There’s a place in Edinburgh you really don’t want to go. Upstairs, through a controlled entry door, into a little waiting room full of worried, tear-streaked faces.
It’s where you wait patiently for the phone in the corner to ring, summoning you somewhere that’s even worse, where loved ones hover in an ethereal neverland between alive and dead, conked out, hooked up, glassy eyed, tubes stuffed down throats, bags full of blood and urine and who knows what flopping over the side or dangling above their head.
Breathe deep now and try to make sense of the machines and the numbers and the beep, beep, beep. Then gaze in awe at the amazing people whose job it is to help gently nurture these broken bodies back to health, who note every tiny change, who wipe away bodily fluids and whisper words of comfort and then go home, come back and do it all again.
If the nurses, doctors, porters and auxiliary staff who keep our hospital intensive care units ticking along are heroes, then what does that make the phenomenal transplant teams with caring, compassionate nurses who hold strangers’ hands like mine and don’t say “it’ll be fine” because no-one knows if it will, but somehow still say the right thing?
Or the surgeons, with fingers that delve deep inside and take out what’s bad and put in something that we hoped and prayed would make my sick husband better. Then, when they should be at home laughing at the silliness of Holby City, instead check their patients and make relatives like me go weak at the knees in the presence of their sheer brilliance?
Cardiac teams, physiotherapists, dietitians... the NHS thunders along, fuelled throughout by hero power.
NHS Lothian is currently seeking to single out staff whose care, professionalism and dedication is worthy of the title Health Hero, a way of showing gratitude for a job really well done. Time is running out – nominations must be in by Friday.
In a celebrity obsessed world, there can be few greater role models than the selfless people who care for us in our times of most need. The word “hero” can only just begin to cover it.