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2007 - August 2nd - Thursday

JH took her blood pressure tablet, as prescribed, before breakfast which she finally ate at about 9.30am!  In the kitchen, JH met Maureen K (the owner of the Rich Tea) who was also resident in JHH [and bemoaned the fact that she had a room in the front, and so was disturbed by the traffic].  Maureen’s daughter, who is 37, had just received a cadaver kidney, which was a perfect match, from a young man who had died following a cerebral haemorrhage; the daughter had, at first, been given a kidney by her father when she was 22 but, having had some extremely complicated gynaecological problems – which her mother felt sure lead to the failure of the kidney she received from her father – she had to have dialysis again for about a year – until now.  Hopefully, this will be another success story for the Renal Transplant Department but, as the kidney had only been transplanted about 4 days previously, it had still not ‘woken up’ from its ‘freezing’ trip to the Hospital.


JH gave Ruth another donation to the Marie Celeste Samaritan Society with the explanation that that was the way that JH liked to do things because, after all, she had stayed another 3 nights at JHH since giving Ruth her previous contribution to the Funds.  As JH started telling Ruth all about JH’s Hippo Collection, particularly her recently acquisitions from the Craft Festival in Henley – not too far distant from where Ruth’s daughter has her Glass Design Business - Ruth showed JH (on the website) some stained glass window designs which her daughter had recently completed; JH told Ruth that ‘anyone and everyone’ were welcome to call in at Hippo Haven to look at JH’s hippos – glass, and allsorts!

JH explained to Ruth about the ‘heart in mouth’ ride in the taxi from the Hospital on 25th June; Ruth was of the opinion that it was best just to go out into Whitechapel Road and hail a taxi, because the provision of transport – whether through the Hospital Transport Department, or by booking a commercial taxi from the freephone in the entrance – was so ‘hit and miss’; furthermore, those patients who required an ambulance – as they could not get into, or sit comfortably in a smaller saloon vehicle – sometimes went on very long, tiring trips, around London, to pick up and drop off other patients – before reaching their own destinations.

Although JH did know that the Hospital Transport Services where run by an external Firm, Carillon, whose office was located further down Ashfield Street, JH decided to see if she could search out the Patient Advisory and Liaison Service (PALS) Office – which she had seen signposted in the entrance – so that she could express her dismay at nearly missing her train back home on 25th June.  When JH went to the entrance, a distressed lady – who was very noisy, and shouting at a younger woman – was being supervised by two policemen.  JH asked the Security Man (from Nigeria) who was sat behind the reception desk, to direct her to the PALS Office; however, he asked the receptionist (from Jamaica) to advise JH and, after a discussion between the three of us (with difficulty because of the noisy lady), JH was given the extension number to phone:- when it was no longer engaged. 

In the meanwhile a lady/patient, who had bruises all over her head and face, asked JH were the nearest toilets were and JH directed her westwards along the corridor.  This patient subsequently came back and spoke again to JH; she explained that she had had an accidental blow on her head, and had difficulty with her memory; she had still not found a toilet to use; JH enquired, of the Security Officer, about the whereabouts of the nearest loo; he sent us both off in the opposite direction and JH found the toilet - which she had used before, and remembered did not flush properly, and also had observed all the vast amount of rubbish and litter that had gathered up outside the window behind some railings.  The patient used the toilet first – and explained to JH that the toilet was ‘awful’.  JH pointed the lady back in the direction of the entrance and, when she went into the toilet herself, discovered it was (still) not flushing properly, and therefore most unpleasant. 

