non fiction

All posts in the non fiction category

Suggestions for my Doctor’s surgery suggestion box

Published February 17, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Sat waiting for my diabetic review at the doctors, and waiting, and waiting, I spot their suggestion box. So after nearly an hour past my appointment time I thought I’d amuse myself. The following is what will greet the practice manager when she opens the suggestion box.

1. The waiting room needs to be renamed ‘The Executive Lounge’ for starters. Calling it the waiting room is setting the scene for misery and gloom and low expectations. It would be more uplifting to be told ‘take a seat in the executive lounge’ when you check in.

2. When using the self-service check in system it can leave an anxious patient anxious when they sit down, wondering if they completed all the stages correctly. I suggest the machine be programmed with a fanfare to be played loudly if completed correctly. Maybe a burst of confetti for the 100th correct user.

3. The waiting room/executive lounge can get quite tedious when waiting for any length of time. Even though your information slides are informative they are mind numbingly boring on repeat for an hour. I realise a TV licence is an extravagant expense, and fraught with its own problems (I might want to watch This Morning, another patient might prefer Homes Under the Hammer) so how about hiring out mini DVD players with headphones for a small fee. You could profit from patients’ boredom and patients would be less cranky if kept waiting. If not DVD players, then how about just headphones for hire with a selection of music. Patients could have their own little silent discos or classical calm. Music therapy. The headphones could vibrate when the patient is called through, but if I’m jiggling to a bouncy track I would leave them on while sashaying along the corridor.

4. Heated flooring in the nurse’s rooms would be lovely. When you have to take your shoes and socks off for diabetic foot testing it can be a bit chilly in winter. This isn’t a diva request, I have dainty, delicate, size 9, diabetic feet. If this is too much expense a fluffy bath mat could be a substitute.

5. Waiting in the executive lounge would be improved with food and drink. I would like coffee but some of the other patients I saw I wouldn’t trust with a hot beverage, so I think you’d have to play it safe with a water cooler. Food wise it would have to be something healthy too, yawn, so maybe fruit and nuts. Maybe just fruit as too many people have nut allergies these days. Actually, scrap this suggestion as an apple and a glass of water sounds too much like a minimalist still life set up.

6. Thinking of painting, a little bit of art therapy in the executive lounge would be good while people wait. But again, having seen a lot of the other patients I wouldn’t trust them with crayons let alone squidgy paint.

7. Lava lamps. Calming and therapeutic. I suggest you have a plethora of lava lamps placed around the executive lounge. The other surgery in town has a fish tank which is calming to watch, except when children tap on the glass, that increases anxiety, of the fish and myself. Thus, lava lamps would be a good distraction for anxious patients, inquisitive children, and people who like watching blobs bob up and down.

I hope these suggestions help.

Advertisements

Leap

Published February 17, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Sat against this rock I am hidden from the world. Invisible and insignificant.

Facing outwards, I hear the ocean caressing the rocks further below me, I see the lit lighthouse standing proud, alone but confident, defiant against the blackness of the unknown ocean stretching ahead of it.

Facing inland I see couples illuminated by candlelight through the restaurant picture windows, laughing, smiling, touching. I don’t know which I’m more envious of, the people exchanging loving looks, or the ocean full of freedom and hypnotic hope.

I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone to look lovingly at me, to be their whole world in that moment and moments more. I am not worthy of another’s love. Even I don’t love myself so how can I expect it from another. No one could find me special, wonderful, their guiding light. I will never be someone’s lighthouse, someone’s restaurant gazer.

I will be the lone rock sitter, the solo sea starer, the self-placed exile. I long to be with someone special, as much as I long to leap into the ocean, to float away from pain. Maybe I should take that leap, find the lighthouse for me.

Why am I so scared of sitting in that window? The remote sea seems less terrifying to me. I have a blackness within, it spreads and dims my vision. It smothers my clarity at times. At times I don’t know if I’ll leap when my dark secret self swirls deep. The sea speaks to me, it says listen to me, follow me, join me, stay with me.

I close my eyes as wind joins waves in beautiful orchestral crescendos.

Inhaling salted air, I breathe life into me.

