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Jamie Susskind @jamiesusskind
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Had a nasty little accident this morning. Nothing life-threatening, just blood and broken bone. Thought I’d tweet about my NHS experience as it unfolds.
Operation in the morning. Will probably be an inpatient until late Monday. I’m in a big London teaching hospital.
Triage: pretty efficient and quick. No-nonsense. Initial wait of 40mins for an X-ray maybe a little too long — I bled quite a bit on the floor of the waiting room and it wasn’t nice for others. X-ray staff were charming. Other patients also really lovely. Strangers.
A&E doctors were an absolute delight. Funny, charming, not obviously stressed despite being overworked. Generous with the painkillers.
When it was clear that it couldn’t be fixed in A&E (after a good deal of yanking and grimacing) the surgeon blazed in, cocky and confident. I liked him. Firing off orders to junior doctors.
The nurses are just insanely nice. And I’ve noticed patients aren’t always polite to them. But my goodness, they are sweet and attentive. Much more human than i might have expected. And the ward I’ve been put on is really clean and spacious.
The only hiccup is the berk next to me playing some kind of gruesome slasher out loud on his iPad. I’ve been quite English about it so far but if it persists I’m going to (extremely politely) ask him to wear headphones. Can be doing without that kind of noise today.
Don’t want to make too much of a fuss because my mum is threatening to bring me Nando’s which would make me the least popular guy here. Was asked my religion and then offered kosher meals which I was impressed by.
I’d say the staff I’ve met have been 30% obviously British, about 30% European (mainly Greek) and about 40% neither (middle eastern and from the subcontinent).
Watching the junior doctors work reminds me a bit of my own work - client/patient in a position of almost utter dependency. But they’re much (much) more impressive. So many skills required - knowledge, dexterity, calm, affability. And they work so damn hard.
There’s a strict and obvious hierarchy as well, among doctors but also nurses and administrative staff. It feels very institutional. I find it reassuring. Chain of command.
My mum arrived with excessive supplies. Box of Celebrations for the nurses (of which she was formerly one). Frowningly checking my charts. #mum
Got chatting to bloke next to me. 30. In with multiple stab wounds. Been here 2 weeks. Thinks people haven’t noticed him smoking in loo. (They have.) gradually getting feeling back in his fingers.
He’s in love with the girl two beds down. Apparently she’s so good-looking he is scared to speak to her. And thinks she’ll judge his wounds. He’s speaking pretty loudly so (curtains notwithstanding) I think she knows how he feels
Over our dinner (breaded fish, not bad) we discuss religion. I’m the first Jewish person he’s spoken to. (He’s Muslim, formerly devout.) I have eaten too many Kit Kat mini bites and feel like a corpulent invalid. Haven’t yet requested the morphine I’m allowed
It’s not a fashion show but I was born to wear DVT socks
It’s odd how just being an inpatient makes you feel less able to do things. The passivity of lying still while others move around you. Small tasks start to seem exhausting. Laziness sets in.
I’ve been asked if I’m allergic to anything no fewer than 13 times. I don’t mind. The staff seem neurotic about it here - also about handwashing
Had a subcutaneous injection to thin blood. Standard apparently if you’re lying down for a few days. They do it by grabbing a wee bit of tummy chub.
Tetanus shot for precaution. Nurse briskly and discreetly corrects doctor’s prescribed dosage.
I like it when the medical assistants say “knock knock” before pulling back your curtain
I am strongly conscious of the checklists applied to me. Protocols, routine questions, checks. Again I find them reassuring: good checklists distill institutional wisdom so staff don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The best ones manage to maintain human touch even in routine Qs
I wish I hadn’t befriended the guy next to me. He’s now playing music. Playing music. In a ward of ill people. After I take this morphine I’m going to tell him to put a (DVT) sock in it
It feels odd when you’re otherwise healthy but just one limb needs acute attention. You lie there just the same as those whose whole bodies are racked with malady
Just tried to do a bit of light work. Impossible. Brain fuzzy. I have newfound respect for people who have to work through pain and painkillers every day
I’m genuinely surprised by how much space I have. Big comfy bed that moves up and down. A curtained cubicle of about 2.5 x 3m. Good storage unit for the numerous items of spare clothing brought by my mum (“just in case”).
Just had a juicy whack of morphine. Either my tweets will take on a new astral, ethereal quality or I will pass out
