Archive for February, 2011

Hospital Collection

February 10, 2011

HOSPITAL COLLECTION             By Brian E. Wakeman


Making ‘Light’ of Winter

In this poem the author reflects about bringing faith to the seasons of life.

After Autumn takes its feast

Of russets, and copper

Leaves fall, Winter proper

Blows in from North and East.

Hoar frost sparkling bright

Dresses conifers and sedge,

Hips and haws festoon the hedge,

And snow settles silent white.

Advent brings the Light to darkness,

Count-down Christmas preparation,

To celebrate  the Incarnation,

When love melts our icy hardness.

So we welcome this New Year

Expectation overcoming fear.




This poem gives light-hearted access, and insights for health professionals, into the experience of a patient facing surgery.


Six a.m. alarm.

Must keep calm;

Take it steady,

To be waiting ready

For a lift for a 7.15 check-in.

(What time does NHS begin?).

7.20 sitting, waiting,

Talking, writing nervously.

“You are fourth on the list” (hopefully).

“We telephoned two days ago

Several times, but missed you.

You were out you know”.

“We left a message on your phone”.

“Sorry you had a little moan”.

“The consultant works in the morning”.

(To patients ‘privately’ conforming?)

It is the August Bank Holiday,

So extend your patience in a tolerant way.

“Please change in  here,

But have no fear,

I know it’s really a loo,

And free from bacteria too.

We need a urine sample”.

(A  litre will be ample).

If you’re in the know

Turn on the tap to increase the flow!

A swab poked up your nose

To detect MRSA I suppose.

‘We’ll check your groin for e-coli

Or a rarer broccoli bacilli’.

‘You can sit in the waiting room’:

Just feel the anxiety and the gloom;

The TV weather chattering to itself,

While we wonder about our health.

A cheerful voice ended my concern,

“No need to fret. It’s now your turn”.

I ambled obediently following the nurse,

And lay there exposed for all to see.

For medics it’s another cystoscopy.

Just pretend you’re having a wee.

“Ah there’s a tumour I can see”.

And so we face another round

Of treatment on familiar ground.



A portrayal of a patient’s experience.

‘Just a prick in the arm

No need for concern or alarm.

We’ll inject some dye which may

Aggravate asthma, in a way,

(Not in your case let me say).

We’ll take some x-rays

While you lie dead still.

It’s one of the ways

We can check if you’re ill:

The health of your bladder,

Infections in the urethra,

Any issue with your kidney.

So we’ll just wait and see.

Don’t have too much to drink.

We don’t want you filling the sink!

Don’t ask for any explanation,

Radiographers will study their interpretation.

We’ll tell you alright

If anything comes to light’.




Knowing Your Case


(The author finds it disturbing that errors creep into medical practice:

through assumptions, inaccurate transcriptions, interpretations that need challenging.

“It pays to know your own case”.

Recently I’ve had to correct interpretations of being ‘a smoker’, having an ‘aortic aneurism’, and ‘asthma’, height and weight recorded inaccurately.

I’ve even had another patient’s medical conditions attributed to me.)

It pays to know

Your personal case.

It will ‘leak’ and show

In the medic’s face

She’s not scanned,

Prepared, or planned,

Making presumptions

About the medical history:

Inaccurate assumptions.

Surely this shouldn’t be?

Is it beyond professional wit

To pre-read the file a bit?

Then there’s no need to raise

The voice,(but quietly appraise).

We need your cooperation

For a stress free operation.


Some Nurses


This short poem is a tribute to the high quality nursing I’ve received at the L&D Hospital.


Some nurses

Are real physicians

Not just ‘technicians’.

They minister healing,

Know how you’re feeling.

They show warmth and empathy,

Express care and sympathy.

There is a kindness

Understanding of patient distress.

They’ve dropped the protective mask

Of ‘distance’ while performing the task.











(A reflection on the current practise of grading levels of pain)


“On a scale of roughly 1-10,

How’s your pain this morning, then?”

The problem is, “How can I state

If I’ve no criteria to evaluate,

Only a subjective guessing?”

I know it’s ‘stabbing’, ‘aching’,

‘Tear-jerking’, ‘sickening’,

‘Radiating’, gradually dissipating

After I’ve urinated

And twenty minutes have abated,

Unalleviated by paracetamol

And a mind confused by Tramadol

Reception at Haematology


(The degree of human skills of medics can be healing or hurting).