Today is not a leap day.

Reasons to be my Valentine

Published February 14, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

1. I’d give you my last Rolo. From a multipack. After I’d licked it.

2. No need for a hot water bottle at night. I’m hot. Temperature wise. (This perk is not so perky in the summer months.)

3. I’m not a fussy eater, so you can take me anywhere. But not a steakhouse or a sushi bar. Or a Nandos.

4. I can write you poetry or write you into a story as the hero. But if you annoy me, I will kill you off, fictionally.

5. I make excellent tiramisu.

6. I’m not a good dancer, so you will look fabulous if dancing with me.

7. I can’t run fast. This isn’t a negative point, if we are being chased by zombies or muggers then I will get caught first enabling you to escape.

8. I’m an excellent organiser. Your future holidays will be planned with military precision allowing you to merely relax and enjoy yourself. When scheduled to.

9. I’m a vegetarian so I’m cheap to feed. Although any money saved on meat will probably be reallocated to chocolate or marzipan.

10. I don’t get scared at horror films so can look after you if you do. But I will probably hide behind a door to scare you if you take a trip to the toilet.

11. As a non-drinker I can be your designated driver. Oh, if I could drive that is. But I can still look after you and make sure you get home safe. And draw on your face and take photos.

12. I will take a bullet for you. Not such a grand gesture, having depression I’d take a bullet for anyone. But it’s still a perk worth considering.

13. I give great cuddles. My extra fat layers give added squish. It’s like cuddling the Ghostbusters Stay Puft marshmallow man. But less sticky.

14. You can watch me dancing in my fringed swimsuit to Eurovision. This is a special V.I.P part of the package, never been seen by anyone before. (After seeing once you have the option to opt out of further shows.)

15. You get unfiltered access to my brain. (Again, you do have the option to opt out of this perk.)

Observations from my mini break to Jersey, February 2019

Published February 9, 2019 by Naomi Rettig

Welsh cakes from the executive lounge in Cardiff airport don’t taste as delicious when you swallow them down for the second time on the plane. It’s about getting the balance right between comfort eating for flight anxiety and leaving enough room in your stomach for Welsh cake tumbling. I haven’t quite got this balance correct yet.

The synthesiser drum beats on Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ are perfectly matched with my heart beat on take off in the plane. Except when my heart got to 145 bpm.

I’m glad the windows on a plane don’t open as when looking down on the fluffy clouds my brain thought it would be a great idea to jump out and feel how spongy they’d be on the way through them.

If you sit in the last seat at the back of the plane, on a small propeller plane, you get to hear all the juicy gossip from the airhostesses as they sit by there. Especially on a flight where no one else is sat anywhere near. The downside though is you never get closure, I’ll never know if Hazel got rid of her lacklustre boyfriend that she was deliberating over.

I still get excited when I get Jersey notes in my change, foreign currency! I know it’s the same currency as the UK but having the different bank notes with a smiling not stoic queen on them makes me smiley too and feel like I’m in exotic lands.

I still get excited when visiting my favourite lighthouse at Corbiere. I still pretend I’m on a star trek set when walking through the boulders. I always wonder if I’d get told off if I got deliberately trapped out there. I want to feel isolation panic, but not get banned from lighthouses. I always walk out at the peak of low tide to be extra safe, but I think on my next visit I’ll be more risqué with my timings.

My favourite bench on the top of the cliff looking down onto Portlet Bay is still my favourite bench in the world, and I feel territorial if I see anyone else approach it. That’s my bench. It’s this spot that would be the place I’d leap from if I was going to jump off a cliff to end it all. But if anyone reads this in the future from an insurance company it was a windy day and I fell accidentally.

My second favourite bench on top of the cliff between St Brelade’s Bay and Ouaisne Bay is still my second favourite bench in the world. But always try to remember that there is a tier behind the bench that someone else could sit on, so when you think you’re say there by yourself, taking photos of your horror toys and talking to yourself, you may be being observed and judged by a silent man and his equally silent dog. And being judged by a dog is quite harsh.

