At this time of year when I do a week on call attending to the emergency admissions and usually forgoing lunch, visits to the toilet, any sense of normality etc; I do not see any daylight for 7 days. The result of this is that I crave light and sunshine like a drug addict. I feel strange, I am immersed in work and it’s artificial lighting and the darkness of outside.
On my first day off afterwards I try and spend as much time as possible outside even if it is grey, as it was all of last week until finally the sun came out on Sunday and broke my 13 day run of not seeing the sunshine.
It does make me think how my patients must feel. I have several patients waiting on social care packages who have been on the ward for months. They haven’t left their bay (6 bedded area: we have old fashioned British wards, there are 4 bays and 6 side rooms for 30 patients) for that whole time; there are no relatives to take them to the shop or to the cafe.
It makes me want to cry for them, no wonder they are so sad and depressed. They eat nothing other than the hospital food, hospital coffee and tea, drink water in a plastic glass.
How they must crave the sun, a China cup of tea, a glass of water, a towel that doesn’t take the skin off you. Even the ability to break wind and know nobody has heard you. I would go insane, they must be going insane.
And every morning and evening I come and ask them how they are, and they are polite and lovely and only very occasionally unhappy. Sometimes they mention that they’d love a glass of wine or a steak and we all look pained and embarrassed.
We are obsessed in this country with giving money to charity: I have just seen an advert to sponsor snow leopards followed by one for clean water in Africa. We hand over thousands of pounds but hardly anyone gives that more precious commodity, their time.
Charity is on your door step and it doesn’t always need to cost money.