Historian and intellectual, Henry Adams, in one of his ‘fortune cookie’ moments said that: “All experience is an arch, to build upon”. Taking that on board, Able Magazine editor, Tom Jamison, reflects on his recent hospital visit.

This is not going to go away…
I know plenty of wheelchair users that attempt each morning to wriggle their toes. As somebody with cystic fibrosis, I don’t do that but I am sometimes foxed into forgetting that my condition exists. Sometimes I really feel good. Sometimes I make plans in my forgetfulness and annoyingly, when I come to execute those plans, that’s when the phantom returns.

In that sense I was disappointed but not too surprised that for the fourth time in four years, I was admitted to hospital for a two week course of intravenous antibiotics after a short illness.

Reality check
Arguably one of the reasons I was admitted was because I misjudged how effectively I could manage the situation on my own. Had I approached my doctor earlier I might’ve sidestepped the admission altogether. The problem is that reality can be slippery and it’s difficult to tell the difference between being old, being tired and being ill.

Your head can help or hurt
It’s very difficult to get properly better until you start believing you’re getting better. The ironic twist is, of course, that there’s nowhere quite like hospital to make you feel ill. Again, the reality that every drop of medicine counts can be overlooked.

Attitude
Attitude and gratitude are almost interchangeable. A thankyou said out loud means a lot. It affirms the value of your care to yourself – and the caregiver.

Nurses work really hard
The nurses on my ward seemed to be working 13 hour days (or nights) and I’m sure doctors aren’t far behind them. Nevertheless, I rarely saw a frowning face among them.

More money would help
Obviously.

Be part of the solution
Not that the patient is the problem, the disease, exacerbation, attack, infection, condition, etc, is the problem. Aim to develop a simple understanding of the issues and in a sense, become part of the medical team; who are all on the same side.

That said, take responsibility to communicate your views and feelings fully to give healthcare professionals a more effective, holistic perspective. Help them to: ‘Treat the patient, not the disease’.

Take your time
Life moves fast – and keeping up is one of the challenges. While rest in hospital is tricky, not least because your body is fighting infection, focus on the small victories rather than overwhelming yourself with the bigger, possibly more daunting picture.

Listen to advice.

With many thanks to the staff of Foulis Ward at the Royal Brompton Hospital.