Disclosure: I received a copy of ‘Bed 12‘ for review. The opinions below are my own and unbiased.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really thought actually happens when someone is admitted to Intensive Care. How would we as a family cope if one of us was taken seriously ill? Not the financial side of things, but how do you actually cope on a day to day basis.
Alison Murdoch had to confront this head on when her husband Simon contracted viral encephalitis. He fell into a coma and spent several weeks in Intensive Care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Bed 12 is Alison Murdoch’s account of that time – the story of what it was like to fight for her husband’s life.
It is a fairly slim volume, just 170 pages, and Alison Murdoch’s writing has such a flow to it that I quickly finished this book. I was desperate to know how Simon’s recovery would progress, and the epilogue gave closure to the story.
In Bed 12, Alison explains some of the practical steps she took to help her husband’s recovery. Things like playing familiar music, arranging for friends and family to visit, using essential oils to massage his hands and feet. But self-care is also vital while she is spending every day at the Intensive Care unit with Simon. Her Buddhist faith, and Simon’s Christian faith, provides a huge source of comfort and support, and friends from both faiths rally around her.
As an atheist, I did worry that I might feel like the book was pushing the Buddhist faith on me. But that’s definitely not the case. Instead, I finished Bed 12 feeling very happy that Alison and Simon had so many people rooting for them.
But for me, the real stars of this book are the staff of St Thomas’s Hospital. Alison Murdoch compares the hospital to a city, with its own community and way of life. The staff in the Intensive Care unit look after Simon with such care and attention, it’s really amazing to read. They listen to Alison when she tells them about his preferences and take on board her suggestions.
It’s worth pointing out that in many countries, this level of care would have bankrupted Alison and Simon. Even if with adequate insurance cover, weeks of Intensive Care would have had a huge financial impact that Alison would have had to deal with alongside the emotional stress that she was under.
I really believe that Bed 12 is a book that everyone should read. It’s an excellent reminder of the amazing treasure we have in the NHS, and how we really need to protect it. The NHS is coming under serious attack now, and if we lose it, we will surely regret it.
What do you do when the most important person in your life is about to die? Who can help you? How do you keep going?
When Alison Murdoch’s husband catches viral encephalitis and falls into a life-threatening coma, everything changes. Bed 12 is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it’s like to fight for someone’s life.
Over the course of a summer, machines beep and clatter, medical staff come and go, and family and friends of varying beliefs offer well-intentioned advice. For someone unfamiliar with hospitals, death and dying, the insights of Buddhism assume a greater relevance than ever before. This book is an astute, profound and uplifting insight into how to cope with despair, heartache and the unknown.
‘The object of my concern-or rather the entire focus of my current existence-is now lying in Bed 12’
This fascinating and uplifting book is a reminder of the importance of the NHS : 8.5/10