Thursday, 15 January 2015

Claremont Hospital

Mary spent all of August in agony with a painful right shoulder.  She never got a decent night's sleep, and by September capitulated and went to the doctor.  He booked for a consultation (six weeks wait, of course).  He hinted that of the choice of three hospital he could refer her to, the small Claremont mixed NHS and private one in Sandygate, Crosspool, may be the best option.

Meanwhile, she struggled both with the pain and incapacity.  And I got severely rebuked for my neglect by our assembled children at our annual family gathering day in early October.  Lizzie even insisted that we 'went private'.  Mary wasn't clear how it may have got injured.  We'd prayed (seemingly unsuccessfully) for the shoulder twice in our Sunday evening bible study time, when I invited folks to 'do some of the stuff' after teaching on healing.

The appointment duly came round, and I went along in case the examination left her unable to drive.  And anyway, I'm soft like that.  The last time we'd visited Claremont was when a dear elderly local Church member had had a hip replacement.  If my recollection is correct, at that point it was fully private. 

It was run by a small Catholic order of nursing nuns.  The impression that stayed with me was the splendid illuminated inscription commemorating the Pope's prayer of blessing on the Order and their labours of love and mercy.  It read (something along the lines of), "Thus, with apostolic blessing, the work of the hospital is sure to flourish..." (and probably added 'to the honour of Our Lady, or some equivalent).  Hmm.  You don't seem to get much of that 'apostolic = sure blessing' stuff in Jesus Fellowship.

The building was in the middle of a make-over, and there were tradesmen everywhere.  The Main Reception had disappeared, and certainly the inscription was nowhere to be seen.  Instead, behind a timber and plastic sheet temporary partition, staff were trying to eat meals.  We found the departmental reception desk and its adjacent waiting area.

Mr Ali, the consultant, had a stripped down model of a shoulder on his desk: fascinating.  He asked Mary to undress, and then thoughtfully added, "I assume this is Mr Callard?  I once got this far with a patient, and the gentleman with her turned out just to be the driver."  With a few arm bends and swings, he confirmed a torn tendon. 
Then the matter of how to treat it.  The discussion went backwards and forwards about the relative advantages of surgery, the likely success rates, and what Mary would consider was a satisfactory recovery.  In the end, he offered two months' of physiotherapy to see if it would improve use and reduce the pain.  And instructed, "No heavy domestic work". 

We booked some dates at the desk, and thoughtfully drove home.  "Better than an operation and six months with my arm in a sling."  Mary stated.  She'd been canvassing some advice.  And was more stubborn in prayer for getting healed than I.

After the first round of physio, Mary had to lie on the bed holding outstretched a can of baked beans, then swinging it in arcs - several times a day.  The second time she graduated to a larger can of pie filling.  The pain was subsiding.  After the third time she borrowed a kilogramme work-out weight from Barrie, which was "much easier to handle".  She packed it to take with her when we were away for weekends recently, but muttered about the heaviness of her overnight kit.

Finally, triumph!  She'd got restored mobility, and very little pain.  The physiotherapist signed off her notes, and booked an appointment with Mr Ali.  By now, the Claremont building work was done, and a transformed Reception glowed with subtle LEDs.  We padded softly down the thickly carpeted corridor.  Mr  Ali had been running late all afternoon, but took his time to confirm the results.  "No operation," he congratulated. 

Maybe there was just a sprinkling of apostolic good fortune around.

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