Late one night in September 2014 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 the toilet would be filthy.

I’m very familiar with the layout of Southend hospital and so I headed for the nearest toilet, unfortunately that is in the x-ray department and it is closed at night.

So I pushed of in the direction of the main foyer because that has a disabled toilet (yep just the one!)

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 of the corridor 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”.

It frustrates me that a hospital would only have one disabled toilet in the main foyer!

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 propelling 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 for heart health, but I never heard back!

By Zechariah Richardson

Over 50, disabled, husband, father and gramps who reviews products and writes blog posts about his life, beekeeping, gardening and whatever pops into his brain!

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