Mum is currently in hospital recovering from a hip operation and, obviously, I am a regular visitor to her ward.
I’m a great people watcher and I have to say that other visitors to the ward provide many hours of speculation and not the odd grimace.
It strikes me that hospital visitors fall into certain types – most of which the hospital staff, let alone their visitors, are probably glad to see troop off at the end of visiting hours.
The “There Ain’t No Party Like A Hospital Ward Party” Visitors
You know they’ve arrived because the ward volume rises dramatically and any poor incumbent trying to nap is instantly awakened to the rustle of carrier bags and the loud dumping of coats and scraping of chairs.
There will be at least 5 of them and they will behave as if they haven’t seen each other for at least 10 years.
Their arrival is usually heralded by a helium balloon and a crying child.
Cans will be cracked open and the crisps will do the rounds – irrespective of the fact that their relative isn’t eating – or even conscious.
After two hours of reminiscing loudly, the whole ward heaves a sigh of relief when they leave.
The “It May Be Your Bed But I’m Claiming It” Visitors
In they troop, puffing and wheezing from the struggle of using 3 lifts and one flight of stairs and so tired are they, that they plop themselves down on the bed before their relative has had a chance to move their legs.
When reminded gently by the staff that visitors are asked not to sit on patients’ beds, they huff indignantly as if they have just hiked up Kilimanjaro.
The “You Just Can’t Get The Staff, Can You?” Visitors
The most mortifying of all visitors are those who somehow think they have been transported to Downton Abbey and should be waited on immediately. Where’s the doctor? Why is that curtain pulled? Why are there other sick people in the immediate vicinity.
The “Here, Let Me Interpret Your Medical Notes For You” Visitors
Yes, they’ve watched Holby City and Casualty and the contents of the red file or the clipboard at the end of the bed hold no mystery for them. Up and down the ward they pace reading the notes as if they’re about to proclaim them on stage at The Globe. Then they will give you their diagnosis. Wrongly.
The “Cheer Up Luv, You’ll Probably Be Out Tomorrow” Visitors
There’s nothing worse than giving false hope to someone who can’t wait to go home. As a clue, if they are hooked up to a beeping machine, there’s a “Nil By Mouth” sign over the bed or they are barely conscious after surgery, they are not going anywhere soon.
The “Cup of Tea And A Biccie Off the Trolley? Don’t Mind If I Do” Visitors
This lot ignore the fact that the trolley contents are for patients and happily ask for a tea or coffee plus whatever carbohydrate substance their beady eyes spot. They then devour these like someone who hasn’t eaten for days.
The “I’ve Known You All My Life But Can’t Think Of Anything To Say” Visitors
Practically mute, they shuffle in barely making eye contact, mutter “alright then” and spent the next 90 minutes silently observing their relative. Duty done, they shuffle off.
The “I’ve Bought Your Snacks & Fruit But I’ll Eat It For you” Visitors
You can see the patient’s eyes light up when their visitors proffer their favourite chocs or even grapes. They then make the key mistake of offering them round and find themselves left with a box full of empty wrappers and some grape pips.
The “You May Be Nil By Mouth But You Wouldn’t Want Me To Starve” Visitors
The poor patient is miserably enduring the long wait before their op which is made worse when their tactless visitors crack open cans of coke and chomp through a Mars bar. Shortly before reading through their medical notes and demanding tea from the staff.
The “Hand Sanitizer Is For Wimps” Visitors
There are signs on every door. Fully replenished bottles of hand sanitizer waiting to be used. But these visitors are apparently protected by an invisible force field rendering MRSA and any other germ nasty completely powerless.
Sadly, the rest of the ward’s inhabitants don’t have this super power.
The “I’m Too Important To EVER Turn My Mobile Off” Visitors
Closely related to those who bray their teatime choices into their mobile phones on packed commuter trains (“I said I want chicken nuggets, not pizza. Back 6:30 have it ready”), or those who don’t seem to cope when their phone calls aren’t on speaker, this crowd take phone calls whilst ignoring signs asking for mobiles to be switched off. The whole ward has to listen about Dorothy from accounts’ incompetence or when the printer cartridges will be turning up.
Still, just be thankful they don’t take the opportunity to take a couple of selfies.
Mum is doing fine and we are looking forward to bringing her home and we have nothing but praise and admiration for the hospital staff who have enough to put up with from their charges, without having to cope with their patients’ visitors.
Worth bearing in mind next time you go …..