I nearly went to a church service, by choice. My favourite church is St Brelade’s parish church and I love sitting in there by myself. I’m an atheist but for some weird reason when I sit in this church I always feel overcome with emotion and cry. Probably my evil demons having a panic inside me. I got to the church on the Sunday ten minutes before a service was going to start and deliberated on going in. I’ve only ever been to a church service on occasions such as weddings, funerals, and christenings, never for a ‘regular’ service. I decided not to go in because I didn’t want the magic of the church to be broken by sharing it with other people, and I felt like I would be spotted as an imposter when I entered. I loitered around the graves instead chatting to the dead.

Once again, even though at a different hotel to my last visit, I had a lovely Portuguese waiter brightening my mornings at breakfast. I should visit Portugal/Madeira.

I love hearing the clanking of boats in a deserted harbour at night. It makes me think of Jaws and I get comforting excited chills in my upper spine and left femur.

I often feel that having anxiety and depression is a bit mean and maybe someone else could have my anxiety instead, but sometimes I can see why I have the two together. The depression part of my brain always wants me to walk into the sea and keep walking and never come back. But the anxiety part of my brain won’t let me go into the water past my knees without shouting ‘shark’ at me and making me retreat to dry land.

I broke tradition of going to the cinema for a holiday film. I did go to the cinema and sat down in the foyer to choose what film I was going to see but there were lots of people and children there. Too peoply for me so I absorbed the smell of the cinema then left.

I aggravated my knee injury by walking ten miles a day, but when the coast and scenery is as amazing as Jersey it’s hard not to want to walk everywhere. But walking back from Normoint Point to St Aubin was my ultimate nemesis, it looked a lot nearer on the map and I did a lot of internal head swearing.

The railway track walk from Corbiere lighthouse to St Aubin was reviewed as a delight. But the day after my nemesis walk was probably not a good time to do this as I felt anything but delightful. Lots of benches along the route though to rest up so that was good!

Walking along St Brelade’s Bay is so relaxing and calming, until your brain keeps noticing the little worm casts in the sand and tells you that you’re about to be attacked by ‘Tremors’ like creatures at any moment. Cue a middle-aged lady in purple go from smiling strolling mode to panicked limping run mode, much to some dog walkers amusement.

I’m still disappointed that I see an abundance of dogs on the island but no cats. If I get to live in Jersey I shall have twenty cats to attempt to bring some balance.

I discovered the lovely Venezuelan lady in Costa Coffee in St Aubin brightens everyone’s day. She makes it impossible not to smile.

The bus drivers are still so friendly and polite, and the buses run like clockwork. All bus companies should strive to be like Jersey Buses.

The Old Court House in St Aubin is a wonderful place to stay and I would stay there again. With an old staircase and indoor well dating from 1450 it’s magical staying in a part of history.

I didn’t know there was a chapel in Jersey airport until I accidentally stumbled into it while trying to locate departure gate nine.

I still love Jersey, it’s still my favourite place on the planet, my go to happy place. And only eight months until I go back!

If I was writing for Emmerdale

Published September 28, 2018 by Naomi Rettig

Currently the only storyline I’m enjoying is Chas and Paddy’s pregnancy, and enjoying seems the wrong word, as we the viewer are about to hurtle face first into pain and anguish as baby Margarita’s appearance and exit is due next week. Three ply tissues at the ready. For me the scriptwriting for this has been excellent, and I hope Paddy and Chas can grieve together for support in the aftermath, that’s how I would write the continuation of this story for them.

To give them space I would move Charity in with Vanessa, Johnny, and Tracy, and have Noah moving in with them too. Cramped but it could be a fun family household. I’d like to see Charity making up for lost time with Ryan, and because I liked his ‘mum’ Irene I would like the pair of them to move into the village. I liked Irene’s unlikely friendship with Charity, even though prickly at times and I’d like to see this odd couple friendship develop. Irene tipsy at a club with Charity, and Charity making a quilt at a W.I meeting with Irene?

Eric and Faith are a good couple, so I’d leave them well alone, but I’d introduce Eric’s estranged brother Michael into the village. Having emigrated to Australia when younger he’s moved to reconnect with his brother after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He doesn’t tell Eric this though, so all does not go smoothly, and Michael takes a shine for Diane adding more complications.

