10 things I’ve learned about hospitals this week

Little Zach was born very early on Wednesday morning. He had a somewhat troubled delivery, and spent a couple of days in the neonatal care unit. He’s fine now, but we’ll be in the hospital for a couple more days yet. I’ve been at Luton’s sprawling hospital all day, every day, and here are some of the things I have noticed.

1. City hospitals are not designed. They develop like anthills or rabbit warrens.

2. There appears to be a hospital rule that every corridor must be patrolled at all times by a man pushing a wheeled conveyance. It can be a trolley, cage or some form of medical apparatus, as long as there’s someone pushing something in every hallway, all the time.

3. Hot food shall be served between the hours of 12:30 and 12:34.

4. All midwives are angels.

5. The colours used in hospital decor are unknown to both art and science, and may actually exist on an entirely separate visual spectrum. You will search your local DIY store in vain for such exotic hues.

6. Unlike planes, the personal entertainment consoles in hospital wards have speakers instead of headphones. I make the following case for headphones: you have curtains for walls, and Mama Mia is available on demand.

7. The number of things that come in disposable form that I was aware of has risen by a factor of ten. Everything is one-use-only in hospital. I wouldn’t be surprised if they demolish entire wings and inflate new ones each week.

8. Scrubs come in XXL, XL, and L.

9. The Philippines must be missing a few nurses.

10. The NHS may be a lumbering, tax-hoovering monster, but it’s a benevolent one. If I were living in Madagascar or Kenya right now, I could well have lost my wife and son on Wednesday. If I’d been living in the US, I’d have lost the house instead. Hooray for the National Health Service.


  1. I remember birth experiences like the closing scenes of a disaster movie – tear stained staggering father carries his bloodied but alive family from the smouldering ruins. Nearly everything else is mundane compared to the life and death drama of giving birth.

  2. Jeremy,

    Congrats again! I remember my son’s birth as a tour-de-force of everyone involved. I, too, had a similar realization that if it were not for the “western medicine” that I usually hold with moderate suspicion I would have lost both my wife and son. Lucky for you to have the NHS.

    We were lucky enough to have a state-run health service (recently cut from the state budget) to help us cover the outrageous costs of health care in the US, though we were kicked out after a C-section only three days prior (unbelievable) and had to be re-admitted a day later when it was clear that my wife was not ready to leave. (another argument for non-profit health care systems)

    I’m happy to hear you are all on the mend and your family is blessed with the new addition! Take care and savor the moments!


  3. ‘fraid to say you’d have probably lost your wife and child in the US to.

    After the Mrs had a form of pre-eclampsia known as HELLP syndrome we did some research and the stats on deaths in pregnancy in the US are pretty horrible.

    As it was Gloucester delivered the nipper at 33 weeks and he was discharged from special care at 36 weeks. The Mrs is fine now too.

    Hope things work out well…


  4. I spent eight days in the same hospital looking after the wife and the first family addition. There does seem to be a pecking order going on:

    African/West Indian Male: cleaner.
    African/West Indian Female: caterer.
    Asian Female: Nurse
    Asian and Philippine: SCBU Nurse
    Asian and Male: Doctor (or trainee doctor)
    European Male: Specialist
    Young European Female: Trainee Midwife
    European Female: Nurse in Australia
    Old European Female: Matron/Practice Nurse

    I only can assume that there are not enough hospitals in South America to export medical staff, or they have all found work in the US.

    That aside, the NHS do a fabulous job and work tirelessly to keep the babies (and mothers) comfortable and on the mend. Something to be proud of, whatever their ethnicity, culture or background.

  5. Congratulations – glad all is going well.

    Glad you’ve kept your sense of humour – I recall I lost mine pretty quick with all the stress and sleep deprivation.

    Try to enjoy the ride.


  6. Congratulations Jeremy! You now have the most important job in the world, being a dad. It is indeed a great blessing to have a healthy baby. I pray only the best for you and yours, God Bless.

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