I used to absolute hate hospitals. I was terrified of them. To me, a hospital was where people died. I did not think about the fact that it was where people were saved. The thought of staying over night in a hospital freaked me out, let alone spending 6 weeks in one. I think the fact that now I am not afraid of hospitals anymore is mainly down to the staff at Kingston.
It’s virtually impossible not to like all the people on the Coombe Wing. They’re an interesting bunch really. Some watch even more television than me (which is definitely saying something as I’m sure my mother can attest) and are always there to discuss how good an upcoming film or TV programme is. Some get annoyed (and rightfully so) when you promised them you’d bring them cake and all you deliver is a gallon of your urine to test your kidney function (sorry – I promise I’ll bring you cake, I promise). Some will play Wii Fit with you for an hour so that you don’t become a slob (even though I’ve been told now by UCH that I need to be at a good weight for the transplant – wooo! Bring me food now!!). Some will lend you inspiring books that change your life and box sets that you never got around to watch (shocking really – I mean all I do is watch TV). Some will answer the phone with “Flo. It’s Brad Pitt” in a strong Birmingham accent, making you cackle with laughter at the absurdity of it all. Some spend their night shifts clanging around in the kitchen at midnight (a very comforting sound really) and singing beautifully and always with a smile. Some are so small and young looking that you can’t believe they have adult children. Some simply refuse to get around to getting their new uniform (honestly!). Some agree to open countless tins of fruit for you and don’t get offended when you choose beans on toast rather then their own food (sorry but it’s good for the bowel movements). Some just brighten your evenings with discussions about New York and tell you how you simply must take a boat back (which I am so doing once I’m allowed). Some don’t make you feel embarrassed when they have to take a look at your bum (must be because welsh people are so kind and understanding). Some reassure you when you’re having a reaction to platelets and completely freaking out (turns out just needed some intravenous piriton and hydrocortizone and we were good to go). Some use their time off to go to beer festivals in Germany (very jealous of this) and then go straight back to working on Intensive Care Units (I kind of suspect they might be superheroes). Some have sons who worked on the Hobbit!!!!! (so cool). Some have two jobs (like being a nurse isn’t enough work – superheroes, it’s the only explanation).
There are some days where I just can’t get my head round how hard they work and how they always manage to uplift you every time they walk into your room. What actually keeps me positive and happy is wanting to make them happy. When you’ve got cancer people don’t expect you to be smiling all the time and to always be up for a chat and that’s what I love. I love it when they get happy by seeing me happy and in turn that makes me happy. It’s a positivity circle (take note that I coined that phrase – copyright Florence Kleiner).
I am so sad to leave. Honestly. Because I’ve come to deeply care for these people and all they’ve done for me. I think they’re the most incredible people in the world because they make people better, whether they’re doctors or nurses or catering staff or porters. By just being human, by just living and getting on with their day they bring such a sense of life to the hospital that it makes you want to live more than anything. Some row and run and write dissertations all the while working like unbelievable hours and still they’re always smiling and helping you and being the most goddamn superhuman fantastic people alive.
And I promise that I will be back once I’m better. And I will make them cake every week. And I will help volunteer on the haematology ward, because although this is goodbye Kingston, it’s not really goodbye, because you can’t say goodbye to people who changed your life.
I’ve made a small little video to accompany this post. It’s basically all the selfies I’ve taken so far plus some lovely and very flattering videos of me singing and dancing in the hospital, because singing and dancing are the best things you can do to lift your spirit and also I look really weird so I thought it might make you all laugh. Anyway, enjoy I guess.