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The Breaking Heart of the NHS

Updated: Apr 14

This is just one of many stories from inside the walls of a hospital. I share it because this moment touched me deeply. This is from when I worked on a hospital ward in an administration post.

In this job I was usually very busy with paper or computer based work. My patient interaction was very low as often I would be away in the office, doing my part to keep the ward running. Every now and then a particular patient would shine a little brighter for some reason. Their circumstances will touch something within me. Their eyes will reach out to me as I pass them. And maybe we’ll have a conversation that stops my thoughts and suspends time for a while.

This one particular day we had a patient whose eyes melted me from within. I remember walking onto the ward one morning when he was having his first breakfast. The sight of him and his eyes stopped me in my tracks, and I went over to greet him. His eyes were so full of love, surrender, gratitude. I couldn’t speak... only able look at him as he was being fed. He had a way of drawing out the purest love from every staff member, with his eyes. I saw everyone turn into angels once they were in his presence.

He was mostly unable to move. However one day he managed to hug his wife. She was jumping up and down in tears with happiness after it happened. I witnessed the whole emotional event. It was a huge step for them both. People are just beautiful. Love is beautiful.

As his stay at the hospital came to an end, I felt heavy. The future for couples such as these holds so much heartache. This man has a disease that will slowly debilitate him further and terminate his life much faster. His wife can only watch and try to savour each precious moment that she can have, before the later stages are reached. It is likely that if admitted to hospital again, it will be for end of life care. The joyous moments will turn into sadness. We will be the ones hugging his wife. Then she will finally leave alone, without her husband coming home ever again.

This is the raw truth of working in a hospital. It is really hard and hospital workers inevitably leave every day carrying someone within their hearts and minds. They go home knowing that life on the ward never stops. The next morning they will face the aftermath of what they left behind the night before. They can never truly turn it off.

When it comes to work, I pick things that will change me. Some nights, I stare at the wall allowing my heart to break apart again, I wish I’d made different choices, also knowing that the easy road was never the road for me.

I also hope that if my heart breaks enough times, maybe it’ll never close, and I’ll finally understand what it really means to have an open heart.

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