Archive | 22:12

Xmas Day At The High Dependency Unit

25 Dec

Ink sketch: Xmas at the H.D.U.

An elderly relative went into hospital for heart surgery a few days ago and after a night in Intensive Care, he was transferred to the High Dependency Unit for intensive nursing. He’s doing well and will hopefully be transferred to a general ward in a couple of days but we’ve been back and fro visiting him for the past five days and it’s a strange and unsettling place to be. Most of the patients are very frail and elderly and the Unit is very high-tech with patients hooked up to many machines and lots of tubes coming in and out of their bodies. Of course, these machines and the very high level of nursing care are saving lives and giving people a chance of a few more years of quality life, but the machines are quite scary and the atmosphere is necessarily not relaxed and homely like the general wards. At this time of year there are no Xmas cards or decorations, no personal items at bedsides, just the bare minimum of individual possessions in amongst all the medical paraphanalia. It reminds me a bit of The Matrix.

But visiting hours bring smiles to the faces of the patients and also the staff, who seem genuinely pleased to see their patients spirits lift when they get visitors. Everyone who went into the Unit at the same time as my relative seems to be getting stronger each day so there’s a lot to be grateful for. I know there are problems with the National Health Service and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak out and challenge poor care and bad attitudes, but when it’s working well it’s a fantastic thing that so many people in other parts of the world don’t have access to.Today it was especially poignant to remember that there are people unable to spend this holiday with their families, and that there are staff who are working through the festive season to keep others alive and well.

The drawing is done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size S into an A6 leather-bound recycled ‘Artbox’ sketchbook. I have changed the facial features to maintain anonymity. I wanted to capture the tininess of the human in amongst all the machinery and tubing.

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