Thursday, March 1

From the Editor's Crutches

Hospital waiting rooms are very annoying places especially when they are divided up into sub-waiting areas I concluded yesterday whilst waiting for further medical attention to my shattered right Right Tibia and Fibula. Attempts at injecting humour into these situations is rarely successful and yesterday was no exception.

Clearly frustrated at my slow and hazardous progress towards the treatment room a health care assistant asked if I was given any training in the use of my crutches before being discharged from hospital. I confirmed that I had but the crutches were clearly for right-handed patients and that as a left-handed person I had been wrongly supplied. I am sure I heard the care assistant say to her colleague in the corridor ''what a shame'' - whether that was aimed at me or my right handed crutches I was and remain unclear.

Later it occurred to me whilst waiting for an X ray in the (annoyingly titled) sub-waiting room that it was, to the day, the 5 th anniversary of my Heart Attack. At the time of writing I am still unconvinced that spending the morning at my local fractures clinic is the most appropriate way to 'celebrate' the sobering events of five years ago or not. But alas that is where I found myself.

As I have commented on before, one of the characteristics of public sector waiting rooms is the large number of people who sit waiting their turn without any apparent thoughts in their heads. Only but a few can be seen reading a newspaper or indeed anything other than the largeprint notices written as if their readers were junior school pupils. One such notice read ''why we must wash our hands''; why 'we' ? Another written in bold was about abuse of NHS staff. A matter of great concern I agree, but why assumed that all those waiting for treatment were actively considering abusing the nearest nurse; the assumption of negativity is of course infectious. It was only lack of mobility and a decent marker pen that prevented me from adding some cryptic comments.

Whiling away the time I spotted a piece in my newspaper ''Prince Charles demands Macdonald's be closed down''. Now I have been saying that since the '80s when it was revealed that the fast food poisoner was donating vast sums of money to NorAid - a fundraiser for the terrorist organisation the IRA. HRH was quite emphatic - the junk food resturant giant is a public menace because of the unhealthy junk sold to young persons by young persons at vast profit. The muli-branch menace should be banished from the Realm !

In my enthusiasm for Prince Charle's bold stance I pointed out the article to my waiting room neighbour, are large tatood chap also with a leg in plaster. His retort of ''silly bugger'' was not quite the reply I was hoping for. Anyway satisfied that that morning I had organised one of my clients to make salient and 'SoundBite' comments on BBC Radio (at amazing short notice) I felt that I had done my bit to support the Heir to the Throne in his latest controversial stance.

All in all not the most productive morning but one in which I was able to observe my fellow British Subjects (in the North East) at close (and fractured) quarters. On my next visit in April I will obtain a large number of assorted newspapers and distribute them free - I wonder what the reaction will be - after all someone needs to take care of patient communications.

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