It’s midnight, 22nd of February 2016, Monday, twelve degree Celsius temperature in London. I am at work at room 30, second floor, right opposite the lift at King Edward V11 hospital in Beaumont Street, W1G 6AA. Here right now, I was sitting in a comfortable leather seat by the bedside of Mrs L, the most delightful lady we had in our book. She is one of the loveliest people in the world. Seldom complaining a thing neither moaning a thing nor whingeing a thing. She is always grateful to us looking after her. That is why I was feeling sad, seeing her lying in hospital’s bed with oxygen cord attached to her nostrils. Unwell, had a wheezing sound and she talks incoherently. What was happening to Mrs L these days? Mrs L is 96 years old this month, had just celebrated her birthday very recently. She was sick since last week. At home, her doctor had prescribed an antibiotic that she had taken for a week but did not cure her chest infection. She became confused, not sleeping and instead, she was talking The Polish language all night that I did not understand a single word.
Right now, her mouth is open, chin tilted sideways. She is restless and breathless. Unaware of what was going on around her. I ponder. Is it worth getting too old? You need oxygen cord pushes to your nose? Just to live and go on to live a bit more. Yes! I guess. It is worth getting very old as long as you can trip around the blocks, water your plants and have the energy to do ‘Tai Chi’ every morning. I sigh, watching Mrs L lying in bed gazing at the oxygen cord. It seems this oxygen thing does not give her any pleasure and comfort. She yells telling me to get rid of it. I reassure her that she needs it, to get her better soon. No! Her hand snaps it. My attention kicks in, I put it back, and in one minute, her hand pulls it again. The cycle continues, putting in and pulling out. It does not stay long enough. Her hand plucks it right away. What should I do? Do I have to call a hospital staff on duty? I did earlier, but I was told that they couldn’t do much. Family members had given them an instruction. No more resuscitation please!
I believe her families want her to live more years, more birthdays to come. Otherwise, they would not take her here in this very grand private hospital for wealthy for famous and for members of British Royal family. Oh yes! How many percent of people in this world who almost had everything in the palms of their hands? Like Mrs L almost had everything in life. She can access the best doctors in the world like the majority of people from privileged backgrounds. Does it make different from ordinary people like us? And you? Yes, it is! We have limited access to everything in the world. We cannot deny it. That is the reality of life. We have to grip the truth that life is not very fair sometimes. I can see it right now. In my naked eyes scanning the people, I have walked past while sprinting to this hospital. It tells the truth that many are unreachable; have more advantages than you and I. Did I get jealous? There is no point of getting envy or comparing my life to others. I may not have everything, but I almost have things that I need to live. We can only try to improve our lives daily and be productive.
As I am writing this diary, I though money really talks. It can help extend a lifespan of the human race and even animal kingdom.
I glare at the British military frame hanged on the wall opposite Mrs L’s bed that seems like staring back at me while composing my diary right now. I glance across the room; Mrs L was in bed talking to her own with her eyes on and off shut. Her head is rolling from left to right. I drop my laptop and get off from my seat. I tiptoe to the table and snatch a glass of water. I turn leaning forward on Mrs L’s face. “Have a little drink Mrs L?” Her eyes have opened a split nanosecond and shut back. I tilt a glass of water between her lips; she sips for a few seconds until her face rolls to one side. I stand there encouraging her to drink more, but I get no response. She snores. Then it dawns on me. How weird it can be? One minute she is awake, the next minute she is asleep. Aren’t oldies like babies? Yes! They are.
I drop the glass of water on the table and am back sitting beside Mrs L. I stare at her. Thinking. Am I going to reach the age of 96? Am I going to be wealthy one day? If I were, I have no worries getting very old. Super healthy bank balance is a passport to King Edward V11 hospital.