JH finally spoke to Teresa Agyekum from PALS (and from Ghana), who came to the entrance to speak to JH; because Teresa only had a temporary office, we found a reasonably quiet spot to speak to each other, on the chairs in an office nearby.  Firstly, JH explained that, due to the delay in the arrival of the taxi which Mary had ordered - from the freephone in the Hospital Entrance - to take JH to Paddington, JH only just caught her train to Plymouth on which she was booked to travel; JH pointed out that she had been told that commercial taxis should be requested from the freephone in the Entrance (and that such phone calls could not be made from the Ward); furthermore, that JH had been told by a member of the Nursing Staff that a taxi would arrive within about 10 to 15 minutes after the request was phoned through.  Secondly, JH said (as it was ‘fresh’ in her mind) that the public toilet she had just used was not flushing properly.  Thirdly, JH said that she had noticed that there were people smoking cigarettes by ‘No Smoking’ signs in the environs of the Hospital (but JH realised that the situation cannot be policed all the time).  Fourthly, JH stated that she had had excellent care in Paulin Ward. 

Finally, JH requested that, if at all possible, she would appreciate receiving an acknowledgement - about her suggestion that there should be some ‘streamlining’ of the communications between incapacitated patients, the Wards, and the Hire Car Business at the end of the freephone.  JH walked, with Teresa, towards the Good Samaritan, as Teresa’s office was in that direction; JH explained that she had tried to post a letter in the old Victorian Post Box in the garden at the rear of the RLH!  [Addendum: JH was not contacted by Teresa after our conversation but JH - knowing how busy all the people in the Derriford PALS Office are – realises that PALS Staff are overwhelmed by all that their jobs entail - and they can always find time to ‘lend’ a sympathetic ear.]

Mary was already sitting outside the pub drinking a cup of coffee when JH arrived at 12.40pm, and Kathy and Ralph had just come into the pub through the other door.  We really enjoyed our meals; Ralph had a baked potato lunch; JH also had an enormous baked spud with tuna and salad – and surprised Mary by eating the lot!  Kathy, and Mary, had grilled salmon salad which they both enjoyed: Kathy ate every bit; Mary (who knows about these things) said to Kathy that the latter must be very pleased not to have to watch her diet so carefully - upon which Kathy announced to the pub’s patrons that she now eats a banana a day!  The lady, who had been sitting and chatting to Mary outside, returned Mary’s book to her which had been left behind; this lady looked very pale and ill, and had actually told Mary that she had a terminal illness.

JH said her farewells to the Skinners before she went back to JHH to collect her wheelie; Mary and JH then made their way to the Renal Outpatients Department for JH’s appointment at 2.30 pm.  [Only about 10 minutes after her appointment time] JH was seen  by Mr Rana Tehawar (the Registrar with the moustache – whose full name JH finally learnt from Ray Trevitt in a later email).  JH explained that, in the two or three weeks immediately following her operation, that she lacked incentive and felt somewhat apprehensive about ‘getting on with her life’; she said that she had had a pep talk with Ray who reassured her that, although other donors {who JH thinks were probably considerably younger than JH} perhaps went back to work after a couple of weeks, that they admitted that they really did not feel ‘all right’ for several weeks running into months; Mr Tehawar said he would hope that JH’s recovery period would be shorter than several months; JH explained that she had not, yet, gone swimming because of the lack of summer(!) – although she had been told she could as soon as she felt able to – Mr Tehawar suggested long walks, but JH said, although she walked to bus stops, etc, that she was not ‘into’ long walks because of her pre-existing sciatica! 

JH told Mr Tehawar that she had had a few setbacks during her convalescence:- she had had an infection in her wound which necessitated a week’s course of flucloxacillin which had further upset her bowels; however, she planned to speak with her GP about her reflux problems, and her IBS, which pre-date her operation; Mr Tehawar encouraged JH to make a visit to the GP.  JH ‘complained’ that her abdomen was asymmetrical in that her umbilicus was now displaced to the right!  Mr Tehawar asked JH if she had had keyhole1 surgery to which the answer was ‘No’; he did inspect JH’s wound but remarked that it was not a very big incision – as wounds go – but JH said that she was very proud of it, which Mr Tehawar endorsed that she should be!  JH told Mr Tehawar that she had fallen down, about 3 weeks after her operation, and acquired nasty grazes here and there; she further explained that she was ‘prone’ to trip occasionally, and that once it had happened – almost as expected – that she had a sense of relief: fortunately she had not broken her femur! 

