Jane Gor­don

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - MUM AND ME -

Age un­known

Mother, grand­mother and 24/7 child­min­der

It’s strange the way fate con­spires to push you in a di­rec­tion you never in­tended to go and plonks you down in a to­tally new – and rather scary – re­al­ity. On the day of our car ac­ci­dent, I had been fret­ting about so many things that, at the time, seemed re­ally im­por­tant. Had I got enough food for that evening’s bar­be­cue? Was there time to make up the sofa bed be­fore Naomi and her fi­ancé ar­rived? What es­sen­tial items had I for­got­ten to buy in Waitrose: bri­quettes, Edie’s full-fat milk, tonic wa­ter, cat food? Wor­ries that, in an in­stant, were re­duced to ut­terly triv­ial con­cerns in the wake of that life-chang­ing – though thank­fully not life-threat­en­ing – col­li­sion.

It wasn’t un­til I found my­self in the re­sus­ci­ta­tion ward, sur­rounded by medics, that I could see, at first hand, the true bril­liance of our Na­tional Health Ser­vice. Not just be­cause of the speed with which they dealt with my in­juries, or­der­ing MRI scans, X-rays, blood matches and so on, but also be­cause of the way in which I was aware they were treat­ing the peo­ple in the bays on ei­ther side of mine. There was no dis­tinc­tion be­tween the care the staff gave to the tiny, de­hy­drated tod­dler with a high fever on my left and that given to the mid­dle-aged woman suf­fer­ing from acute al­co­holic poi­son­ing shout­ing ob­scen­i­ties on my right. The NHS, far from be­ing a fail­ing in­sti­tu­tion, re­mains true to its orig­i­nal three core prin­ci­ples: that it meets the needs of ev­ery­one, that it be free at the point of de­liv­ery and that ac­cess is based on clin­i­cal need, rather than the abil­ity to pay.

It’s prob­a­bly true to say that, on my first night in hos­pi­tal, the bal­ance of my mind was dis­turbed and that, as I write about what hap­pened, sev­eral weeks af­ter the event, my words might seem overly dra­matic and sen­ti­men­tal. But I was acutely aware then and re­main so now, that, de­spite the shock, the fear and the pain I ex­pe­ri­enced, I had none­the­less been given a pos­i­tive and timely les­son in what is and what is def­i­nitely not im­por­tant in life. Oh dear, sorry – pass me the tis­sues!

My pre­vi­ous wor­ries felt like ut­terly triv­ial con­cerns af­ter that life-chang­ing col­li­sion

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