My thanks to NHS Highland

Moved by NHS Highland’s care and kindness

Still life with tea, blanket and a splint. (Note: I’m not very good at staying still)

In the 20+ years since I’ve been writing, I‘ve never had the luxury of someone to type for me. Picture the scene; I am reclined on the settee, while Mr Marr picks away at the keys on my laptop with two index fingers. (He’s frowning at that.)

I like to imagine myself as a slightly less wrinkly Dame Barbara Cartland. She famously dictated her 700+ novels while reclining in full make-up and pink ball gown, sipping champagne. My reality is different – I have a cup of tea, a blanket, and a splint on my wrist, courtesy of Raigmore Hospital.

The details of what happened are irrelevant, other than to say that I went from sitting on this same settee on Friday night, thinking my wrist was a wee bit sore, to vomiting with pain in A&E less than an hour later. IV antibiotics and morphine, X-Rays, and a cup of hot, sweet tea sorted me out, and I was allowed home to my own bed for a few hours before a 9am appointment with the consultant on Saturday.

This isn’t a pity post, it’s a thank-you.

I’m fine. My diagnosis (currently uncertain) is not the point of the story. The point is this; I was moved beyond being able to control my emotions, by the care, kindness, and professionalism of every single person I met at Raigmore in the wee small hours. In fact, I’m welling up again as I dictate this.

Much is said of how broken and underfunded our NHS is. There was a report in The Times at the weekend suggesting that people are falling out of love with the NHS. Rubbish. We are not. We may sometimes feel let down, frustrated, and overlooked by a system that is overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for privatisation.

Decades of chronic underfunding, plus the horror of the pandemic, and staff shortages, in part due to Brexit, mean the system is crumbling. But the people who work within it, those who have stayed, whose departments are understaffed and under-resourced, who work long hours without breaks and are often underappreciated and underpaid, are doing their best. And NHS Highland’s best, in looking after me last weekend, was bloody brilliant.

It’s wrong to single people out…

It’s wrong to pick out any of the staff who treated me, but I will. Triage nurse Lianne immediately recognised my pain and bumped me up the queue. Doctor Eve was kind and gentle, but reassuringly thorough, following the ‘worst case scenario’ route, just in case.

Eve left no stone unturned in her search for a diagnosis, pulling up records of my recent visits to Raigmore (quite a few), taking a detailed history (it’s long), and waking a colleague for a middle-of-the-night consultation.

There were several Nicolas and a Nicole, too, and a lovely male nurse who wrapped me in a blanket before painlessly inserting a canula. And the nurse who brought my tea? What a pet.

NHS systems are broken. But the people within it work miracles with what they have; to care, to treat, to heal. Thank you.

The need for open debate

Last week and old friend and I went see a former classmate from Law School in conversation with political comedian Matt Forde. SNP MP Joanna Cherry, a formidable character even when we were in our teens, was Matt’s guest. While we shared snacks, Jo talked about her life as an MP, and about bringing the government to court over illegal activities. She talked of campaigning against section 28 in the 80s, about rape and death threats for her stance on women’s rights, the impact of her summary removal as an SNP Minister.

It was a fascinating hour, recorded for Matt’s Podcast Political Party, and well worth a listen. But the real take-away? Joanna’s passion for the power of debate, over today’s knee-jerk cancel culture.

Polarisation of opinions is perhaps the most toxic, destructive element of our society. How do we ever move forward without being able to engage in open discussion?

Bravo – to Daughter #2 and to streaming.

An unexpected bonus of the pandemic is our lives being lived more online. Last Thursday I was in Inverness while Daughter #2 was in robes, graduating from Glasgow Uni with a First Class Masters in Biomedical Engineering.

I wasn’t snubbing her achievements, but I’d committed to hosting the Highland Business Women’s Awards before her graduation date was announced.

So, while the rest of them were there in person, I was in the hairdresser watching online. We facetimed during the champagne reception in the Quad.

I was gutted to miss it, but it helped me feel included. Hooray for progress!

This column is published by Highland News and Media in newspapers across the north of Scotland. If you can, please support print media and the future of independent  journalism by buying a paper, or subscribing online. 

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