I’d like to see Sam and Lydia get married, without a hitch, in a small outdoor ceremony. Simple but beautiful. And just as they settle into married life in Wishing Well cottage with Zak and Belle, Lisa comes home from Scotland. But she’s not alone. She’s back with a glam new look and a new husband, Adrian. Insisting she has just as much right to be there as Zak, and that she needs to be there for Belle after her ordeal with Lachlan. They all decide to try and live amicably together. But obviously there are a lot of problems and unresolved jealousy issues.

I don’t like Jesse and Marlon together, I just don’t feel the chemistry between them myself, so I’d have Marlon end their relationship when Jesse’s other son comes out of prison and causes tension, which I’m sure he will. I’d have Marlon decide on giving up on love but then falling for a food critic called Martha that visits The Woolpack, she keeps coming back as she can’t get enough of his pulled pork balls. They would form a long and loving relationship bonding over their love of food and zombie films. I’d have them become a solid couple, as Marlon and April deserve that.

Bernice and Dr Cavanagh are looking set for a fling currently, and I think they would make a good couple. I’d have Bernice end things with Daz properly and then start a legitimate relationship with Liam. Bernice having a doctor as a partner would feel like a queen bee, her airs and graces would skyrocket. And his daughter Leanna and Gabby having to spend time together could be made interesting with a lot of tension. I’d make Gabby turn vegan and become an animal rights campaigner as a new direction for her.

I didn’t enjoy the Rodney and Misty relationship, so I’d like to give Rodney a romantic break for a while. I’d have him attempt to flirt with a woman in her 40’s, Monique, when she turns up looking for him in the woolpack, but to discover she’s his daughter. A daughter from a one-night stand who Bernice and Nicola are horrified to know exists and do everything they can to try and make her go away.

At first I didn’t like Rhona with Pete, but they’ve grown on me like pretty moss, so I’d have a pregnancy thrown into the mix. Would Rhona want another baby so soon into their relationship? Would Pete? I’d write them going through with it and the commitment to each other. This would be hard for Paddy to watch, his ex-wife having a baby when his and Chas’s didn’t survive.

Another baby I’d launch on the village would be with Maya and David. She would actively seek to get pregnant with him, to control and take over his life slowly. This would be upsetting for Tracy even though she doesn’t want to be with David anymore it would still hurt her after her abortion. I would have Tracy cry on the shoulder of the recently single Daz and have those two get together as a couple.

I think the Sharmas need some new blood. I don’t like Rishi and Manpreet, so I’d knock that on the head. Like Rodney I feel Rishi needs some time out on the romantic front, so I’d have his sister Garima arrive to take charge of him. She would be bossy and matriarchal and want to interfere with his personal and business life. I would see this as light relief and potential for a good comedy element, but underneath it would be quite sad as Garima’s husband has recently died, all her children are living away and she feels empty and without purpose, hence the need to come and pester/nurture her baby brother Rishi.

Jai would also have a new love interest, as his eye catches a newcomer to the village, Bob’s daughter Roxy, who’s 23 now, as we know Jai likes a younger lady. Roxy turns up to stay with Bob, to escape a violent relationship, but doesn’t tell him that straight away. Laurel’s not happy having an extra body in the house but doesn’t say no. I don’t like Bob and Laurel together, so I’d put a lot of pressure on them to try and split them up. As well as Roxy moving in, I’d have Bob’s grandson T.J. stay for a bit, on holiday from Morocco. He’s be 15 now, and he’d have an unrequited crush on Gabby, even attempting to be a vegan to impress her. If I was feeling really mean towards Bob and Laurel I would have Bob’s son (Carly’s brother) Josh stay too, he’d be about 30 now. He could be a possible love interest for Priya, or Harriet even.

We know Kim Tate is coming back for a little while, so it will be interesting to see how she is written in, as she didn’t have anything to do with Joe Tate being his step-gran for a short time many years ago. I’d like to bring back the next generation of Tates. Joes cousin Jean would be 15 years old now, and Kim’s son James (Joes uncle) would be 22 years old now. They could bring a good vibrant dynamic to Home Farm. Joe, James, and Jean (Triple J) and Graham and Kim playing ‘mum and dad’ in a romantic relationship?

Orange Juice is not a Starter (my two week hospital vacation)

Published June 28, 2018 by Naomi Rettig

I can think of better ways to spend a fortnight, beach holiday, city break, meditation retreat, chilling out at home, but no, my body thought it would like a two week stay in Neville Hall hospital battling acute pancreatitis. No warning, no niggly little pains leading up to it, just full on ‘one of my internal organs is about to explode’ pain in my abdomen at 5 am on the morning of the royal wedding.

I don’t remember the ambulance journey or arriving in A&E but I was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and admitted to a ward, my home/prison for the next two weeks. Now, of course I am grateful for being looked after and mended by the NHS, and I do have a few positive things to say, but my overall experience was horrendous. I heard someone say ‘I’m in the best place’, that was a lie, a better place would have been the Nuffield private hospital in Hereford, but I don’t have private health insurance so I was stuck in the National Hellth System.

I’ll get my negative experiences out of the way first. Some are trivial but when I’m in extreme pain and coping with sleep deprivation my mind upgrades everything to ‘end of the world’ status. I vomited a lot during my stay, violent ‘let’s have a look at your stomach lining’ vomiting, it looked like swamp water and smelled much worse. Now I don’t expect nurses to come and hold my hand or rub my back whilst being sick, but no one ever came to check if I was ok, one of my fellow inmates rang her buzzer one night at 3am informing the nurse that came that I was being sick (it was truly like a scene of the Exorcist) only to be told ‘she has a bowl’ then walking away. An hour later I buzzed to ask if someone could remove the sick bowl from my table as the stench wasn’t nice for the others in my room to have to inhale. This request was responded to with an irritated sigh, as were most requests.

Urine collection was another bug bear of mine. My urine output had to be monitored and having the choice between having a catheter fitted or weeing into a cardboard bedpan for the nurses, I chose the latter. The idea was you’d take the bedpan to the toilet with you, use that, then hand it to a nurse to measure and record the amount. Straightforward. Well it would have been if you could either find a nurse at the nurses’ station, or you could interrupt their chatting and catch their attention if they were there. How they couldn’t spot me waiting most of the time I don’t know, I looked like the ghost of Christmas past lurking in front of them. Thus, I would leave my bedpan of urine on the desk top if there was no one there and get told off. I wasn’t just leaving it there to be a rebel or annoy people though, walking to the toilet was such an effort I’d be about to pass out so leaving the bedpan on the counter and collapsing back into bed was preferable to passing out at the nurses’ station and my urine ending up all over the floor with me. When I did try and explain why I’d left it, I got told to leave it on the toilet. That’s not practical when at least seven other patients are using that toilet, I didn’t want anyone else’s urine topping up my measurements. ‘Can I give you this please’ I said to one nurse, ‘what am I supposed to do with that?’ she asked me in an accusatory manner. ‘Measure it and record it on my chart at the end of my bed.’ Jeez. Why ask the patient what you’re doing?

Suppository in the dark was another lowlight for me. I was on morphine hourly but when that wasn’t working for my pain I could have a diclofenac suppository, which worked well for me as it knocked me out. One time at 3.30am I buzzed for one of these, I got one of the miserable nurses who went off to get it with grumpy sigh. If you choose to be a nurse and you choose to work nights, don’t take it out on the patients. She came back with the suppository and the attitude. I curled up into position. ‘Your light’s not working’ she complained to me. I don’t know where she was expecting me to produce a light bulb from. More sighing ensued followed by the unwrapping of the suppository. ‘Wrong place!’ I quickly said. ‘I know’ she growled. If she bloody knew, why was she trying to shove it in the wrong slot?! ‘I’m going to have to put the main light on now’ she hissed. The main lights went on, fluorescent tubes pinging into life and lighting up the room like a football stadium. Hallelujah, I got my pain relief. Did she turn the main light back off? No. Now I know she didn’t just forget to, it was nearly 4am and the rest of the bays on the ward were in darkness. I presume she left it on in spite, but I was out of it in about 15 mins thanks to the diclofenac, so it was only my three fellow inmates that suffered from the bright light torture.