It’s intimate, hospital. My body feels prodded, poked, cut, injected. I wonder how doctors and nurses still find mystery in others’ bodies in their private lives.
Call me a metropolitan liberal elitist but all day I’ve been courteously and expertly looked after by non-UK native staff who (let’s face it) are not paid very well - and I’m just unspeakably grateful to them. And sorry for what my compatriots too often say about them.
NEIGHBOUR ROMANCE UPDATE: he spoke to the girl two beds down. Unfortunately she is “married or some shit”. He’s taking it bravely but as the lights go out and the curtains are drawn, I wonder what hurts more: rejection or the multiple stab wounds. (It’s the stab wounds)
The general feedback is that the tweet quality has risen post-opioid. Noted.
The time is approaching to don the hospital gown, ready for op in the morning. Flowing, floral, backless, assless: not so different from my usual Saturday night garb
If the hospital could speak, its language would be beeps. Lying here I hear a symphony of beeps. A cacophony. Distant faraway beeps communing with nearby urgent ones
Not to state the obvious (and to channel Superhans) this morphine is seriously moreish
Ok folks, thanks all for such lovely messages! To reiterate: I will be absolutely fine. Comparatively, not a very serious injury. Gonna try get some shuteye xxx
After a short sleep I have woken up, inexplicably ravenous. I’m still allowed to eat for another hour pre-op and am tearing into the maternal supplies. I don’t know how my mum knew that Sainsbury’s chicken pakora would be a delicious midnight feast - not a natural hospital choice
Never let me complain about others’ noise on this ward again. It’s 1am and I am pneumatically chomping through the crunchiest crisps of all time
Celebrations for dessert. Snickers and Malteasers the best-tasting tonight.
Back to sleep now. Arrhythmic snoring and occasional outbreaks of flatulence among the inmates make it a challenging slumber environment
Morning! Getting operated on first thing, as promised yesterday. Different surgeon to the one I was initially told, but that happens. It shouldn’t be a complex procedure
To paraphrase Thomas Fuller, “Be you never so high, surgical underpants will make you look a fool”
Spotting me in my gown, heartsick neighbour is kind enough to say I look “sexy”. He then adds “you wouldn’t want to be with me in prison bruv 😅” which I thought was a touch forward
The dialogue between an English patient and medical assistant is just an unceasing stream of two-way apologies. “I’m so sorry” “Could i just?” “Could you possibly?” “If I may”
There’s a furtive conference taking place at the end of my bed. Muttered whisperings. I nonchalantly strain to hear
Anaesthetist seems chill. Like she’s done this before.
Back from theatre. Op seems to have been a success. Very woozy. Haven’t felt this sedate since a tricky three week trial settled on the first morning
Op was to set compound fracture and clean and stitch wound. Unsurprisingly, less pain now
I’m told the lessening in pain is mostly due to copious painkillers and that it will in fact be very sore again soon. #splendid
Slightly odd food-ordering system. Done by cuisine without specifying the dish. I punted for “Caribbean” for dinner and am holding out for jerk chicken (😍)
Hobbled to the loo. Found a new white beard hair. I am now the ward elder, genially dispensing wisdom and Celebrations to newcomers
One thing I’ve noticed, in my new capacity as Hospital Manager, is that the double doors all swing shut making it hard for the porters to wheel people through. They should be automatic and stay open for a few seconds! #expenditure
I’m getting way too much sympathy on here for a very contained injury. Operation done, I already feel like a drain on the nation’s resources
Sister [head nurse on ward]: have you passed urine?

Visiting dad (@richardsusskind): yes I have

Sister:

Dad: sorry
Gunning for an early discharge. May happen but lots of hoops to jump through. Nurses fab
Cleared my throat and began a small speech in thanks. Oscar-style. Sister politely listened for a few moments and (as I approached the final peroration) quietly handed me a patient satisfaction questionnaire to fill in
Said my goodbyes to Lovesick Neighbour. I’ll miss him. He said he would put me in his rap lyrics - so if there’s ever a breakout Grime hit called “Late Night Comfort Eater” you’ll know it’s about me
On reflection, my main feeling, besides pride in the NHS, is surprise at how good it all was — only because I haven’t been a patient in a while and you read all these horror stories.
At every turn I was like “that’s much better than I expected”. And I know these folks are doing more and more with less and less. At times I had to be a little patient (no pun intended) but that aside, it was world-class. I’m filled with professional admiration.
I’m going to my folks’ place now for the best painkiller of all, my mum’s chicken soup (“Jewish penicillin”).

Also loads of codeine.

/ends
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