The Royal Surrey Hospital is a giant un-fun maze (not of the bushy variety you find in regal gardens*); and the Emergency Assessment Unit is as easy to access as Platform 9 ¾.* What a good job no one looking for it, is hoping to be assessed in an emergency. Oh.
Mum and I spent (what felt like) ten hours navigating the NHS Labyrinth. We crossed paths with lost souls who had originally come to visit relatives, only to find themselves so disorientated by hallways they were now being treated for malnourishment and delirium. Gasping for breath, I desperately attempted to keep up with mum, (‘Mother’s Race’ Winner – Saint Teresa’s School Sport’s Day – 1994). I had no chance. Having entirely forgotten I was with her, mum was enjoying a rather clinical life-sized game of Pac Man, until she had a head on collision with a white coat.
“Excuse me Sir”, mum curtsied, because he was clearly a doctor. “We’re looking for the unit where you assess emergencies.” He pointed to the EAU, which was just behind us. Mum hurried in with the power of an ambulance through swing doors, where she waited a while for me to catch up.
After being ushered into a cubicle, we quietly conspired that I would NOT be staying the night. Ever the optimist, I hadn’t packed pants. So since the visit was going to be fleeting, we decided we might as well enjoy it with a wide selection of magazines and a delicious M&S spread. What fun! Doctors and nurses were joyfully welcomed into our cubicle; “thanks for popping by, sausage roll?” And even in the absence of booze, conversation flowed freely; “do you smoke?” No. “Do you drink alcohol?” Oh go on then Doctor, I’ll have one if you are. “How many units?” What?
It felt like a peculiar drinks party under strip lighting, underscored by the beep of a heart monitor instead of Michael Buble. Mum had our guests roaring with laughter as she regaled us with tales of her Pulmonary Embolism, until a party pooper threw open the curtains to say, “We’ve had your results back and I’m afraid we’re going to have to keep you in.”… But I haven’t packed pants!
Not one to be discouraged, mum began to hatch a plan for my escape. “I’ll tell the little nurse that you’re leaving and that’s final. She’s only 12, what’s she going to do? We’ll just walk out!”
As much as I admired my mum’s spirit of determination, I suspected that the doctor’s might have the right idea as my chest felt on the edge of implosion… plus I was exhausted from all the fun of our party.
* Hampton Court Maze is a lot of fun, but don’t let anyone trick you into thinking there’s chocolate, or a magical unicorn in the middle, because there’s neither; there’s just more bush which isn’t edible or magical.
* If you haven’t read, or seen Harry Potter then you won’t get this reference; you’re probably also a muggle, but because you haven’t read Harry Potter you don’t even know what muggle means. Pah! What a muggle!
It’s party time!