Lack of sleep, quality sleep, doesn’t sit well with my body or my mind. I’m sure a lot of my delusions, hallucinations, and unbalanced thoughts I had in there was not helped by the lack of sleep. I know it’s pretty much impossible to get sleep in hospital, it’s a hospital not a luxury spa resort, if you’re not throwing up or writhing in pain yourself you’re having to listen to the others in your room do so. One thing that really annoyed me though was being woken at 7am every day (when having only just managed to doze back off after much vomiting, pain, and having IV antibiotics plugged into me at 5am) just so the auxiliary staff could make my bed.

Now for patients that could get up and about, I kind of understand the need for a routine of get up and sit in your chair. But for patients like me who were too ill to do so and were staying in bed I failed to see the point. It was bad enough having the curtains flung open and being scorched by sunlight like an ancient vampire, and bad enough having two overly cheery valleys ladies chatting about their night out while they did so, without the shrill screech of ‘c’mon ladies get out of your beds so we can make them’ every morning. I’m not a morning person anyway even with a good nights’ sleep, can you tell?

I did challenge the one auxiliary one day. As I stayed in bed rebelling against the order, I asked, ‘Why? As soon as you make it I’m going to be getting straight back into it.’ To which I got the reply, ‘because it’s my job to make the beds every morning’. What a jobsworth.

When she finished making my bed, and not even changing sheets, just tucking the sheet and blanket in, she would raise the bed to its highest setting in an attempt to stop me getting back in. ‘You need to sit in the chair for breakfast,’ she’d say. ‘I’m nil by mouth,’ I’d remind her while stroppily yanking the blanket and sheet off my bed.

Another bug bare was at wash time. The auxiliaries would come around and ask who needed a bowl of water to wash with and who was going to the shower. I’d request a bowl of water, and every day the same annoying woman would say ‘why don’t you have a shower?’ and every day I’d reply, ‘because I feel like I’m about to vomit and faint, I’m in pain, and I have a cannula in my foot that makes it awkward and painful to walk, and I don’t want to risk knocking it as I have collapsing veins.’ She’d then reluctantly bring me a luke warm bowl of water.

‘Quiet time’ was good and bad. According to one of the doctors that came to find one of my veins during a ‘quiet time’ session we were the only ward in the hospital that had it. Basically, ‘quiet time’ was an enforced afternoon nap. After lunch the curtains would be closed, and the lights switched off. Anyone not already in bed would be told to get into bed. Now the nice part was getting some extra sleep, although as my bed was nearest the nurses’ station I often lay there having to listen to details of their holidays as the nurses chatted all the way through ‘quiet time’. The bad part of ‘quiet time’ was being woken abruptly two hours later by the lights going on and the curtains flung open. I would feel groggy and grumpy and can totally sympathise with toddlers being woken from nap time.

The thing that made upset me the most was something very trivial. I was nil by mouth to start with for a few days, then I was on fluids only. The only fluid items on the menu were fruit juice and soup, so for two days I had that. On the third day of fruit juice and soup my tray arrived with only soup. At first I thought the juice had been forgotten, until I checked my menu I’d ticked the boxes on. Someone had written ‘you can only choose one item from the starters’ with the word one underlined.

I was immediately annoyed. Firstly, I could read that rule but as I was only having those two items and not ticking anything from main, main accompaniments, desserts, dessert accompaniments, I thought common sense would indicate that I wasn’t being greedy wanting two starters but that’s all I could manage. The person plating up the previous days obviously had common sense. I was even more indignant due to the patient next to me having a tray so full of food they had difficulty fitting it all on. She’d come in late and was out of it, so a nurse had ticked everything as she didn’t know what she’d like. So, there was Becky (not her real name) having an all you can eat buffet banquet while I had four tablespoons of parsnip and rosemary soup looking sorry for itself in lonely abandonment on my tray.

