In Sickness and in Health: I want them to know Nick as a person, not just a patient

Earlier this year, Rebecca's husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns, she writes about the aftermath of his accident

Share

There are many, many reasons why I wouldn’t make much of an ICU nurse. One, I haven’t spent years dedicated to one of the most important jobs out there, but instead written columns about cats and inserted hyphens into  other people’s articles. Two, I’m squeamish. Not so much with blood and needles but eyes, open wounds and anything seeping are really not a  forte. Three, I can barely cope with seeing missing dog pictures on lampposts without falling to the floor. That I’d be strong enough to help other people cope with what is likely to be the very worst time in their lives is a bit of a stretch. I recently met an ICU nurse who looks after children (no, I  can’t imagine her strength either) and  she is my new hero. She is on her holidays and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a fortnight of fun.

So as well as being unsuited to this noble role on all of those levels, I am also, number four, incredibly nosy. When someone is rushed to hospital in the not-quite-dead-but-could-go-at-any-moment-of-night and ends up in ICU, they are stripped of everything that makes them them. They’ve become part of the medical machine, where people are the raw material that is,  hopefully, processed into a functioning  human at the other end. If, like Nick, you go in unconscious and stay that way, the self disappears along with the  clothes you’ll never wear again, the watch taken off for safe-keeping and  the wallet handed back to your wife. Dressed in a hospital gown that barely  covers your birthday suit, you aren’t a person any more but a patient.

Once Nick had turned a number of corners (as well as surviving a trip down Blood Clot Alley and finding his feet in Tracheotomy Avenue), I began to feel curious about the other patients sharing his space. Who was the chap who had a police guard at all  times – the one the nurses refused to blab about – and was he a victim or a villain? The person in the next bed to Nick who, for a while, I thought was an elderly lady but after a visit from the hospital hairdresser turned out to be a bloke. What was his story? Were they relatives or friends visiting?

With Nick’s wedding ring in a drawer at home, only my presence indicated that he had a wife and a life.  So when a couple of his nurses started  asking about who he was (is) and what makes him tick, I decided to write a fact sheet about Nick to put by his bed. Condensing someone’s life onto a sheet of A4 paper sounds akin to writing a CV, but is a very different exercise, where the writer has to weigh up space vs. love. I mentioned the jobs Nick had done (he’s a clever professional, don’t patronise him), his interests, his family, his darling daughter, his love of animals and his skill in the kitchen. Hell, I even laminated it. And added a picture of us last year so they could see the handsome, fun man I married and adore.

While I wanted those looking after Nick to see him as a patient, one who needed round-the-clock care, I also needed them to know the person they  were nursing. It’s what I’d want to know, in the unlikely event that I’d ever  be capable of doing what they do.

Twitter.com: @rebeccaj

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: An outstanding school in Luton are looking ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Inspection Inventory Clerk

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a fast growing in...

Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV & HGV Mechanics

£29000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV Mechanics & HGV mechani...

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
This coming Tuesday marks 100 days until the general election  

In defence of Westminster - why we should go easier on our politicians

David Kirkby
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych  

Kim Sears: A woman at a sports event makes the front pages! Shame it’s for swearing and not participating

Alice Jones
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee