Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
11 May 2021
3:46 pm

Tales from a hospital bed: A room full of starving men in ugly dresses

Wesley Botton

After 19 days, several of which he was forced to starve, Wesley Botton is reminded of our need for investment in our health services.

Picture: iStock

Tuesday 11 May

Day 19

It’s my second day on the surgery list at Helen Joseph Hospital.

It’s the fourth time I’ve been through this process in the past few months and it’s never pleasant.

They start by cutting your food and water intake, then they slip you into an ugly dress which doesn’t close properly at the back. The lone doctor handling emergencies on that shift then creates a provisional order of operations which changes based on who is rushed into casualty overnight.

If the surgeon doesn’t have time to get to you, you’re placed on the list for the next shift.

Therefore, because the emergency list is a living document and human lives come first, the surgeons don’t know whether they’ll get to you until the end of their shift. They also don’t know where you will be placed on the next doctor’s list.

The result is that you are starved indefinitely.

I had porridge at 9am yesterday and at 11am this morning they gave me two slices of bread and a cup of tea. Nothing more today unless they operate.

To be clear, this is not a complaint. It’s just an observation based on my experience.

Unless there is an increase in the investment of public facilities like this, with more theatres, more doctors and more resources made available, this is the way it is, not just for me but for every patient here.

For some people, this slow process can be debilitating. Fortunately for me, they’re just trying to save my toe.
I’m also built like a racing snake, so fasting is something I do by nature and it’s not the end of the world. But it still sucks, almost as much as my ugly dress.

For the first time since I arrived, three of us in one room are on the list for surgery today and it’s like we’re all part of the same platoon.

It’s also a useful reminder that nobody here is more important than anyone else.

They’ll get to each of us when it’s our turn.