Late one night last September my wife was rushed to A&E at Southend hospital, after being there for a few hours I needed to use the toilet and so I set off in my wheelchair to look for a disabled toilet leaving my daughter to sit with my wife. I didn’t want to go into the A&E waiting area because it was a friday and the waiting area would contain people that had been drinking and would be filthy.
I’m very familiar with the layout of the hospital and so I headed for the nearest toilet, unfortunately that is in the x-ray department and it was closed at night, so I pushed of in the direction of the main foyer because that has a disabled toilet, I entered the main corridor that runs the length of the hospital and it was dimly lit, as I pushed on the lights automatically came on in each section and then turned off behind me, I had never seen the place empty before and it was very eerie. I made it to the foyer, the Costa Coffee is open 24 hours but was empty except for the barista busily wiping down the counter. I wheeled up to the toilet door only to see a sign “OUT OF ORDER”.
By now my need to use a toilet was very urgent, I remembered that there was another disabled toilet back the other up the corridor and so I span my chair around and pushed off, once again I entered the corridor and the lights in that section sprang to life, the corridor ahead was lit by a flickering bulb and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the catalogue of horror films with corridors lit the same way. I have to admit that my heart was pounding because of my over active imagination and I was now proppeling my wheelchair even faster the last few hundred meters. Finally I entered the old part of the hospital, the old main entrance which dates back to the 1930’s, a narrow corridor to the right was where the disabled toilet was and I wheeled in and locked the door.
I laughed out loud as I sat on the toilet, I couldn’t believe I had let my imagination run away like that, I knew the hospital well and yet I had just been convinced I was in a horror film scenario. I washed my hands and opened the toilet door onto the dimly lit corridor and was confronted by someone stood right there, I yelled out in fear, my heart felt like it was about to leap out of my chest! The lights came on and I realised that on the narrow corridor wall opposite the toilet was a life size cut out of a nurse with a notice which read “Have you washed your hands?” I laughed, possibly out of relief that it wasn’t a knife wielding maniac or a zombie but also because I knew how stupid I was.
I wheeled out onto the main corridor and saw a nurse (a real one) walking up the corridor, she gave a little laugh as she walked past and I knew my girlish scream must have echoed down the corridor. I did email the hospital to explain how a life sized cost out of a nurse so close to a door wasn’t a great idea, but I never heard back!
Until next time!