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Jane Bates: What ‘eating cake’ means to a loved one

Enquiring relatives are no longer given a bland brush-off by staff – and rightly so.
Jane Bates

Enquiring relatives are no longer given a bland brush-off by staff – and rightly so

‘How is she?’ I enquired of the nurse on the ward.

‘Sitting up in bed eating a whopping great piece of chocolate cake,’ she replied.

That told me everything I needed to know; my relative was recovering from her operation and communing with confectionery – in other words, behaving normally.

After hours of anxiety this cheered me up no end, and I thanked the nurse profusely. At a stressful time, this is what family and friends want to know. The medical ins and outs will come later.

Are they back safely from surgery? Are they conscious? Distressed, vomiting, in pain? Evidently not, on this occasion.

The nurse’s reply was so different from the bland, non-committal non-information hospitals dished out years ago. These stock replies were a running joke

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