“Have you got a letter?

An appointment card would be better?”

“Has your name changed, or address?”

A distancing process, none-the-less.

Passed like a parcel along the line:

“Sit down Sir, there will be fine”.

The worry of waiting.

Stuffy heat unabating.

Then the welcoming smile:

“Sorry you’ve been waiting a while”.

“Come and lie over here on the bed.

Your wife can sit there instead”.

Then the careful examination,

Followed by patient explanation.

Time for me to ask questions

About treatment for infections.

After the warmth of encouragement,

The chill of a further appointment.









Scans: The Giant Polo


(A light-hearted portrayal of a patient’s experience of a CT scan).


“Put on a hospital gown”,

She said with an I.T. frown.

After struggling behind my back

Tying laces (I lacked the knack!),

I had to drink lots of H2O

So much so, I just had to go!

“Lie on your back, feet up to here”,

A giant polo filled me with fear.

(I hope I come out in mint condition

With several years in remission).

“Just a small prick in your arm”

“A warm feeling will do no harm”.

Then while they withdraw from range

Machine-like noises sound quite strange.

I’m bombarded with alien rays

Which uncover my secrets on their displays

I hope it will not be long to wait

Before the consultant reveals my fate.



CT Scan: Some Thoughts……


Mmm…today a CT scan…..

I’ve never been a fan

Of deadly x-rays

Of revealing displays

Of the inner you.

It’s radiation too….

They avoid contamination

Behind proper protection.

…..and what will they find?

Will it bring peace of mind?

Can I have the operation?

What’s the alternative situation?

….Well, I must manage my pain,

Use self-therapy this is plain:

“Is it true?”, this introspection.

“Is it helpful?”, cognitive suggestion.

Use some guided fantasy,

Self hypnotherapy.

“Ah, we’re really sorry Sir to tell you,

The power’s down, no appointments too.

We know you’ve struggled through the snow,

Lost some income, but we’ll let you know

When we can fit you in again.

We regret we’ve been such a pain.

Sorry we couldn’t phone.

We’ll do our best to atone”.



(This verse is a reflection on my experiences).

“You need a routine blood test,

So go to the hospital, that would be best”,

The GP advised sympathetically,

“See Dr Flora at Haematology.”

We had a friendly reception

But I had no conception

That CANCER would be involved

Until explained, so expertly told

About blood imbalances CLL’s

Platelets, counts of white blood cells.

To be given an explanatory booklet (why in an alarmist red?)

Raised the big ‘C’ word and feelings of dread.

“Is this is for someone else, not me?”

Bad news again, but some good, clearly:

“No treatment at present, but we keep an eye on you;

Keep out the sun, some tiredness perhaps and infections too”.


A Sample of Verse for Urology….

Humour is an important way of dealing with embarrassing issues

Our doctors are polite, never rude

Or even a ‘tad’ vulgar or crude:

“We need a lab sample for analysis.

(Not a half bucket full of ‘I wish’!)

Just pee in the wee pot

Without spilling the lot.

Avoid contaminating the inside

Or dribbling down the backside.

A clear flowing stream 

Is the urologist’s dream”!

Hopefully the Lab will say ,’All clear’

To flush away pathological fear.










“Just One Minute……

An ‘outsider’ view, perhaps needing an ‘insider’ review?

“Patients should avoid spreading infections

By using soap and alcoholic concoctions”.

But nurses have clean hands

As everybody understands!

“Lie down dear, you can keep your shoes on.

No risk here of a nasty infection!

The medical staff from A&E

Were personable, showing us sympathy,

And the consultant displayed precision

In making the treatment decision.

The Acute Care ward was hot, full of cacophonous sound,

The only breeze came from a consultant’s round,

They wired me up like a robot,

The tabs slipping off, thus losing the plot,

Sending the ECG into toxic spasm

Like a mechanical multiple org – – – -.

‘Sleep’ at night was a joke, a misnomer.

Loud voices and bleeps will save you from coma.

I didn’t use the emergency call. When I used it before

It took seven minutes to respond, so I’m sorry

I’ve just leaked on the floor!
























Physiotherapy: Getting Back To Work!


This poem gives insight into patients’ anxieties, and the un-spoken and spoken interplay, thoughts filtered in communication that social psychologists love to explore.

