Nobody enjoys visiting hospitals at any time, but 4am on a Saturday morning is especially to be dreaded.
Recently, my husband was suffering from a chest infection and his asthma was making it very hard for him to breathe so after guidance from NHS Direct we trundled off to the Northern General hospital.
The waiting room didn’t seem to be too busy and the staff dealt with us quickly and efficiently so we were soon ensconced in a cubicle. As ever in public institutions, we could hear the “goings-on” in other cubicles.
A well dressed hipster-looking, “20-something” couple were stage-whispering and took it in turns to rest on the bed in their cubicle. After surfacing the young woman had to be reminded that it was she who was the patient as she had passed out in the street, not her friend. When she was told that she would need to give a blood sample in order to assess her condition she again half-shouted that this couldn’t take place as she had taken MDMA. She then disappeared until the staff hunted her down after two hours. When the doctor attended,she had to admit indignantly to using illegal drugs as well as drinking heavily for at least 14 hours.
In another ward we could hear an incoherent young man whose companion told the doctor that he had been drinking heavily and had also taken MCAT. He had passed out on the street and couldn’t be woken.
During this time we saw groups of early-20-year-olds wrapped in blankets stumbling about, lying on the floor, arguing and generally treating the place like a common room.
The crux came when we overheard staff recounting that out of 90 attendees of A&E that night, only three had been over the age of 27,the majority due to alcohol /drugs.
Not having been a shy, retiring wallflower myself during my teens to 30s I understand the enormity and efficacy of alcohol in our rites of passage and socialising, but is it really considered “de rigeur” to have your stomach pumped after a night out?
Is it not shameful now to have to admit to illegal drug use, in order to save your own life?
At what point did alcohol stop being enough to lubricate the awkwardness of social meetings?