My second main gripe was, and still is, that fruit juice is not a starter, it’s a beverage. It was a starter in the seventies, when I was seven years old on the rare occasions my family ate out, orange juice was on the menu as a starter, and that was thought quite exciting and exotic. But thirty-nine years later culinary notions have changed, is orange juice listed as a starter in any eatery these days? I protested by sending the menu sheet back with my tray with my reply added to the note: ‘fruit juice is not a starter unless you are still living in the 1970’s’. It probably didn’t get back to the person who had originally written it but it made me feel better in a petty way.

There was a lovely catering lady though, in fact all the catering staff that gave out the food were brilliant, but one lady was really kind to me. She knew I was on fluids only and I enjoyed the orange juice so she would give me an extra juice when serving tea and coffee. I wasn’t being greedy, I wasn’t having tea or coffee. This little act of kindness made a big difference. Also, the evening tea lady remembered that I liked a little cup of milk instead of a hot drink, that felt so nice that someone would remember that rather than just seeing us as bodies in beds.

The best random act of kindness made me cry. And again it’s quite trivial talking about it now but at the time it overwhelmed me. When I was allowed solids, I’d been violently sick at tea time so couldn’t eat my food (not pleasant for the others having to listen to me while trying to eat theirs). A couple of hours later when my anti-sickness tablets kicked in I was feeling hungry, quite a rarity for me in hospital. I asked one of the nurses if there was a spare yogurt or something left over from tea time. She said she’d have a look but doubted it. She came back and said that everything had been taken back down, I thanked her for looking and then she did the most wonderful thing. She offered to make me a piece of toast from the nurses’ staff room if I wanted.

Now to lots of people someone making you a piece of toast is not a big deal, but I was so low and demoralized in hospital that this lovely nurse making me a piece of toast when she didn’t have to was such a lovely act of kindness it brought me to tears. She probably would’nt even remember doing this but for me it will stay in my memory banks in the feely good section. Best slice of toast ever.

The hospital food makes it into my positive section. If I ate it now it might be different, but when you haven’t eaten for days food tastes so delicious. I think one of the catering staff thought I was taking the micky for a couple of days. On eating soup for the first time I told her that it was the best soup ever. Then the four mouthfuls of mashed potato I had was the best mashed potato ever. She thought I was being sarcastic as it was dry and lumpy but to me at the time it did taste like the best mash ever. When she realised I was being serious every day she would join in, ‘best omelette ever?’ she’d ask with knowing look. I’d smile and say, ‘oh yes.’ These were the rare occasions I smiled in hospital, when being treated like an individual human being.

There were four nurses too over my fortnight in there that were brilliant and treated everyone as individuals and not just bodies in beds. I only wish they could be cloned and replaced with the majority that need to rethink their career choices.

Another positive was the wonderful anesthetic doctors that could get needles into my veins. I have stealth veins. They don’t like to show themselves and if caught they collapse and disappear again quite quickly. Hence during my two weeks hooked up to the various IV drips I had cannulas in both crooks of my arms, both wrists, both backs of my hands, and both feet numerous times. For someone needle phobic with anxiety this is a complete nightmare, but there were three wonderful doctors that would be paged when a vein collapsed, and a new cannula had to go in. I called them team amazing as these three would get needles in me when many others couldn’t. I never thought I’d be grateful for someone getting needles into my veins, but I heard someone say I had a good vein in my neck, so I was very grateful they managed to avoid that.

Being incredibly ill in hospital and thinking you might not make it back out puts life into perspective. The consultant told me the acute pancreatitis wasn’t due to my poor diet, but I don’t believe that. Before hospital I was binge eating sugary food, despite my type 2 diabetes diagnosis fifteen months ago. I’d been living in denial and didn’t care about myself or my body. I hadn’t told my family I had diabetes, the first they knew about it was when the paramedic was in my room asking if I had any medical conditions.

I had time to take stock of my life while in hospital and how I was treating my body. Whether or not I had contributed to my pancreatitis by neglect of health, I decided that I never wanted to go into hospital again, and if avoiding that meant I needed to overhaul my eating habits and make my body as healthy as I could, then that’s what I’d do. It was like a switch had been flicked.

