CSI Hackney

4 Sep

I don’t ordinarily think of hospitals operating like normal businesses.  I know they’re open 24/7, but when you go to one on a Saturday it’s very different to the hustle and bustle of a Monday to Friday. It’s a bit like being in the centre of a small town on a Sunday when nothing is open – all a bit 28 Days Later for my liking. I like noise. I definitely prefer being ill in the week.

The reason I noticed this is because I was in the hospital on Saturday. Thankfully I wasn’t ill, but I am pregnant and I was there with hubby for a tour of the maternity unit. As we arrived the first thing I noticed was the silence. There are normally ambulances and taxi’s and lots of people coming and going. But there was nothing. It was quite eerie.

Being quite a nervous person any time I’m near a hospital I nearly screamed in fright as I turned the corner and bumped into a smoker dragging her iron lung and with tubes coming out of her nose.  I actually thought for a fleeting moment she was ghost.

Once hubby assured me he has seen her too and it wasn’t just me, we headed into the antenatal department. We were there a bit early and had to wait until the antenatal class had finished as we were just going to tag on the end for the tour. I’m doing private parenting classes so haven’t attended any of the hospital ones.  It’s hard enough on my nerves going when I have to, without feeling like I’m moving in.

As we’re early hubby takes this as a sign that he has half an hour to get a coffee. In reality we have ten minutes. Cue much stress as I start worrying we’ll be late and go to find him as he’s queuing in WH Smith buying a newspaper. He hasn’t even picked up his coffee. Quite when he thinks he’s going to have time to read the Telegraph is beyond me. We’re bickering about this as we arrive at the room to find we’re the last two to get there and have to walk through everyone else staring at us in order to sit down. I do my best ‘I’m smiling, but I really just want to shout at you because I’m so annoyed’ face. Thankfully the newspaper is put away.

The midwife who has been taking the antenatal class is also the one who is giving the tour. She’s brilliant. She’s a funny, slightly crazy, very small Chinese woman who I warm to immediately.  We follow her up to the maternity ward – all showing clear signs of excitement and terrified apprehension.  The men (and me) displaying mostly the latter.

We’re split in to two groups and hubby and I enter the first room. I’m not sure what I expected, but the first thing I notice is the heat. It’s like a sauna and I suddenly feel like I’m struggling to breathe. I look at hubby as he’s wiping the sweat off of his brow and whispering, “I’ll be wearing shorts then” as I’m wondering if they might let me have a go on the gas and air. ‘Air’ is something I’m suddenly very much in need of.

It’s a nice room (if a hospital room where you’re going to be in the most pain you‘ve ever been in your life can be described as nice). It’s private and much bigger than I expected, with an en suite bathroom. It definitely doesn’t look at clinical as I thought it would. It has a double bed with a blue plastic mattress and a birthing pool in the room. Squint and you could be in a Travelodge. The only thing I notice is that it’s a bit dirty and looks a bit used. As I’m thinking this I focus my attention back on the midwife as she says that the room has only just been vacated and hasn’t been cleaned since the last person gave birth. That’ll be the ‘used’ feeling I was getting at then.

Suddenly I notice a stain on the bed and in the pool. When I turn around to the bathroom there is a chair on which the poor woman had been sitting/squatting/holding onto only a few hours before. Hubby described it perfectly as he bends down and whispers in my ear, “it looks like a crime scene”. And it did. That’s exactly what it looked like. I felt like I was in Silent Witness all of a sudden and someone was about to come in and erect a white tent. Why oh why couldn’t we have been in the other group who went into the sparklingly clean room first?!

As we’re shown around the other rooms, which incidentally are a lot nicer than the massacre room, it dawns on me that as nice and non clinical as they are, it will still be where I have to push a baby out of me. And it will hurt. A lot. This is made clear as we’re looking around one of the rooms and are suddenly ushered out as a woman in labour arrives needing to use the room. I pass her as we walk out and she looks in agony. At this point I wanted to run outside, find somewhere quiet and distract myself with the Telegraph.

After what feels like a lifetime we are at the end of the tour. I’m glad I went and I certainly feel much more informed and now able to visualise what will happen where much more easily. But that’s not before the midwife explains that, “through those doors is the theatre where you’ll go if you need emergency surgery”. I never want to go through those doors. Give me the crime scene any day. 

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