Not for the first time, I have the NHS to thank. When you consider what an extraordinary redistributive project the whole thing is, the fact that there are odd bits of it that don't work especially well is hardly surprising. Some people I know have struggled to get the best out of the mental health services, for example, and there will always be the occasional story of someone whose exceptional case is mishandled for whatever reason. But these should not blind us to what the NHS is. Some of my family, by way of example, have a tendency to think in terms of the service being as straightforward as complain-diagnose-treat, and that any deviation from that simple pattern is because of a lack of insight or efficiency in the practitioners. That's a bit like seeing children failing to get top grades as the fault of their teachers. There are many ways it might have come to pass, most unavoidable, and the treatment, such as it is, is often a best-guess at what might improve matters. We have accumulated incredible knowledge of the human body and the various ways it goes wrong, but the beautifully clean-cut examples that Dr Google provides never seem to quite fit the patterns that we as patients present to the doctors.
Just so any unsuspecting readers are aware, there may be dad-jokes ahead. Let's start with this blindingly obvious one: the last place anyone needs to go when they are ill is to a hospital full of other, more ill people. That'll do for a start. The other people here have illnesses and injuries that are a little bit more obvious than mine, but it is still a privilege to be looked after without question, judgement or prejudice by some fantastic people. There seems to be a bit of a spirit about the place, despite the terrifying nature of what is happening to people all around. I have ended up looking up whether the painkillers I am taking lead to melancholy or depression (apparently they do not) as I start to take in the stories of these people around me, to hear about the lives they have led and how they might be beginning to face the end of those lives. I don't know whether this is Sheffield-specific, but there seems to be quite a high chance of starting a random conversation with the family surrounding the person in the bay opposite, or in my case a conversation with the nurse about the way the universe expands.
In my family, the legend is that Huntsman 7 is the one to avoid. According to the inter web, though, Huntsman 7 is orthopaedics, which you wouldn't normally associate with impending doom. I've only ever been a casual visitor as a patient to the actual hospital, although I do have some fairly dense associations with the Longley Centre just over the way. But everyone dies of something, and generally the thing that you die of will hospitalise you first. It's unfair to expect hospitals, therefore, to never let anyone die. They do somewhat focus the mind on the possibility, though.
I don't have some sort axe to grind on this. It's more of a kind of thank you, a nod of respect for those people - many of whom are EU migrants or indeed from further afield - who choose to involve themselves in what must at times be a very difficult set of professions. That some of those people who work to make things better for other people end up suffering on the wrong end anti-immigration sentiment is a great shame, because the guiding principle of the NHS was that you don't bother with establishing eligibility over fifty layers of bureaucracy before administering treatment. You just get on with it. So even as I spend a second night away from home, I can take some comfort in the fact that there is still that sentiment here. Just get on with it, treat people with kindness and compassion, and worry about the cost later.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought