Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the medical ward.

A very lovely friend came to visit me today. Deirdre McCloskey is an extraordinary and inspiring transwoman, a free market economist whose views affected me profoundly in writing THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE and was able to come and see the show half way through a lecture tour of Europe.

The wonderful thing about having a houseguest is that it roused me from a state of sadness and depression. I had to get going, make her room nice, sort myself out...

And she is a wonderful houseguest. An extraordinary thing happened at lunchtime - that I'm not allowed to talk about - and we celebrated together.

And then saw Adam Smith's house. And Adam Smith's grave - Deirdre being a devotee.

And then went to the hospital. "This place is terrible" says Jean as I arrive. "They are so disorganised".

That is, in fact, the impression I get. It's not that they're bad people, as far as I can tell, but they don't seem to have adequate medical cover and the nursing staff do not seem to be organised in an effective way at all.

This afternoon, as last night, Jean's alarm went off because her drip had run out. She is suffering acute kidney failure. She needs fluids. She needs to drink loads, and she needs a drip.

Last night the same alarm went off. And nobody came. And while I managed to get someone to turn off the alarm last night, I had failed to get someone to change the drip.

Today i thought I would do better. The first three attempts failed. People would come, look a bit helplessly through her file, and say, "There's nothing written up" and then "I'll ask".

And then disappear.

I happened to see the doctor in the middle of this. The third visit, the third attempt.

She was perfectly pleasant and willing to help. But clearly pretty low down the hierarchy; generally working on a completely different ward; no knowledge of Jean; and no access to the treatment plan.

But she did her best. I did learn something from her. And as I left, i said "Please write up Jean's drip".

And so the fourth nurse came, with a full bag, and hooked it up to the machine.

I felt triumphant. But after ten minutes it became clear that while she had hooked it up to the machine, and the machine was functioning perfectly, she had neglected to hook it up to Jean.

So the drip was dripping onto the floor.

So off I went again. it's important to be pleasant on these occasions, there's no sense blaming individuals, but the first nurse said "I'm doing something else". as if my request was a bit outrageous. But she did get the other nurse back, who did hook the drip up to Jean. And then left without cleaning up all the liquid that had by now dripped onto the floor.

In the circumstances, Jean's spirits remain remarkably high. But I wonder how much longer she can possibly withstand so health destroying an environment.

And then off to the show. Another full house. This is unprecedented outside the Festival.

Lovely meeting with Orla O'Loughlin, the Traverse's new artistic director. She said the play has already far surpassed its target for ticket sales for the entire run.

And then I got home, and there was me on the trailer for SEX CHIPS AND THE HOLY GHOST. Which we filmed yesterday. Looking remarkably like a nun.

But that is another story.

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