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!