Becoming Institutionalised in Hospital

For the past 8 nights I have been in hospital getting treatment for my eczema.

(Actually I got out a few days ago and I am writing this up as if I had just got out. Unfortunately, English grammar does not have the means to write this way, hence this long note).

I had bandages on my arms and legs. I was taking industrial amounts of anti-histamines and lots of steroid creams. People have assumed that I was in a lot of pain – that is the natural reaction when one hears about someone being admitted into hospital. I was in mild pain and I could have stayed at home and convalesced there. But I was steadily getting worse over the past few months. I needed a break and my skin needed time to heal. So I was admitted.

Hospital Bed

I have been battling with eczema all my life. The main strategy is to control it so that it is tolerable and I can get on with life. The tactics are simple: don’t scratch. Unfortunately, it is harder than it sounds and there needs to be rigorous and disciplined regime of creams, moisturiser, anti-histamines, avoiding allergens and so on. Telling an eczema sufferer not to scratch is one of the worst things to say because it is so self-evident. It demeans the intelligence of the eczema sufferer. However, it is also one thing that must be done to heal the skin. I have been guilty of breaking my own advice.

In the end, my hospital stay was the best thing I have done during my holiday in England. My skin healed a lot. I had time to read, do the crossword and play computer games excessively. NHS food was quite good. The doctors and nurses were professionally compassionate and competent. My thanks to the former health secretary, Tessa Jowell.

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