Becoming a Scottish government statistic was good for me, for it set my mind at ease about several worries. So, I am glad that I became a Scottish government statistic last Thursday when I tested negative. Let me explain.
During the dry and often warm and sunny weather which has graced the coronavirus lockdown period, I have spent more time in the garden than I would during many an April. And I must ask you, gentle reader, to apply the same careful examination of my actual words that we should apply to politician’s statements; don’t persuade yourself that what you think I said is what I actually said. I said, “I have spent more time in the garden … .” I did not say that I have been working in my garden; I just said that I have been in the garden. And that is exactly correct, for I have been becoming increasingly breathless in recent weeks to the point where even bending out to pull out some weeds became problematic, let alone doing anything as energy-consuming as using a hand fork to tend to a planter. So it came about that last Thursday, having rather belatedly made an appointment to discuss the matter with my doctor, I was referred to the Acute Assessment Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital for tests which could not done at the surgery – now! My doctor made arrangements for me to be booked in and instructed me to go there without delay, reporting to the Red Zone Admissions door.
This is not really news one wants to hear; and I did as I was bid. Ailsa drove me to Larbert, where we called to staff across the no-man’s land which now separates the emergency admissions area from the closest vehicle access allowed to non-emergency vehicles. A wheelchair was brought; I was masked; I had a red sticker attached to me; and I began my journey into – well, what? Clutching a bag containing a pair of pyjamas, a razor, toilet items and a book … my doctor thought this might be a wise precaution … I was wheeled through corridors where every member of staff was wearing PPE to the admissions desk. Yes, I was expected; yes, a room was waiting for me; and yes, a start would be made on a battery of tests very soon.
So it turned out. I was, of course, interrogated to ascertain if I was still mentally alert; and fortunately, I did know what day of the week it actually was, despite the declaration on the calendar/clock in my room that it was Friday, 24 April. I could also remember my date of birth without reference to the label attached to my left wrist; and I did know where I was. And then the examination procedures kicked in. I do not remember the exact order of events: but in the course of the following seven hours I had blood samples taken for analysis; I had two ECGs …electrocardiograms … to check my heart's rhythm and electrical activity, the two tests being done several hours apart. Similarly, my blood pressure was carefully recorded in two hours-apart checks. I had a novel experience when a porter took me in a wheelchair for a chest x-ray and the doors of the x-ray room were standing open in welcome; again, I was masked for my journey through the corridors. My urine was checked, a stethoscope examination was done … how old-fashioned among all the high-tech equipment! … I was swabbed for Covid-19 and my medical history discussed at length. In short, I was thoroughly examined by unfailingly friendly and courteous staff. And the result? It is very likely that I am the architect of my own misfortune because I have been adding too much salt to my food!
There are two morals to this tale. Think before reaching for the salt cellar; and if you need the services of A & E, don’t hold back; the service is five-star plus! Thank you, FVRH.