JH told Mr Tehawar that she had been seen by the Registrar in the Renal Clinic at Derriford; her blood pressure had been found to be 150/84, so JH was prescribed Zanidip; JH showed Dr Tehawar the packet, and he remarked that it was not an antihypertensive drug which was used in their Department. 

Mr Tehawar asked how Kathy was getting on and JH reported that, from the point of view of HER kidney function she was fine, but that she was suffering from back and leg pain which reduced her mobility; the Registrar was concerned to hear this, and said that he would endeavour to have a word with Kathy, herself.

Mary and JH decided to make their way to Paddington, although, as JH had booked seats on the 1803 train, there would have been time to have a cup of tea at the Hospital.  On arrival at Paddington M & JH were just too late to catch the train departing at 1605 {as JH had anticipated}; our tickets were not valid on the train departing at 1703, so we went to the Mad Bishop and Bear up under the roof of Paddington {with all the pigeons which, if given the chance, will snatch the food out of your mouth}.  As we were both still full of lunch, we had a pot of tea only: JH got into conversation with the barman with the observation that, as we two ladies were occupying seats {out on the ‘balcony’} for 1½ hours, we would be quite happy to move on should other customers need to sit down, but we were told that we were welcome to sit there as long as we liked.  JH then asked the barman from whence he came: he answered ‘South Africa’ to which Mary retorted that she had told me that already!

At the appropriate moment, We went down to sit by the departure screens.  Unfortunately, the train’s arrival at Paddington – from its previous journey – was late, so the platform number for its departure did not appear until the last minute - which worried JH as she did not wish to do any rushing at the last minute, or negotiate her wheelie through the train – having jumped into the first carriage she came to.  The train departed from Paddington only a couple of minutes late but stopped just outside the Station for a few minutes; progress was reasonably rapid until on the run up to Taunton, when for various reasons – which were explained over the public address system by the Train Manager – the train did not travel as fast as usual over this straight stretch of line.  JH had purchased some food and drink from M&S at Paddington, and M had bought some refreshments for the journey earlier, so we had ample supplies to keep us going. 

However, it was inevitable that M would not arrive at Plymouth at 2119 as scheduled, and so would not be able to dash round to the Bus Station to catch the 2140 Tavistock Bus.  But, The Train Manager was heard to announce that, any passengers who had missed their connection on the Tamar Valley Line – to get to Gunnislake – should report to the Station Master’s Office on Platform 4 at Plymouth; M thought that it would be worth her while going to the office and explaining that she had an hour to wait for another bus to Tavistock – which meant she would not get home until about midnight.

The train arrived at Plymouth at 2140; M rushed to the office and explained; she did admit that there was one more bus she could catch at 2245 but the gentleman at Plymouth Station said that that ‘would be far too late’ and without hesitation ordered a taxi for M; there was one lady in the office for whom a taxi was ordered to take this lady to Gunnislake.  JH admits that she was rather relieved that M would not be staying with her that night – as she was feeling very fatigued.  JH got home at 10.25pm, and M got home at 10.45pm.  M did say to JH {via telecom on 3rd August} that she realised that JH would have been very weary after the journey – which was true.  JH told M that she would be writing to British Rail’s Customer Panel to point out the hiccoughs in JH’s+/-M’s various journeys, but particularly to praise them for the attention JH had received on her journey home after discharge, and also the provision of a taxi to Tavistock (on 2nd August): Mary thought this was a very good idea.


1In October 2005, when JH had a discussion with Sara Stacey about the contents of the medical information leaflet, JH expressed astonishment at the fact that a kidney can be removed via keyhole surgery!  Sara stated that there can be variations in the technique in so much as that sometimes a small abdominal incision is made - as well as using the endoscope - so that the surgeon can feel the kidney with his hand before removing it; however, traditionally the kidney is removed via a left-sided or paramedial laparotomy.