Through Isla’s various hospital admissions I’ve stayed on my fair share of hospital beds. In fact when I now tell one of my friends that Isla is back in hospital, I get a 3 questioned reply: 1. How’s Isla? 2. Do you need anything? 3. What’s your bed like?
Hospital parent beds are part of life! So here is a run down of the ‘Bedsies’.
St Mary’s Manchester
At St Mary’s, which was an unexpected admission, I had to make my own bed using a mix of different chairs; I’m talking thin plastic ones that you’d have sat on at school, faux leather chairs, slightly padded ones with suspect stains and tall back nursing home chairs, with even more suspect stains… Uncomfortable is one word I could use to describe that bed. The pictured bed is a slight upgrade, as you can see I managed to trade a plastic one for another slightly padded one. Bliss! I didn’t sleep much but at least they let me stay so beggars can’t be choosers.
When we moved rooms after Isla’s birth I had the pleasure of a chair, but upgraded to Kerry’s hospital bed. This isn’t as bad as it sounds… Because of the C-Section and suspected urine infection Kerry had to drink a pint of water every hour and provide numerous urine samples; getting on and off a hospital bed with abdominal stitches and a cannula in her hand proved too difficult and as she had to drink pretty much constantly through the night I generously gave her my chair in exchange for her bed. I didn’t really get to take full advantage of this luxury comfort though as I had to escort said wife to the bathroom and help her on and off the toilet every 5 minutes. And it took about 5 minutes to hobble her to the bathroom at the end of the ward, stay and help catch bloody urine (I’m not cursing, I’m talking urine with blood in it), then carry the red urine around the ward while trying to hunt down the 1 nurse split between 4 bays and 16 women. I’ve seen things I’ll never un-see. They say having a baby changes things… stuff like that explains why!
Our 3rd room at St Mary’s I had a more uniform selection of chairs to go at to form a bed. There were still a nice selection of stains to sleep on but at least they were all the same height more or less. I had to take advantage of Kerry going for little walks around the room to steal half hour naps or sleep on route to Alder Hey if someone was giving me a lift. The common denominator between all these experiences was my trusty hoodie as a pillow. You’d think somewhere along the line a nurse, or even a friend, would have brought me a pillow!? Still, while drunk I’ve used a shoe as a pillow before.
Ronald McDonald house
Can’t say enough good things about this charity accommodation. We’d have been lost without it. With this in mind I can’t be too critical. We stayed in White Rabbit. The wooden beds had obviously been well used, I hate to think of the number of little Rons and Rhondas that have been conceived on those beds. By the sounds at night I’d wager it’s a disturbing amount! The sturdiness of the beds reflected this, with every shift of weight on the bed rewarding you with a lovely squeak. Still a million times comfier than a row of chairs! And the ability to watch digital tv, using a separate digital conversion box, on a early nineties tube tv shouldn’t be underestimated as a luxury. I’m being serious. In comparison to hospital pay tv at a price of £50 a day for 10 channels which barely work, a home comfort like an old school tv is a treat.
I told you Kerry broke a microwave in McHouse, well she also broke, not 1 but 2 of the McHouse wooden beds. One in White Rabbit and one in Minnie on our 2nd stint in McHouse. Fortunately, grandpa Hutton was on hand with his tools to fix both. I’d love to take some credit for the broken beds 😉 but I was in no way involved… which does beg the question: what was she doing those times she was there without me? I’m going to have to assume jumping on the bed.
One thing that really got to me was hearing some parents refer to McHouse as ‘the hotel’. This wasn’t just simplified language to a little one, this was speaking to other adults. It really wound me up. They weren’t talking about the Travel Lodge or Premier Inn, it was definitely McHouse (You become an expert, ninja eavesdropper when you live on a hospital ward!) No it’s not the best place in the world, it’s dated and it’s not always clean, I know a friend who got flea bites sleeping there, it is like a youth hostel but certainly not a hotel. It should cost £25 a night to stay and it’s free, running off donations and volunteers. It’s amazing.
Like the beds in McHouse, but slightly less squeaky. The apartments are lovely though. The whole of McHouse is like a home away from home, but the freedom of having your own lounge and kitchen makes you feel a little bit more human again. I should mention here that the beds in both the House and the apartments are twin single beds separated by a bedside cabinet. No covers being stolen. No ‘my feet are cold, can I warm them on you?’ No fear of dying from rolling into an exhale of morning breath. No ‘if you poke me again I’ll chop it off!’ (my finger you dirty creatures!) They say there’s no bed like your own bed but I do miss twin beds!
Alder Hey Ward’s Sofa Beds
What can you say about the Alder Hey sofa? Ask my chiropractor! Not as uncomfortable as the uneven chairs but not far off! Again, to be fair, I’d have been lost without that bad boy, and you do kind of get used to it. There were only 2 sofas in Blue and 1 in green I haven’t slept on in 1c… I don’t want to try them… but just to give you an idea of the length of our stay and moving from high dependency to lower dependency. The sofa arms fold down to form a bed so you can sleep in the room with your child, which is greatly appreciated, but they are unforgiving to say the least. They are also like Teflon. No sheets or pillows will ever stay on the sofa for more than a few minutes, no matter how long you spend making it into a neat looking masterpiece of a bed. The result is always a pile of sheets and blankets on the floor in the morning.
The pull down beds in Orange are absolutely amazing, but as Orange is a shared ward for day case and pre-op, patients for surgery start to come in at 6/7am. You can appreciate that little children are scared and anxious about their upcoming procedure, so when Thomas the Tank comes on full blast from the bed opposite, you have to suck it up. At least the comfortable bed allows for a good quality sleep, providing there are no binging machines, or other snoring parents through the night. Chance would be a fine thing!
The fold out camp beds on E5 at Bolton Royal are glorious! Easily the winner of the most comfortable beds awards! Genuinely really good. That doesn’t mean you always get to sleep of course. One of the rooms has a strange buzzing sound, which the nurses do know about, but don’t know what it is… reassuring.
One of them, the curtains are about 3 foot too short, and in another the curtains miss meeting by a similar margin; so when the sun’s up, you’re up! I sent a picture of it to one of my ex-colleagues at school who used it in a lesson to show the children in Year 6 why in fact Maths is important and why they have to help Tim and Sanjay measure the distance from A to B.
The room we’ve stayed in twice on the ward has a great view of a dead pigeon on the roof of a different part of the hospital; it was still there 3 months or so after our first stay in the room. I remember just praying it wasn’t an omen, but then reminded myself that the pigeon was flying through Bolton so it probably died as a result of depression.
I know it seems like I’ve complained about these experiences; ok in fairness I have whinged a little, but in the moment you just appreciate the chance to stay near your baby. I’d sleep on broken glass to be near Isla; I’d be concerned as to why there was broken glass in a hospital room but I’d do it. A short stay in hospital just makes you so much more aware of the shortfall in funding the NHS has suffered in recent years. The pillows, if you can find one in a hospital, have all been abused to the point where you might as well put your head down on a popped balloon. My advice if you ever find yourself looking at a long hospital stay: take your own pillow!
Anyway… there you have it. Awards time!
Best beds: Bolton.
Best rooms: Alder Hey.
Best accommodation: McHouse apartments.
Best selection of random chairs: St Mary’s