To say thank you to the 1.4 million NHS workers, author and doctor Adam Kay has pulled together a book of more than 100 letters of thanks from Emilia Clarke, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Chris Evans, Martin Freeman, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss, Ricky Gervais, Naomie Harris, Jameela Jamil, Sir Paul McCartney, Kate Moss, Dame Emma Thompson, Louis Theroux, Sandi Toksvig, Stanley Tucci, Greg Wise and many more. The book will be released on July 9th, and all profits from will go to NHS Charities Together and The Lullaby Trust.
"I believe my first real memory of my beloved NHS is of the kindness of a nurse when, as a very sugar-dependent three-year-old, I’d climbed to the top of the bathroom cabinet and devoured an entire jar of sugary multivitamins under the cover of night-time. She very calmly told my slightly overwrought and worried mother that once the sugar high had worn off, there would be no lasting damage and that I would indeed be fit to fight another nursery day, and then some. The memories I will hold dearest, though, are ones that fill me with awe: of the nurses and doctors I knew by name when, in the weeks after my first brain haemorrhage, we watched the passing of time and the passing of patients in the Victor Horsley Ward at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London. The nurse who suggested — after everyone else in A&E struggled to find an answer when I was first admitted — that maybe, just maybe I should have a brain scan. She saved my life.
The anaesthetist who miraculously kept me giggling along with my entire family as he talked me through the process of what was about to happen to my brain and then counted me down from 10. The surgeon whose skill, quick thinking and sheer determination saved my life, while never letting on how close to death I had been.
The countless unthanked nurses who changed my catheter and cleaned up my vomit on the days when I couldn’t even manage water. The nurses who washed my body with care and love when I couldn’t walk or sit, who put me in pyjamas I recognised as my own when my morale dipped below the surface, with as much kindness as if I had been their own daughter.The cleaners who mopped the floor when my bedpan fell to the ground, shame and embarrassment filling the room along with disinfectant, and then a reassuring smile and a knowledge that they’d seen worse.
The doctors who talked to me as a fully functioning adult on their daily rounds, looked me in the eye and told me everything they knew, but always finished with a joke that was enough to assure me that I was actually in control of what was happening to my brain and body, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The phlebotomist who took my bloods every day, who normally worked on the children’s ward but was sent my way by the nurses after a day or two of trying to get a hold of my tiny hidden veins. Yes, I got a lolly. No, I didn’t feel a thing.
The cooks who made my fish in white sauce with peas every day, despite it being a child’s meal; it seemed to be the only thing I could eat at least some bites of. The nurse who brought my best friend’s note up from the cold outside when he’d missed visiting hours but knew how much it would help me get through the night. She had been on her way home.
When I was in ICU following a severe bout of dehydration-led aphasia, during which I lost my ability to speak coherently, I heard the patient in the bed next to me in the final moments of his life. One of the nurses on duty allowed my mum to stay next to me and hold my hand instead of leaving, as every other patient’s loved ones were asked to do. She saw that, in this moment, she held my fragile mind, and its capacity to pray that I wouldn’t be next, in her hands.
In all those moments, over those three weeks, I was not, not ever, truly alone." Emilia Clarke