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