More hospital knitting.

Well, here we are, more hospital knitting! And funnily enough, I used the same wool for this little hat as I was using the last time I was in hospital. As the ‘Christmas jumper’ is now too heavy to transport, I wanted something small and portable and this little ‘Downton’ style hat fitted the bill perfectly. This is a free pattern I found on Ravelry; knitting folk are so generous with their talent and thank you to Annie Chowela for sharing this pattern (I’m sure most knitters know of http://www.ravelry.com, but if not, it is the most wonderful free and friendly resource – [my user name is laineenfrance]). The hat still needs to be blocked to finish it off, but it looks really nice, and it is still definitely hat weather! This is the link to the hat pattern:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/downton

Hospital again, you ask? In the words of Monty Python, “now for something completely different”, I was having an operation on a bunion and a couple of other toes. All went extremely well and with my new special post op. shoes, amazingly I am walking around pain free and reasonably well after a week.

Of course, life is not quite as normal and G has taken over in the kitchen (not his natural habitat), but he has acquired a few new recipes for his repertoire, and I had made lots of “ready meals” in the freezer to be prepared for my convalescence. Fortunately we don’t use the Findus kind that has dominated the news this week.

G is also in charge of Alba Yarns, as I have set up my HQ dowstairs for the short term. So he does all the running to the wool store and order packing. As the weather has been so miserable, he would not have been able to get out in the garden or play petanque anyway.

Also in the news this week has been the issues of care, or lack of it in UK hospitals. Having worked in the NHS in a past life, I was unsurprised by these recent revelations. When the NHS was born in 1948, Aneurin Bevan developed something that was the envy of the world, but we are living in different times. Yes, the NHS started as a political achievement, but politics is choking the NHS in the 21st century. The service can’t cope with meeting targets and caring for patients. Don’t blame ‘the administrators’, fewer wouldn’t be needed if politicians, or should I say civil servants (‘Yes Minister’, is alive and well, I know) had fewer demands.

Well done to Julie Bailey for fighting the establishment and for mounting her brave campaign to bring people to account in Stafford Hospital.

The thought of uncaring hospital staff is terrible. Unforgivable. My mother had a very bad experience just before her death. I complained. As an employee working in Patient and Public Involvement, it was probably easier for me than most. The complaint was upheld. The perpetrators were brought to account. But the nurses in question were only moved to day shift and monitored as a result. I hope they are still, as caring needs to come from within.

Having had a number of recent experiences in the French health system, It might also be time for patients to take more responsibility for their own care. Here, we all keep our own x-rays and results of any tests we have – so no storage or administrators needed for that. Patients have more responsibility; they make their own appointments. I needed a nurse to come to give me a daily injection and take blood every four days when I got out of hospital. I had to phone and organise that. If you need a blood test here, you go to a ‘Laboratoire’, with or without an appointment, have your blood test and pick up the results the same day. No waiting. No phoning your GP for the results. Of course we are comparing a system that is partially privately funded and even here the French goverment is looking very carefully at the ever increasing cost of care.

There is great work done in lots of UK hospitals every day. But where standards are not good or things go wrong patients or families must feel able to raise issues or complain without fear of repercussions and the NHS needs to react and change the culture of closing ranks, and adapt and learn from patient feedback.

I wish there was an easy answer but there isn’t. Get well soon NHS.

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Knitting as therapy

This piece of knitting saved my sanity this week. I’m sure of this. Let me explain.

Earlier this year I made an appointment with my GP to get a repeat prescription ( none of that automatic stuff here in France). She is thorough. Took a long time with her stethoscope and asked if I felt palpitations. I hadn’t, at least not before that appointment. But from then on I thought I did.

Appointments with a cardiologist followed. ECGs, Holter monitor and stress test on exercise bike. This was a man with very poor patient skills. “Tres mal.” “Tres mauvais.” He repeated. We sat in stunned silence. You need to go into hospital for further tests. After the initial shock, I went back to my GP, who explained that I should not worry and carry on life as normal. She still seemed very pleased that she found the extra beat in my heart said she was determined to get to the root of the problem.

What has knitting to do with this you ask. This was the week that was. Three days and two nights in a French heart hospital. In a department specialising in the electric function of the heart no less. I should be grateful, but this is tricky for someone who used to report on hospitals on a past life… I took a magazine (read twice), a book in French (challenging) and some knitting. I really don’t know how I would have survived without it to pass the time and focus my thoughts on something other than my room with no view. A private room has it’s advantages, but there were such long spells of nothingness, it seemed a bit like being in prison.

I won’t bore you with all the story, but never has someone been so glad to be detached to the oodles of electrodes stuck to me for 48 hours. Freedom and home – bliss! A shower – sheer luxury!

The outcome of the visit means I now have to take betablockers. And every time I pick up my knitting I still feel soothed by it. Mind you this sweater will always remind me of my inprisonment!

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