I felt compelled to take some time to head back to Laurel 3 this year. I was aware that, once again, I may not see anyone I knew as it had been nine years since I was treated there. But that wouldn’t matter. I had planned to say a quick hello to whoever was on the main station desk on the ward and leave some biscuits I’d brought for the staff as way of a small gift, regardless if they remembered me or not. I wanted to “do my bit” and remind myself of where I was nearly a decade ago and in a strange way almost pay my respects and remind myself of how lucky I am to have been on the receiving end of such great care before I embarked on my bone marrow transplant.
I felt slightly anxious in the approach to the ward. Suddenly that familiar hospital smell overcame me, as well as the anti bacterial achohol gel from the dispenser on the side of the entrance. I took a slow walk to the entrance, taking in the medical posters on the wall, the Macmillan information support centre as well as the kitchen area where the christmas eve lunch was being prepared. Suddenly, it was like no time had passed since I was here as a patient.
I had barely strolled past the first couple of rooms when I saw a familiar face. It was Kim, one of the nurses who seemed to be taken-a-back for a moment before saying ”now there’s a familiar face, Jonjo!”. I immediately felt at ease, gave her a hug and said hello. Before I knew it, one of my healthcare nurses Tracy was strolling up the ward and Kim said “Look who it is” and, again, we hugged and caught up. I actually feel quite humbled and a tad emotional inside. I was stood opposite the room I had spent months and months in isolation being looked after by these great people. I could see “my room”, Room 4 and really got taken back to how I felt when I was in isolation here nine years ago that very day. I noticed some things that had changed; the white board which previously had all patients names, status and requirements written in pen had now been replaced by a swanky computerised monitor. However, what clearly hadn’t changed was the passion, care and attention that these nurses and other staff constantly provide for those in need.
Myself, Kim and Tracy spent a good while chatting about stories and memories from my time in hospital. I was amazed at just how much they remembered. The level of detail and information they could relay from nearly ten years ago really surprised and, indeed, impressed me greatly. We had a giggle, a good laugh and also spoke seriously about things. During our chat along came Tuney, a nurse who I have always had a particular fondness for, yet hadn’t seen since 2007 when I was entertaining her with my version of “Wonderwall” as I was teaching myself guitar. Tuney would often stay well after her shift had finished at times to console me in the days when I was really struggling. I always felt she had such compassion and a fantastic bedside manner and had such a great way at listening to me when I needed to vent my frustrations at being in the situation I was, as well as happily sharing stories about her own life when I requested.
"What clearly hadn’t changed was the passion, care and attention that these nurses and other staff constantly provide for those in need"
Coincidentally, earlier that morning, Tuney had crossed my mind, but since I had been back a few times since I was admitted in 2007 and hadn’t seen her, I didn’t for one moment think she would still be there. But here she was. And after taking a second to recognise who she was, Tuney came over to me and again we hugged (not bad, three hugs from three nurses in 10 minutes). It was so good to spend quality time chatting to these incredible people. In the passing minutes, more stories were shared and along came Dr. Kin, an incredibly excellent Burmese doctor who recalled so much about my time on Laurel 3; from the difficulty she had in drilling through my hip bone to extract some bone marrow shortly after I was diagnosed, to intricate details of my chemotheraphy treatment right through to current work for Bpositive. Again, I was so surprised by just how much they all remembered. I guess this is testament to just how much they care for their patients.
Those 45minutes or so that I spent back on Laurel 3 in Worcester really touched me and were the highlight of my christmas. I was perhaps touched more so than I had expected. After saying my goodbyes to the staff and leaving them to get back to their day jobs, I found myself sat in my car, parked opposite the side of the building where my room was. I could see the window where I used to spend hours staring out at the “real word”, waving to the people passing by, jealous of their freedom and envious of those being able to carry on with their normal lives whilst I was battling blood cancer. It was a poignant moment for me for sure and one I was quite moved by.
For the appreciation I felt upon handing over a box of chocolate biscuits to the nurses, nothing can truly come close to rewarding Dr.Kin, Tracy, Kim, Tuney and all staff at Worcester Royal for all they did for me nine years ago. I was deeply proud to have visited the ward and to have been talked of as a “success” story. A success that those nurses would hopefully tell patients currently housed in the isolation rooms, with a view of instilling some hope, belief and inspiration for them during their journey through treatment.