Why do rich and famous go to King Edward V11 hospital for medical treatment? It was founded in 1898, established in 1899, has been used by British Royal family-Queen Elizabeth 11, Elizabeth the Queen mother, late princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
In December 2012, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted here when she suffered from acute morning sickness. On that, this hospital was in the spotlight, and it caught the attention of international media. Why? It’s the prank of two JDs from the Australian radio station 2Day FM pretending to be Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Charles. What else? The two DJs had managed to obtain confidential information from the nurse at the ward of Duchess of Cambridge. What happened next? The call was recorded and broadcast. Then, a couple of days after the broadcast, Indian nurse Jacintha Saldana who had passed on the hoax to the private ward of the Duchess of Cambridge had committed suicide. She was found dead at the nurses’ quarter accommodation. Terrible. Did anyone see it coming? Of course, no one! If someone had seen it coming and predicted the future holds, things would be different and no prank would occur. An innocent joke of these two young DJs from Australia had a tragic outcome. Nobody had thought it would end a life of a naive nurse who in the past was suffering from depression.
Well, now is 3:00 o’clock in the morning, Mrs L is very unsettled. I buzz the medical staff, and in five minutes a nurse arrives, helping me assisting Mrs L to go to the loo. Unable. She is too weak and fragile. What shall I do to help her ease the discomfort? None! Hospital nurse is not willing to lift her up telling me that it is not advisable to do so, as it could hurt her back. The alternative solution was to put pads on her letting cause of nature does the business freely.
What else could you say about King Edward V11 hospital? Listen! It boasts over 200 handpicked consultants from around the world who are leaders in a wide of medical fields.
Wow! It is a guarantee of extending lifespan. Hey… handpicked consultants around the world! Could you afford to see one of them? Could I afford to see them? I speak to myself. Perhaps, if you and I would win millions in the national lottery, I bet, everything is accessible to you and us. It does say money can give us choices and freedom. Everyone wants the freedom to do everything without worrying finance, but not all can get it that includes me. I need to work to live daily otherwise if I did not, I will end up living under the poverty line and be supported by the British Government to live daily.
It 4:32 o’clock in the morning, my Mrs L is very agitated and uneasy. She screams asking about her bag and house keys. See this is it! Annoying. Mrs L. had an obsession with safety and security at home. In her home before retiring to bed, she wanted her house key to put by her bedside. That is a must do if you are in-charge to look after her at night. You have to reassure her safety firmly otherwise she would repeatedly asking you about shutting windows and doors.
I explain to her that she is in the hospital and not carrying her handbag. Insisting. “I want my bag!” Oh dear! Here you go again. This is a part of my job that I have to deal with so often. Patience is a must have the quality to have survived in this kind of nursing job. Our job is dealing with confused, senile, fussy, meticulous, difficult, crazy and hard to please clients. You hear it now. It is not an easy job.
Are you enjoying? Yes! I love my job though it is a very tough work. Not for a faint-hearted. I have to deal with colleagues from different countries in Europe. That is another plus side to deal with.
As of now, Mrs L is awake, talking non-stop. But I could no longer stay awake. My eyes are almost dropping. Heavy. I must not sleep. I have duties to watch Mrs L. within 12-hour shift.
While writing this diary, I sat beside her bed, watching her, ranting nonsense while her head was turning left and right and about to drag off the oxygen cord. “No!” I insist, my eyes are getting tired and drifting away.
Room has a dim lighting; noise from the oxygen machine is purring and no existence of footsteps outside the door. Quiet. Cool atmosphere.
I am feeling thirsty and exhausted, though I haven’t done much. True. All I did…was give Mrs L… a plain water drink, tidying up her blankets and calming her down. It seems an eternity. Sitting here by her side, fingers were tapping my laptop keyboards. I glance at the door. No one is there.
Mrs L has occupied a double suite room, a single bathroom with a wardrobe, a television attached above at the corner, a table, remote leather seat and two leather stools. The ceiling is low. It is a compact room. It has an old décor look. Immaculately clean from top to bottom.
I was feeling claustrophobic. Her room in the hospital is small compares to her room at home. It has high ceiling and very spacious.
I shut my laptop and drop it on the table. I lean to one side facing at Mrs L. My legs rested on the leather stool. I was fighting not to sleep until the nurse arrives with all medical equipment in tow. I watch. Mrs L oxygen level is 98 and blood pressure is fine. After fifteen minutes the nurse disappears. It is now 6:00 am; I was falling asleep. Mrs L has stopped talking. She is now fast asleep, mouth opened wide, snoring.
