Oh God, the times I've asked my husband or my Mum that question.
Sitting on a hospital bed, eyes pleading, brow creased in baffled confusion.
I told you about nurse nasty the other night. She of "'Ave you got a problem??"
You might remember that the first thing my brain asked as it dragged itself back to consciousness was "Am I imagining this? Is she really picking a fight with me or is it just me?"
I've made a little friend - let's call her Diabetic Daisy. We're both young, both fed up, both relatively mobile and two days ago, a bed became free in her bay. We asked our respective nurses if I could move into it, so that we could be together, but they said no. They explained that another patient was coming in and they needed it for her as she was "really poorly. Hmmm, so poorly, apparently, that she's already gone home, while Diabetic Daisy has been here for a week and I've been here for 2 weeks.
Still, no harm, the bed is free now, so we asked again. We thought it through this time. We didn't ask the day shift - they seemed stressed - we thought we'd wait til it was nice and quiet and they were at our respective beds doing something anyway.
I asked very pleasantly if I could move, but the nurse shook her head (without looking up from the drug trolley) and started to say how a really poorly patient needed the bed.....
I was disappointed and started to say how nice it is if you can find a friend in hospital, and she started to tell me off! She tutted and said I "had to understand" that a patient needing care is much more important than whether I could be near my friend or not.
Again, as so often before, that burning sense of injustice rose to my mouth and wouldn't let me stay quiet. Quietly, but firmly I told her that being in hospital for a long time is hard and that "hard" isn't just a word. Being in hospital is enormously difficult, utterly lonely, endlessly frightening and boring beyond words - having a friend to say goodnight to or someone to talk to when you wake up at 3am frightened and alone is surely worth quite a lot too?
She was sucking her teeth by now, her face set to total disdain and still not looking at me.
I left it for a minute as she counted out my night time drugs and my frustration eased a little. She still looked cross and I tried again, quietly, with as much conciliation in my voice as I could manage. I suggested they might at least consider moving diabetic Daisy into my bay, if the other was needed for really sick patients. I asked her not to be cross, I was only asking a reasonable question, not being rude or selfish.
She said if we really wanted to see each other we could go for a walk! Then she told me for the 3rd time that I "had to understand" there were patients much sicker than me who needed the bed. I gave up, told her I understood that part very well, and went back to my book.
I've got two things to say about it. Firstly, I can't tell you how insulting I find it to be told that I'm not really sick, or that other patients are "much sicker than me." Are they? They might be acutely sick, but Crohn's has ravaged my life and I'll still be here next week and the week after, when the serious cases have long gone home to get ready for Christmas. It's also insulting to even imply that I would rather put my selfish requests before acutely ill patients.
Secondly, I can't really say the care has been very impressive. I've told you some of the more juicy moments, and it will soon have a post all of its own, but there's no escaping the fact that every day is a catalogue of cock-ups. They don't get my supplement drinks when I need them, liquid feeds go up late, they forgot my iron transfusion and my new anti-sickness medication, they haven't put my venflon back in and they've sent me for the wrong investigation. My injections are always late or they've run out, patients wait hours for a commode, blah blah blah blah blah until you want to scream and never stop.
If they won't or can't care for me with any efficiency, and we've already talked about an all too frequent lack of compassion, then surely they could at least let me have a friend? Surely any human being could see the value of a friend at a traumatic time?
It's not even the bed I'm cross about, it's being spoken to (again) like a naughty little girl!! So astounding do I find it, that once again, I find myself asking : Is it me? Did I over-react? Am I over-sensitive? A selfish-malingering-attention-seeking-junkie-bitch? I really don't think that I am, but in the end you begin to wonder. They can't all be wrong - can they?