan, MRI and Echo, plus ECG, plus frequent blood pressure tests (every two hours during the night) and brilliant care from what must be the best nurses on the planet. 

I know it is invidious to single out individuals in a team but let’s hear it for the lovely Naomie Priestley and Chloe Elliott who spent hours chatting and humouring me and generally being absolute stars. As, I should add, were all the staff. Better still most were fellow Paddies including the consultant, the speech therapist (‘you’ll soon be speaking with a Dublin accent’, I was assured) and several nurses. 

Even the food, while certainly not up to Drones Club standard and a bit short on the sommelier front, was as good as the old Express canteen fare. Ok, not really a recommendation I admit but much better than folklore would have it. 

The other excitement was the view from my bed: the helipad on the roof of St. George’s about 100 metres away bringing in those far far worse than me. To misquote the late Brian Hanrahan: I counted them all in — and hopefully they will one day be counted out fit and well.

I said earlier that I had two strokes as highlighted by the MRI thus living up to the family motto Facere media per quae numquam (Never do things by half). Alternative translation: Keep  buggering on…

Thank you St George’s, what a great testimony for the 70-year-old NHS!

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre