In my last blog post I was leaving the day patients ward at the London Clinic, to go down the street to have a chest X-ray and ECG.
On my way out I said goodbye to the three or four (as you may remember; young and beautiful) staff members I’d met in the short time I’d been on the ward. They all wanted to tell me how much they appreciated what I was doing. I got the impression that (despite this being a private hospital with all the mod cons and extortionate rates) these nurses, orderlies and other staff really cared about what they were doing. They were proud of making a difference and they were so grateful to me for helping someone.
I should highlight at this point; the experiences I have had with the NHS have been amazing; the staff have always seemed to care and have been very hard working. But in comparing the two it is starkly obvious that the NHS need more resources. They deserve to be able to give their patients first class care but they simply have too much to do. But there’s nothing I can do about that now, so I’ll just tell you more about my experiences.
I said my goodbyes and tootled off down the road. My destination, a few doors down on the opposite side of the road, was far less grand than my first stop; in a converted Georgian town house. There was a small, understated reception (albeit with a marble floor and shiny brass fixtures).
Beyond that there was a rather unimpressive room with a couple of reading desks in the corner and chipboard dividers set up for cashiers; those chairs with wooden legs and padded seats lining the walls. The whole place felt more like a library or GP’s surgery than a private clinic. (It didn’t stop them displaying their pricing policy though!)
I handed over my paperwork and was asked to take a seat. After a few moments I was collected and escorted down the corridor. It would appear that the staff, though pleasant, were not quite as glamorous here; which seemed in keeping with everything else.
I noticed that the door I was heading towards displayed a worrying sign. “EXERCISE”. I thought “hold on just one minute! Nobody told me about this!” For those of you who don’t already know me; I don’t do exercise. Plus I had my nice shoes on ready to go to the theatre that evening and was in no state to get all sweaty!
My concerns were hardly soothed by being asked to remove my shoes, shirt and trousers, and lie on my back; but I got the feeling this wasn’t optional. The gentleman put electrodes around my heart and on each ankle and then walked away; before coming back 15 seconds later to remove them and telling me to get dressed and I can be on my way. Anticlimax!!!
I was then directed downstairs to another waiting room to sign in for my chest X-Ray. Another shirt off, another pleasant nurse. Same old stuff, really; nothing to mention other than they took a photo of my chest. After this I was invited to get dressed and be on my way.
And that was it for the day really. Nothing at all scary or intense. It was then just waiting for a call to confirm that all was okay. As I mentioned in my last post, I know my HIV status, try to keep myself healthy etc but I had already began to get inside my own head with the what-ifs and irrational worrying. That’s why I started to panic when my phone rang only 3 days later!
No need though! They needed more blood – they didn’t tell me why but I assume they’d smashed a vial or lost it or let a near-useless work experience student at it or something; either way they needed some more.
It was a Friday afternoon, I was in London for a course. I’d already been out of the office for two days and had been in the job for a month, so I didn’t want to take much more time off. Quick thinking on my part pushed for that very afternoon. That was acceptable so I hot-footed it back up to the exclusive Harley Street area.
Arriving in the same way I had beforehand (see my previous blog post), albeit slightly out of breath. In the same manner I was red-carpeted through by the same faces; each of whom remembered me and seemed visibly pleased to see me again. Filling the lovely nurse in on my mad dash, he quickly arranged a nice cup of tea. Well; I say a cup of tea. It was a silver tray, fancy tea pot, jug of milk, slice of lemon, china cup and selection of biccies!
Blood taken again I was off on my way. It was another week or so before I heard any more from the Anthony Nolan Trust. Doubts and worries ebbed and flowed; obviously unfruitfully as everything came back clean and clear. So that was the green flag to proceed to the donation!
It was another 2 weeks before I got another call. Just over a week before I was due to go in. That was when I heard the news things were on hold (see here)…