I’m now only eating natural healthy foods. I’m a vegetarian, and have been for 40 years, but now I no longer eat processed foods, fried foods, pizza, cakes, biscuits, sweets etc. Basically, if it’s not nutritionally good for my body – it doesn’t go in. I no longer want my body to be a bouncy castle, I’m transforming it into a temple of wellness. It’s going to take a while to undo all the abuse I’ve inflicted over the years but eating healthily is having some good side effects already. I lost two stone during my two weeks in hospital and since then I’ve lost another half a stone, not by following any diet, but just by eating natural healthy food. I’ve turned into a preacher of gut microbes, read up on them if you don’t know much about them, they’re the key to good health!

So, while there were memorable good moments that were outweighed by my bad moment memories, I’m counting my whole experience as a positive. Acute pancreatitis might have actually saved my life.

Five Ways I Didn’t Kill Myself in Hospital

Published June 21, 2018 by Naomi Rettig

(WARNING – even though humorous, I do talk about suicide, avoid if this is a trigger for you.)

I mentally broke on day five in hospital. I was in extreme pain and constantly vomiting, I wasn’t improving and felt like that was how I’d spend the rest of my remaining days. If euthanasia was on offer I’d have taken it. I did ask a nurse for this service and got the reply ‘I’ll bring my gun in tomorrow.’ She obviously thought I was joking and played along. Now the pain has gone I’m glad there wasn’t that option available to me, but in my despair and delirium I was trying to figure out a way to kill myself.

My first thought was jump out of the window. But as I was only on floor two and the windows only opened six inches I had to rule that out. I’m not that skinny and a fall from two floors would only result in a sprained ankle. Realistically, I reasoned with myself, I’d need a fall from sixteen floors to die. The hospital only had five or six floors, I couldn’t remember which, so that would probably result in just a broken leg, if my fat suit didn’t break my fall completely. Aha, I thought, I’ll dive off the fifth/sixth floor head first with my arms by my side, that should do it. Feeling smug I remembered that I was struggling to walk the ten steps to the toilet and back, so trying to navigate my way to the roof was a non-starter. Drat.

My next idea was to save up the liquid morphine I was allowed hourly and overdose. I was given it in little plastic measuring cups and they didn’t watch me drink it, so it was doable. I had a bottle of Fruit Shoot next to my bed and I thought if I drank all of that I could tip my shots of morphine into there until it was full. Great idea. Except I would have to stay in even more pain if I wasn’t taking the morphine hourly, and Fruit Shoot bottles aren’t exactly big, so even if I drank a bottle full of morphine sulphate, without vomiting, I’d probably only make myself extremely woozy. Drat.

I observed the drugs trolley closely when it came around. Being a pharmacy dispenser I know which drugs which drugs will cause the most damage and kill me. I’ll grab some from the trolley and use those I thought. But the trolley was never unattended long enough for me to pull off a heist. Drat.

Watching a nurse use a syringe to inject anti-emetics into my IV, I had an idea which I thought was my best chance. I could inject an air bubble into my vein trough a cannula and bingo, it would travel up to my heart and kill me. I was ready to swoop on any forgotten syringe that got left behind, but unfortunately/fortunately for me this never happened. Drat.

My final idea was the least likely to work out, but by this time my brain was clutching at straws. My boss is a pharmacist and I had the genius idea that he could come and visit me, bringing drugs in with him to finish me off. But there were too many flaws in this plan. While it would solve my problem, it would no doubt be traced back to him and his visit and he’d lose his business and go to prison. I’m quite proud of myself that I was unselfish even in pain and didn’t want him to get into trouble for me. Although I had thought about how I could get my life insurance policy changed, to him being the beneficiary, so I could bribe him with that to do it. It was only because I knew he’d want more than the eighty thousand pay out to endure a prison sentence that I abandoned exploring that option more. Drat.

I happy to report that now I’m recovering at home I’m glad that none of my options were feasible, and I’m glad that I’m still here on the planet. In fact, I’m so glad and grateful that I am, I’m finally taking control of looking after my health, so I can avoid ever going to a hospital ever again.

But, I am increasing my life insurance policy, just in case.