The good samaritans and the NHS

Posted on: 15 March 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

This week I have learned a painful lesson in looking where I am going, the meaning of Max Fax, and that community spirit and the NHS have life left in them yet!

First let me apologise for not having written over the past couple of days, but as you will soon discover I have had an eventful end to the week. I was on my way home on Thursday evening and keen as I was to share my day’s good news, I rushed from the bus and dashed across the road. As I got to the other side, I tripped on an raised paving stone and went flying!

My reaquaintance with Terra firma seemed endless and I remember thinking to myself – ‘I’ll be able to stop this happening- don’t panic!’. Well, I didn’t and crashed to the pavement with a sobering thud!

As I tried to get to my feet with the aid of a young Asian man and a lady who was just about to get into her car, I blustered that I would be OK and only lived just up the road. The young man pointed to my left hand, which was now dripping in blood – mine – calmly took control and told me the only place I was going was to hospital. He called the ambulance and the kind lady called my home, which in turn led to my partner scurrying down the hill with everything other than Dr Kildare’s Home Medical Kit!

Ten minutes later, with blood pressure taken ( and very normal) we were whizzing off to Kings College Hospital at Camberwell. By this time the effect of the fall and the shock was catching up with me and I was acutely aware of the blood soaked, suit, shirt and tie and a general feeling of ‘This really can’t be happening to me!

Within half an hour our Finance Director, my partner and son-in-law (he who commented: ‘So, how long have you been self harming?’) had me surrounded in Casualty and plying me with hot tea. Saved by a pretty nurse I was whisked off to paper curtained cubicle and cleaned up and checked over for damage. The prognosis was that I had a large flap of flesh hanging on my cheek and I had punched a wonderful hole in my forehead and I was going to need the Max Fax doctor! To those of you less medically qualified than I am now this meant a specialist facial surgeon.

Two hours later and a few x-rays under my belt the young surgeon picks me up and takes me off to the ‘major injury’ unit. After a lot of prodding and checking he decides that he can sort it all out without giving me a general anaesthetic – even though I’ve severed a muscle just above my eyebrow! No winking at the girls now! Two hours later after lots of injections and 30 stitches I am allowed to go home!

It is now three days later and although still looking the worse for wear I am on the road to recovery and will be back at work tomorrow. The moral of this story?

Despite hearing so much about the uncaring and broken society, the Good Samaritan culture is alive,  well and prospering in South London. So I feel I have to say a heartfelt thanks: first to the young man and woman who both stepped forward to help me. You can’t get better neighbourliness than this. Second to the staff at Kings College Hospital – skilled, polite, supportive and most of all genuinely concerned. And finally to the young surgeon (Thomas – a Scot, from Belfast with Czech parents, as if the evening were not confusing enough!) who took such painstaking care with the work on my face so that I would have the minimum scarring and no loss of facial movement. Total dedication and patience after a twelve hour shift and another one facing him the following day.

Thomas told me that he would have done nearly 20 years of training before he reached the position of Consultant. How many of us can match that? Thank you all – you have restored my faith in human nature. Also a solid pat on the back for the NHS for being there when you really need them!

PS: I haven’t fallen over in 60 years – but now realise that a bit more exercise won’t go amiss – off to join a gym once the face has healed!

PPS: If ever you thougt that grandchildren were caring, compassionate souls, this image should go a long way to dispelling that myth. After seeing my misfortune, the little rascals did their own interpretation of my face using PlayDoh - never mind I'll have the last laugh next Christmas :¬)Grandchild

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