Dear Tea Lady,
I am so sorry that I don’t know your name, but every time we have met (which has been probably 20 times over the past three and a half years!) I have been dreadfully ill and self indulgent. I do genuinely feel bad that I can’t remember your name as you have been one of the most important people in my recovery. But I’m going to blame the drugs.
So dear Tea Lady of the Northern General hospital, I wanted to write a big thank you letter to you. I have had 4 of my 5 surgeries at your hospital and benefitted from the wonderful care of top surgeons, consultants, anaesthetists, specialists, registrars, doctors, students, nurses and support workers. All of these people gave me the most brilliant support and health care, I am so lucky to live in the UK and get free at the point of care, world class treatment.
I have had my colon removed, an ostomy created, a jpouch created, a jpouch removed, two hernias fixed, a rectum and anus removed and another ostomy created. I have also spent weeks and weeks in hospital receiving medication, treatment, blood transfusions and care.
But you know the person who made me feel so much better every day? Yep, it was you!
I saw my consultant for a couple of minutes on their morning rounds, the doctors if something is going wrong, nurses through the day who are so busy and overworked and though I am sure they would like to spend a little more time with patients, they just can’t, I saw support workers, specialists and that huge team for the surgeries themselves. Yet it was your face that made me smile several times a day.
You make your rounds with your tea cart and after day one, take the time to remember, not only my name, but also how I take my tea! It is a small yet important part of my hospital day, a little feeling of personal care and a reminder of home.
You made me feel special, when you spend a lot of time in hospital, you very quickly become institutionalised, it’s so easy to end up feeling like a number. But you made me feel like a person, a person who likes their tea strong, yet milky and with one sugar.
I wonder if you know just how important your role is? Do you understand that you become a part of so many people’s recovery story. You are the person I saw the most, a constant, nurses change from shift to shift, you only see doctors if something is going wrong, yet you are the person I saw several times a day, every day. Your days off is always a sad one.
And so I want to thank you.
Thank you for all the tea, thank you for the extra biccies on the evenings where you thought I looked like I needed them, thank you for remembering me, thank you for knowing I am a person, not just a patient, thank you for the times you noticed I looked sad and came and touched my hand and made eye contact, thank you for taking your time to speak to me, thank you for the magazines you brought over when I was bed ridden, thank you for telling me about yourself, thank you for the gossip, thank you for being wonderful.
Tea Lady, you are awesome. (And I am really sorry that I can’t remember your name)