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Nil By Mouth – our man on the NHS front line

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The third in an occasional series by TCW writer Nick Booth, who is being treated for cancer.

 Thursday December 5

THEY’VE done the stoma reversal operation. And it was the best birthday present I’ve had in decades!

The anaesthetist said my eyes lit up when I was offered this gift.

‘I promise I’ll look after it,’ I told the surgeon. ‘Ohhhh ohhh please let me have it,’ I begged her.

‘Well, OK, I’ll think about it,’ she said. ‘You said you’d look after your diet – remember? – and you never did.’

Urrrrr! I said. I so wanted a hernia op! None of my friends have got hernias!

But neither have I now. AND I’ve got a morphine injection button!

Happy 59th birthday everybody!

Friday December 6

I feel the worst is over now (famous last words). I’m already starting to miss my colostomy bag. Have I done the right thing? Maybe I’m just suffering from rectal remorse.

Wednesday December 11  

My bowels went into shock as is normal after an operation and a long lay-off from action. But it’s been a week now and even the doctors are concerned at the lack of action. My whole abdomen is HUGELY distended. All the surgical scars are stretched. God it’s agony.

There’s a really obnoxious old git called Albert who’s just been admitted. He’s 80 years old but wants to fight everyone. Physically. He keeps telling everyone – nurses, medical assistants, doctors – to ‘face off you black bastard!’ He Zimmer-framed his way round the ward shouting ‘What are you f***ng looking at, I don’t want to speak to you!’ He just told this nice Nigerian nursing orderly to Shut your c*** up. Now he’s telling Georgia the Italian nurse to shut up and f*** off. He’s already fallen over once.

I did hear one doctor defend him, because EVERYONE wants him to go, with the words ‘he needs to be treated compassionately’. That’s easy for her to say! She doesn’t have to live with him 24 hours a day

Good grief. It doesn’t get any better in here.

Friday December 13

Since my operation my bowel, which has been defunctioned for a year, has refused to re-awaken. Still on Nil by Mouth. I’m a bag of bones with a huge protuberant belly that makes me look nine months pregnant. My shoulders, arms and legs are like matchsticks now! Once I’m out I’m gonna hit the road on my bike. I need to get fit.

Meanwhile, Bed One is occupied by the most abusive racist sociopath I’ve ever seen. He belittles and abuses everyone and tells them to ‘f*** off’ or says ‘what kind of a man are you?’

The poor nurse who takes the brunt of it, a really kind Nigerian man, takes endless abuse such as ‘Jungle Jim’ and ‘black bastard’ and ‘you are pathetic’.

I gave him a card, to say thank you for being so patient and happy Christmas.

He was so moved he drew the curtains round and said a prayer for me in ‘my own language’. He was quite teary-eyed at the end! So this crap must be affecting him. He’s quite a well-built rock-set Nigerian geezer. He looks quite hard. So sad to see him like this.

I know how he feels though. Poor bloke. 

In totally unrelated news, I get a grim reminder that I need to proceed with my divorce.

Saturday December 14

I’m dismayed that I’m still on Nil by Mouth. That loony Albert went nuts last night. In the end, he was in the corridor ranting and raving and all these Ghanaian nurses were just laughing at him. They are so sweet. They never let anything faze them.

Sunday December 15

I’m feeling so much better after a night dragging my drip trolley to the toilet every half an hour. That was agony and annoyed the poor bloke in the bed next to me, as the drip machine beeps every time I unplug it. He said it sounded like a lorry reversing every half hour!

Monday December 16

Today I’m going to be vacating my timeshare at my winter residence at Les Appartements du May Die Hospital Croydon, and heading back to Purley. I’m going to relish this Christmas!

Later

I just swore at the nurses and caterers for the first time. The shame! 

I’ve been on Nil by Mouth for FOUR weeks, then this morning a doctor examined me and said I’m ready for semi-solid food, ie soup.

I’ve been longing for this moment. Then the caterer comes in and ignores me completely and gives everyone else their food. So I say politely, ‘Er, do you know where my soup is?’

You’re on Nil by Mouth, they say. 

So I jump out of bed. ‘For f***’s sake,’ I say and hunt down the nurse. There’s about ten of them all milling about and not one could pass on the vital message that I’m allowed to eat!

I’m ashamed that I became the sort of abusive patient I’ve been criticising all this time. The frustration does get to you though.

I did apologise profusely to them all and they were very gracious about it. My friend the catering queen looked quite shocked but she said she forgives me. She even gave me a double soup when the order came from above that granted me my new food status.

Even later

They are keeping me in until Thursday now as they want to make sure I don’t rush home and bung my guts up with pasta, like I did last time. So I can’t really fault their logic there as once again, I was the idiot patient who cost the NHS a fortune through his stupidity!

You can read Nick’s previous dispatches here and here.

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Nick Booth
Nicholas Booth is the editor of OhThisBloodyComputer and a freelance technology writer

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