I dozed until 8:00 am when the catering staff knocks the room with a breakfast tray held on his hand. In it a porridge bowl, a small glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, knife and pork and a fat banana and a blue napkin. He drops it on the table and walks out. Soon, a morning nurse arrives with a tiny medicine box gripped between her fingers. Our eyes meet. “This is Mrs L’s medicine before breakfast,” she said passing it on my hand. ‘Okay, but I have to leave at 8:30 am,” I said while my eyes peering into the medicine container. “Let me know when you leave. I am just around giving a lecture to my colleagues,” she said before turning her back and slips out the room.
I fret. “Where the hell is my colleague? She should be here by now!” I texted Mrs L’s daughter-in-law and telling her what was happening. I have not sent the text yet… I notice a muscly black man is peering through the square- glass on the door wall. He burst in. “Good morning, I have to take a blood sample from Mrs L. Is that alright with you?” I nod before glancing at the bowl of porridge. “I have to give her breakfast first,” I said. “Okay, will be back a bit later.” He vanishes out of sight. Now I send a delayed text to Mrs L’s daughter-in-law. In it is asking about my colleague who failed to turn up at 8:00 am.
My fingers have gripped the medicine tiny paper box while I was leaning forward to Mrs L offering her morning medication. She is not responding; all I got was her snoring session. I call the nurse. In two minutes, she walks in, and her hand taps Mrs L. across her shoulder. Still, it takes a while for her to respond to the nurse on duty has turned on all the bright lightings in the room. It works. Mrs L has managed to take her medication, and it follows a porridge breakfast feeding by the spoonful at a time. All sorted. She is back to a sleeping mode.
Right soon, I received a call from Mrs L daughter-in-law instructing me to extend my time and wait for my colleague to arrive.
At 10am, my colleague has arrived wondering why I was still in the room. I look at her, our eyes fixed for a moment. “What is happening to you? Why are you late coming this morning,?” I asked. “Oh, I do not know why she is always changing?” That is her excuse telling me that Mrs L’s daughter-in-law had told her not to come at 8:00 am. God knows what was really happening to my colleague. I no longer ask. I just want to get out and rest. I need to sleep.
It is now 10: 10 am in the morning, still not sleeping.
On the way home to my car, I drop by at Wellington Hospital North’s canteen in St. John’s Wood NW8. This is another private hospital in London for famous and rich.
You may wonder why on earth I want to eat my meal here. Simple reason. Food is delicious and cheap. I came late. Breakfast is finished. I have to wait for lunch at 12:00 noon. The canteen is not busy at this time. While waiting, I unfold my laptop and read my diary. Time for editing and writing.
Time clock goes by so quickly, before I know it, is 12:00 noon. Foods’ aroma is pulsing my nose. I turn my head to the food counter that is filled with freshly cooked food. I jump. I buy my meal- a jacket potato, a salmon and vegetables that cost me £4.90. Reasonable price. As soon as I have eaten my lunch, the room is a full house. Noisy. Crowded. Three nurses from Rehabilitation department join my table, one female nurse from Ethiopia, two male nurses from Russia. They have noticed that I am writing?
Their faces are at me, eyes scanning. “Do you work here?” “No, I only come here. I work in an agency who sends me here.” “Okay.” “You are writing? Aren’t you?” the male nurse asked. “Yes, I am writing during my spare time.” “What are you writing for?” asked the female nurse from Ethiopia. “My daily diary.” They giggle. “Oh, you better include us in your writing. My name is Vladimir from Russia.” “I will.” The female nurse showed her ID, but I have forgotten her name right away. She has unusual name.
They left. Their lunch break is over, time to go back to work.
I am nearly leaving this canteen. As you know, I need to sleep. No more food displayed, everything is cleared. The catering staff is sweeping the floor. I feel like eating more hot food, but I have to wait until 5’s this afternoon. That is a dinnertime schedule here until 7’s in the evening. Probably I can wait until 5’s. Let us see how I feel a bit later.
Right now is eight degree Celsius temperature in London. It is now 14:45 in the afternoon.
Now, is 18:35 still in the canteen, had eaten my dinner, a vegetarian meal that cost me less than a fiver. Am I trying to save money? Yes. I have to work hard for my money. London is a very beloved city to live. Petrol is expensive. Running a car is not cheap. I pay car insurance and road tax that cost me a fortune.
Now, it is time to rest writing my diary. Tonight is my day off. You know where I am.