I don’t think anyone wants to be in hospital over Christmas. All together I was in hospital for five months after my accident in 2009. I spent that Christmas in hospital in London. I saw the ins and outs of how Christmas works for patients and the hardworking staff who work throughout the festivities. From my own personal experience I cannot fault the Nhs staff who worked over Christmas that year I was a patient. Every year the majority of the working population have holiday over the Christmas period, but not all nurses, doctors, surgeons etc. get this luxury. They work so hard to deliver critical and crucial care to those in need and the people behind the scenes like cleaners and kitchen staff in hospitals work just as hard on Christmas as any other day!
In hospital over Christmas some patients can have leave to go home for a few days to spend it with their families. The ward I was on gradually became quieter but I couldn’t go home as I was newly paralysed. I cannot describe how upset and depressed I was I could barely move from the waist down.
It can be an incredibly sad time for So many others that spend Christmas in hospital for different reasons. A guy I met whilst in Hospital had lost both of his legs; he didn’t know what his future held. Another guy I met was paralysed from the neck down- His life now would depend on carers 24/7. All the children on the floor above me were in for serious reasons. It’s just heart-breaking thinking of all those suffering over Christmas, but unfortunately bad illness, health, and injuries don’t stop because it’s Christmas.
Families really pull together though in difficult circumstances. My family were amazing. They all crowded round my bed in the morning and I opened my presents with them. Other patients that were still there were also surrounded by their loved ones.
The hospital I was in made an effort to help their patients get the Christmas experience. The hospital gave every patient a present and they did a Christmas dinner. And the staff were so enthusiastic. A hospital Christmas dinner is never going to be the same as your Mums but it’s nice that they make the effort! I didn’t actually eat Christmas dinner in the hospital. At this point I was able to get into a wheelchair so my doctor said I was allowed to go across the road from the hospital to a restaurant for my Christmas lunch.
It was the first time I had been outside the hospital in over a month. It felt like my family were stealing me from the hospital as they wheeled me down the road away from the hospital! I was wearing my neck brace so everyone stared at me. I smiled at everyone, although inside I was so sad and felt numb.
At lunch I cried when my brother gave me a personalised mug with a photo of me and him on it with the words “Get well soon Rachey , love you lots- your older bro”.
I barely ate any of my lunch and I ended up getting stuck in the disabled loo and had to pull the emergency cord, I couldn’t work out how to get off the loo into my chair!! It was an interesting first experience leaving the hospital.
In hospital I received a pineapple from another patient as a christmas present. Others I met during my stay in hospital really kept me going some days! When this particular lady was in the bed next to me she would keep calling my name when the curtains that seperated our beds were closed. She kept asking me if I was ok, it was so sweet. Once visiting hours were over every night the lonely feeling I felt was horrible and I would just cry to myself. Having some of the other ladies on the ward sometimes made it that tiny bit better. My close friends visited often and over Christmas brought me gifts, did my hair and nails and ate cake with me.
My family and friends meant more to me than ever before.
By the following Christmas in 2010 I had recovered hugely mentally and physically. I wasn’t spending it in hospital and having been in hospital the previous year made Christmas at home with my family extra special.
I was so happy. I couldn’t walk but I was coming to terms with my accident and the idea of the wheelchair. The depression I had felt was easing and I was laughing and smiling more. I spent Boxing Day evening with all my friends at a friend’s house, it was so much fun.
Now Every year at Christmas I remember my time in hospital.I remember watching the fireworks from the hospital window coming off the London Eye on New Year’s Eve. Crying to myself and thinking my life was over.
I remember so clearly the level of sadness that hung over me. I look back now and compare how I feel currently to how I felt back then. Back then I could have never imagined feeling anything but pure sadness. Today as I write this I don’t feel the sadness I did back then
I am happy and even though I am not as able bodied as I used to be I really appreciate everything that I still do have!!
Having experienced Christmas in hospital and being round lots of people suffering has given me a view of christmas from another angle. Christmas for everyone isn’t the ideal picture painted in the story books it can be incredibly difficult for lots of people for all different reasons.
Every year at Christmas since my accident I just appreciate being healthy and with my family and friends because that’s all that matters!!
Happy Christmas thanks for reading
Love Rach x
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