I have been extremely lucky throughout my life from a health perspective; apart from the odd accident and a few injuries from overzealous physical training. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes back in 2000, very shortly after leaving the Army, but to be honest I have successfully managed the condition through a combination of diet and medication for the last 20 years. Luckily, It was never a real issue for me. Now, in my 62nd year that has changed and the last 7 months have been a real challenge on the health front.
Almost predictably, this has coincided with my stepping away from a career in which I have worked for big corporates and through that, had access to private health care at all times. So, here I am with an ever increasing range of health problems with nowhere to turn to other the NHS. To be clear on this, I have unbounded respect for what is a free at the point of need service and am very proud that through this the UK leads the world in the delivery of a health care system that is the envy of every country on Earth.
My issues have come to a head over the last 7 months, starting with the extremely painful experience of kidney stones. Since that point, I have been through the mill, but our fantastic NHS has been with me every step of the way, and have done so during the unprecedented period of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am also lucky enough to have a superb GP who has driven my recovery in a focused and totally committed manner.
I have been through four operations since September of last year, removing kidney stones on both sides of my body and inserting then removing a number of stents. Frighteningly, I also developed a very serious infection that has proven very difficult to treat, as my body built up a resistance to oral antibiotics, requiring me to receive intravenous antibiotics and extending my hospital stays to do so. Throughout my various inpatient stays the people treating me have been nothing short of amazing. I have never before witnessed the standard of commitment, empathy, care and selflessness demonstrated by the nursing teams and specialist consultants. I witnessed patients much more ill than I was, but receiving life saving treatment and care 24/7 from these incredible professionals.
I am back home following my latest hospital admission, but I have to admit it is very difficult to find a way to sufficiently express my admiration, gratitude and support for these heroes. My love of words has helped and I have been able to write a poem for the team which was very well received, and an individual poem for a young single mother whose dedication to her kids and to her job simply inspired me. Typically, she received the poem in a very humble manner and probably slightly embarrassed to have been singled out. She is a lovely person with a very big heart and simply doesn’t take the time to consider her own needs, so she was a very deserving case in my view and that of her colleagues.
I am totally dismayed by the 1% salary increase initially offered by the government, and it certainly doesn’t help to see Scotland offer their NHS staff 4% but that’s a another story. For me, the public in England must challenge the government’s stance but at the appropriate time; that time is post-COVID so as not to undermine the tremendous work that has been done so far. I am a law abiding citizen and would never support anything beyond a democratic resolution to this issue; our NHS staff have put their lives on the line to save ours, surely we must recognise this in a fair, honest and open way by delivering a substantial uplift of c5-8% in recognition of our country’s gratitude. I, for one, intend to pick this up at the appropriate time and working with other decent citizens I hope to be able to influence a re-think and uplift of the award.
As I settle back into life at home,I realise just how blessed I am to have such a fantastic family to help me get back to full fitness, taking over from the NHS heroes to whom I owe a debt of gratitude that will be hard to repay; however, I am determined to try my absolute hardest to do so.