an odd kind of week

I hold the lift door for an elderly man who hurries into the lobby waving his newspaper. After thanking me profusely and asking for the tenth floor, he stands to one side giving me significant smiles and nods, making it abundantly clear he’d like to know who it is I’ve come to visit. It’s not … Continue reading an odd kind of week

connie’s things

Before my last visit I’d stopped to look up Connie’s hospital number on the patient database. When I entered her date of birth, twenty or so names came up. I could immediately see which was Connie, because her name was the only one not greyed-out, the only one with a blank space in the Date … Continue reading connie’s things

the general procedure

It’s a training day. I’ve been sent to a rehab unit to learn how to give sub-cut injections of Tinzaparin, so I can add it to my roster of skills in the community. It’s all gone pretty well. Sara’s a good teacher, exacting but humane, giving me the space to practise whilst maintaining control. I … Continue reading the general procedure


The giant palm at the far end of the room is the only thing in the house you could say was doing well. In fact, I’d have to say that everything here – the ancient brother and sister, the piles of mouldering junk, the curling wallpaper, the pendant cobwebs, the meagre coals in the fireplace, … Continue reading houseplants

the longest story

Elisabeth is cross. I think. There’s just the hint of ill-temper, the smallest upward curl at the corner of the lip on the face of the sabre-toothed tiger frozen in the glacier. ‘Not another one!’ she says. ‘I was about to have lunch.’ ‘Sorry! I won’t keep you long. I’m Jim. from the Rapid Response … Continue reading the longest story

scratching on the break

It’s a rare moment, finding ourselves suddenly quiet like this, in the eye of the day’s hurricane, sitting with (almost) nothing to do, no new referrals to triage, old referrals to discharge; no carers or clinicians on the phone; no ragged lines of people waiting to handover; no doctors on-hold waiting to conference call another … Continue reading scratching on the break

ken the ox

I’ve come to see Vera, but it’s Ken who does all the talking. Getting a direct answer from Vera without being interrupted or guided by her husband is like rowing away from a whirlpool; I know that if I ship the oars and look back at him even momentarily I’ll be lost. So for the … Continue reading ken the ox