Perhaps it also illustrates the  importance of getting below the surface, the apparent, to the hidden but more real meanings in hermeneutics.

“Hello, how are you today?”.

“Oh, not too bad, I’m okay”.

(Well, if I’m speaking truthfully,

I’m low, and aching actually,

And I’ve just been told a tumour

Has re-appeared, so my humour

Is subdued, a little glum…

That’s  the truth, about the sum.)

“How have the exercises been?”.

(They created pain, so I wasn’t keen).

“Oh, I made a start, a stretch or two”.

(A pain in the neck, if more than a few).

“Well let’s take a look, see how you’re doing”.

(Will this be my B.O.’s undoing?)

“Show me doing your exercises.

There’s more here this sheet devises”.

“You are now much more mobile,

So I’ll massage for a while”.

(Why do I feel shy, so ill

At ease while lying still?).



















Day Bag

(Written after struggling with bag, straps and tubes on returning home from kidney/ereter and bladder surgery) 

The well-meaning medical wag

Who designed this devilish bag

Has never tried to wear

This slippery affair.

You can’t walk where you please

Without it sliding down your knees,

And with a catheter kink

You fill-up like a sink.

At the night-bag change

You need to stand out of range

Or take a urinal shower

Of demonic power!

Don’t expect the connectors to fit

They’ve confused the male/female bit!

Hygiene Controls


(This poem is written with ‘tongue-in-cheek’ to make you smile.

I closely observed the practise of staff who visited my ward and related to me as a patient.

I was alarmed by one doctor who replaced a cannula without following hygiene guidance even though I reminded gently. I noticed that not all consultant visits followed procedures visibly)

A policy for H.A. infections.

Strategy to implement suggestions:

We screen patients wisely thus preventing

Contamination of all in our care,

Give training for treating and controlling

So all Staff are practically aware.

Cleaners work constantly and carefully.

The budgets are cut hygienically,

(Surgically, administratively?).

Nurses conspicuously cleanse their hands.

But doctors one infers and understands

Can’t spread many microbes (MRSA),

By late-night cannula connections and play.

Consultants know all about infections

So we overlook their imperfections.


Post-Operative Stress

I wrote this trying to make sense of post-operative experiences, and coming to terms with recovery

In the two weeks after.


Why was the feeling of ‘peace’

Chased away by distressing unease?

I wondered why contentment

Was displaced by resentment,

Anger about lost medications

Discarding personal prescriptions:

A ‘whirlpool’, being out of control;

Hospital hubris and protocol.

Was it my codeine confusion

That gave a sense of intrusion,

(A hint of ‘loss’, of ‘violation’)

From such close examination

(Private, and personal invasion)

From this major operation?

Now after the tumbling cascade,

‘Washed-up’, with adjustments to be made

A rest and ‘loving’ recovery,

Hope and faith’s new discovery.

Thank You

A poem expressing appreciation for medical care at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

A ‘terza rima’.

For the Reception

Of my treatment.

At its inception

I’ll leave this comment:

“I’m so grateful”.

Here’s testament:

Being so helpful

Through long nights;

Attentive, careful

About acute care plights;

For Empathizing;

For tomato soup delights

When food was unappetising;

For servant leaders;

E.I. surprising;                            (E.I. ‘Emotional Intelligence’)

Hippocratic believers;

Skills of Urology;

Microsurgery designers;

Wisdom in Oncology;

For scans and x-rays;

Drugs of Cardiology;

Recovery phase;

Practitioner optimists;

For a budget that stays

Within plans of pessimists;

For needles of Phlebotomy;

Alchemy of anaesthetists;

For the hospital economy;

Bright-eyed physiotherapy,

And wonders of biochemistry.

Brian E. Wakeman

Educational Consultant

17 Coombe Drive


Beds. LU62AE


tele:  01582524711


Consumer Detox

February 10, 2011

Consumer Detox

I am a consumer.

The more I buy, the sooner

We come out of recessions,

In praise of possessions.

The untransformed mind

Is clearly defined

‘I am, because I buy’,

No need to ask ‘Why?’.

I may be squeezed

But don’t want to be freed.

It’s much too bold

To replace the mould.

The social norm

Is to closely conform.

It takes faith and grace

To give His Image space.