I saw from a friend’s profile picture on Facebook that the NHS is 70 years old and I’m so grateful for all that this epic institution has done for me in my life as well as for those around me.
I can’t express eloquently enough the role it has played in my life – it has saved me multiple times. And that’s not an exaggeration.
When I was younger, I was a troubled young thing. So sensitive, bullied at school and unsure of my place in this world. There came a time in my young, naive life where I was so low I couldn’t see a future for myself and I took an overdose. Not a huge amount but enough that if I hadn’t told my brother in tears what I had foolishly done, I most probably would have died. It seems like another person’s story – not mine – and yet it was a page in my life. And thanks to the NHS, I had my stomach pumped, received counselling and started my wobbly journey to finding my footing in this life.
Sadly this isn’t where my mental health improved completely and, as I’ve shared with you on this blog before, dear friend, I went through another dark period during university where I battled with eating disorders. At my lowest weight of five stone I felt that I wanted to curl into a ball and hibernate against the brutalities of this world. Again, my sensitivity, people pleasing and feeling torn between my (then) Christian belief and what seemed like a polar opposite world that I wanted to fit into and be part of all culminated into a period of extreme mental sickness and it was the NHS that picked me up and gave me the support I needed to survive. An amazing specialist, access to medication, regular medical checks to protect my health as best it could whilst depriving my body from much needed nutrition.
Thankfully that’s a long way in my past. Again, this Amy and who I am now feels a lifetime away. A lifetime I’ve had thanks to the medical support and services of the NHS.
And at the start of this year the NHS again saved my life as I experienced severe blood loss following the birth of my son as my uterus failed to properly contract. In the moments following his birth, my midwife sounded an alarm and suddenly I had five expert doctors surrounding me. Giving me medical support, pumping me with liquids, putting an oxygen mask on me for the shock, guiding my husband and our new baby down to the unit where I was being treated. It all happened in a blur but I never panicked because I knew that the medical experts had my health firmly in their competent hands. Again, I was saved by the NHS.
These are the big ticket uses I’ve made of the amazing NHS and they don’t even begin to cover all the other times I’ve been supported and treated by our medical system. The tetanus jab I received when my finger was bitten by a friend’s rat when I was young. The injections I received for free before coming away on my current travels. The midwife appointments I had when pregnant. The free contraceptive implant I have used for years.
And it doesn’t cover all those who I know whose life the NHS has saved. My cousin, Tom, who had life saving heart treatment as a baby. Charlie, the baby of an NCT friend who had similar treatment for his heart condition and continues to receive outstanding support. My grandma who developed and was treated for pre-eclampsia when pregnant with my mum. My grandad who was cared for by the NHS when he developed gangrene in his foot. And the list could go on…I’m sure we all have stories of what the nhs has done for us.
Sure, it’s not a perfect system. Far from it. I know this all too well after reading ‘this is going to hurt: diaries of a junior doctor‘ on this recent trip away.
But it is special. Granting all access regardless of social standing or how much you have contributed to its running costs. As an institution, I believe it should be cherished and supported and protected.
NHS, I love you. Happy 70th birthday ❤️