A week ago today I made my first deal in blood. I’ve made a fair few since, trading it for info or action, but that was the first. I was trying to work out whether I could stay somewhere in Hospital Number 2 (where you can see my house from the window) when I left the acute unit. They ‘had’ to send me from there to Hospital Number 3, which belongs to my postcode but is a few miles away, and far less convenient for some of my friends. I have private health insurance – see below – and I wanted to see if that meant I could stay in the same hospital. But no one would talk to me about such things while I was still in the acute unit. So I waited until the 6am bloods on Friday and asked the nice senior staff nurse how quickly he needed them. He said, ‘in the next 10 minutes’. And thus he needed my blood faster than I needed the information and, with the added benefit of making serious nurses giggle, I withheld it until a promise was made to send someone to speak to me. It took all of 2 minutes to broker, and 10 minutes to deliver on. There’s nothing like a strict timetable that you aren’t on to get a deal done quickly.
A couple of people have asked me why I didn’t use my private health insurance* during this saga. The neuro consultant was clear; don’t use it until you’re out of the woods. If you are NHS you go straight into MRIs, CTs, etc. when you need to, and they are much better equipped for critical care. When I moved out of the acute unit, it seemed to be the right time to play the card, particularly since I was angling to stay in the same hospital. This is when I learned something new, which those with insurance should know. I couldn’t stay in Number 2 as I’d only have had access to neuros and no stroke specialists (inc. docs, physios, occ therapists, etc). The option was stay NHS and go to Number 3, or go to one of the only TWO hospitals with a private stroke unit in London, the nearest of which is in St Johns Wood. This was a bit of a revelation: I’ve been paying for insurance with a hefty ‘central London hospital’ premium, but there are only a couple of hospitals geared up for each condition??!! Who knew?!! So the very lovely unit Sister sat with me and said that she couldn’t officially advise me but it seemed to her that my emotional support was coming in bucketloads from my friends (she was sooooo right!) and so for me, I could go to the massive comforts of the Wellington Hospital, but I could also choose to stay NHS and go to Hospital Number 3 which was more convenient for them, though significantly less palatial. She all but said I’d be better off staying NHS. She’s a wise lady because I learned in Hospital Number 3 that it could’ve be very, very easy to get a little bit depressed (everyone was so old and so sick, except me, and the crushing headaches that featured back then made me cry myself to sleep as it was! It really could have been a luxurious slippery slope for me to lose access to my amazing friends at that exact point in time). I did make myself a deal though. Hospital 3 was loud, busy and full of very sick people, all of whom were at least 3 decades older than me; but I had a sideroom (because, it turns out, they try to keep the ‘young people’ out the way precisely so they don’t get depressed!) and decided if they took it back for a truly sick person, then I would go private. Luckily, things lined up in a miraculous manner to ensure that at the EXACT moment that happened, everything was in place to negotiate my early release. A release for which I didn’t even have to trade any blood!
* yet = I might still use it for certain rehab things: after all, if I keep it, they’re going to put my premiums up next year now anyway, so I might as well!!!!
They say the first 10 days after a stroke are the ones where the fastest bit of recovery happens. Today is 10 days since the last stroke and I can see why they say that. My recovery has been particularly stunning. I’m aware things might start plateauing now and I’m possibly not ready for that, so I’ve decided to ignore it and see what happens. So far, this strategy has worked a treat!
My fab friends Claudia & Jens are here from Germany with their baby daughter, Charlotte. It’s so nice having them around. Poor Claudia was subjected to my, “the physios say I’m safe, so it’d be great if you’d let me be a grownup” speech when she wondered, on arrival, if I should wait for her to do stairs. I swear the speech is only three sentences long and I think I’m quite lovely about it (?) and it sits with your consistent ‘tell us what you need’ instructions! Thinking about this reminds me also of when I was in the hospitals and you were all asking me to tell you when you should leave. In some cases you’d ask, ‘shall I go, are you tired, how long shall I stay, you need to tell us’ and I was saying I had no idea what the answer was to those questions, and I couldn’t make that decision so you’d have to do it. You all said I was being too polite and it was up to me. Well, now I’m starting to work slowly through the vast quantity of leaflets it turns out its really normal to not be able to make those kinds of decisions (though I can do it now!) So I’m hoping you’ll start trusting more and more that when I say something I mean it. If I say I can, I can, and if I can’t, I’ll take you up on your offer of an arm or two and all that jazz. Honest. After all, even before the verbal filter got a tad less efficient, did I ever really mince my words??!