By Amanda Brown
Arriving at Royal Brompton
The first time I was admitted to Royal Brompton it was straight from the clinic so I had nothing with me! Although I was nervous the nurses soon made me feel at ease. The nurse-patient ratio is better than I have seen in any local hospital so they have time to sit with you and book you in, so to speak.
There are some forms you have to go through like consent forms for self-medication, which basically means if you are well enough and want to self-medicate like you would at home, then they are happy for you to take control within reason. You also need to have all the normal tests and swabs for MRSA etc.
The good thing is, during this time the nurses chat with you find out a bit about you and you don’t feel like they have to be somewhere else - this puts you at ease straight away. They will also help you with towels, night gowns even shampoo and conditioner, etc if you wish, until your things can be brought in by your family or friends.
What to bring
I would take in plenty of reading materials. And if you like to listen to music or watch DVDs you are allowed to bring in portable DVD players - but remember the earphones.
Not sure if I should say this, but in the Victoria ward they do let you use your mobile to keep in touch with family and friends but just be respectful of the time of day and who is around you and don’t forget the charger.
If you are booked to come in then I do recommend you bring day clothes as I found most people (if they are well enough) like to get up shower and get dressed - it makes you feel a little more human.
Life on the ward
If you are not well enough to go and shower the nurses are happy to help you by either taking you to the shower or washing you by your bed, it seems to me that nothing is too much trouble for them! (Obviously, there are times that they are very busy so you might have to wait until they are ready but when you’re feeling that ill you don’t mind just resting and waiting for them.)
There is a TV in the ward if you want to stay in bed and watch. Or you can go to the day room to watch a bigger screen. They do have some Sky channels.
There are books, games and videos you can use during your stay. You can help yourself to tea and coffee throughout the day but they do come round about five times a day with some kind of food and drink - and in the afternoon run they serve cakes.
The food is quite good breakfast is my favourite you have the choice of cereal, toast, egg and various juices. Or all if you really want to, Sundays you get cooked breakfast.
The people you will meet
All the staff - the nurses, the cleaner and the people serving the food and drinks - are very nice, always joking and happy to help, even if they are having a bad day themselves.
The Fulham Road site is very old but they certainly keep it clean, they have a maintenance man that comes round to fix any broken things light bulbs etc, he even fixed my reading glasses for me!
You will probably be asked to go and have a few tests on the first day - blood tests, X-rays, maybe lung function. You’ll also have more tests throughout your stay, once they know what they are dealing with. They are very thorough and will do the best they can to get you better.
Support from other patients
What I like about Royal Brompton is that, although every patient has a different illness or different strain of asthma, all the patients I have met understand the highs and lows and what you are going through to some extent.
Last time I was in I was in a four-bed ward and we all took it in turns to have our bad days! But everyone around you understands and depending on what you want they leave you or comfort you.
It really helps pass the time of day when you have people to chat to. There are people that have to come in on a regular basis so they know the nurses very well and this helps in the relaxed atmosphere.
Nurses who understand
I have had to come in a few times since my first visit and all the nurses remembered me and are pleased to see me. Even though I was not happy about being back, I knew I was in the best place.
I found Debbie the asthma specialist a gem - she totally understands the moods that you feel while you are in hospital and I have seen people crying and laughing with her (and I’ve done both too) and she always seems to understand. If you need help in other areas she gets the person that can help you to come and see you or gives you an address or numbers to get the info yourself.
Since coming here I have had my medication changed and seem to be getting a little more control but there are times when I do need extra help and know that I can phone Brompton and they will advise me and I feel confident with the advice given.
It is never nice coming into hospital but I can assure you when you have to come here they really know how to look after you and get you better and home to your family as quickly as they can but they will never rush you.