Wensum, by Jim Harding, March 20, 2015

QEH Accident and Emergency Dept and Vehicles outside the entrance on Sunday 4th Jan 2015 ANL-150501-075111009

QEH Accident and Emergency Dept and Vehicles outside the entrance on Sunday 4th Jan 2015 ANL-150501-075111009

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Someone as normally healthy as myself tends to shrug off the minor ailments anyway and just get on getting on.

But this was different. Very different.

A stomach ache starting after a light midday lunch just refused to go away.

A once-over from the emergency doctor at our medical practice took account of the usual suspects through a variety of tests without producing anything obvious.

Certainly not appendicitis, anyway. I was sent off with some pain killers and told to report back if things failed to get any better. They didn’t. They got worse.

Like many, I suspect, I was reluctant to involve the emergency services but after a couple of bouts of severe sickness was persuaded by both my wife and my medical student son that the professionals just had to be called in.

It was by then around midnight and a relief to be handed over to the expert care of the blue-light brigade who sped me towards Lynn Hospital.

The next 24 hours was a bit of a blur with more testing, a full body scan and stuff that I was too far gone to recall.

All around me was a swirl of doctors and nurses and I just gave myself up to their decisions on my behalf. There was little else I could do.

The evening operation took around two and a half hours and when I finally came round from the anaesthetic at 1am the feeling of calmness was palpable. And at least in that moment, entirely painless. It wasn’t until the morning rounds started that I was told the physician had been able to use keyhole surgery on my abdomen.

This was an immense relief as I knew the healing process would be so much less traumatic.

My apologies if you’re reading this over breakfast but what had knocked me sideways was a section of dead bowel which had to be removed post haste.

The word that still resonates in my head is that it was ‘strangulated’.

Now it was down to me to think positive and get better so that I could get home and free up a bed in the hospital. It took the best part of five days, during which time my care on Leverington Ward was exceptional.

There were day and night shifts of twelve- and-a-half hours – surely too long – when the teams of nurses combined their cheerful and caring presence with routines that were familiar to them all.

We were treated like honoured guests. I recall at one point thinking how in every hospital in the country something similar was bound to be taking place. It’s at times like these you get an inkling of just how important this amazing NHS is to us all.

It can never be taken for granted, it must never be given anything but the highest priority.

Well I’m now home and recovering quietly, moving slowly but thinking positively. The fast lane will just have to wait for a while.