Dr Read was jubilant that his ward had the best outcomes in the out-patient department but as a result he was under increasing pressure to find space for all the referrals to Lit ward 10. The room adjoining the old office of the Chief Exec’s now departed Bright Ideas Manager was now a second day-room and a smaller office next to it that once homed the BIM’s largely redundant secretary housed two much needed beds for the more serious cases. The patients didn’t mind that it was cramped, so long as the reading light was good and the book supply constant.
In the past few months referrals to Lit Ward 10 had soared with people all over the country suffering from a new condition diagnosed as Solliciti Esse in Exitus, known as S.E. Cases affected people of all ages and from all demographics. There was not yet a cure, but Dr Read’s lit therapy kept the worse symptoms at bay be they poor sleep and depression or anxiety and anger issues, with all the physical symptoms that tend to accompany these disturbances including appetite and digestive disorders, hypertension, headaches, to name but a few.
To ensure everybody's need could be met, books in a variety of languages, as well as a number of auditory materials had been added to the ward’s library for the benefit of those for whom reading was difficult. A few of the most popular books were now being presented on video in sign-language. They were so stretched with referrals they had also set up a helpline and a web page, with instructions on how to make Letta’s Jamaican hot chocolate and how to mix a perfect G&T as well as a selection of reading material.
It was notable that a high number of referrals came from within NHS staff members, and even the Chief Exec had agreed that Occupational Health department should have a Lit Ward outreach suite where staff could have some down time with a good book, even though he'd limited it to half an hour at a time. You couldn't have nurses and therapists lolling about all day reading. But to show he was committed he'd even donated a comfortable chair in the hope that it would to stop staff from having to take sick leave.
If only the Chief Exec would allocate more funding, thought Dr Read, as he submitted the week’s outcomes. Dr Read found himself using the forbidden word when he muttered that the Chief Exec with his inept management skills, was a complete Br***t. He wondered if the term would become common parlance one day.
On the day ward, Nurse Gorgeous, (now Mrs De Licious but she was keeping her own name for professional use,) was doing the blood pressure checks and keeping an eye on the reading matter. Occasionally patients sneaked in unsuitable books. When she gently removed one such item from a young man wearing an earnest expression and a man-bun, he accused her of censorship and that she had no right to interfere with his freedom of reading material. She explained that on this ward reading was medication and that she was quite sure that if he had been self-medicating with the wrong pills, he wouldn’t object to his doctor prescribing the correct ones. He agreed and let go of the inflammatory tome. She gave him a selection of books to choose from that would soothe his soul and the other item, which had the name Aaron on the cover, was deposited in the incinerator. Half an hour later he was smiling at the antics of Don Tillman PhD and his approach to romance.
Dr Read’s article in The Lancet on Reading to Alleviate the Symptoms of S.E was well received and all over the country people were finding some relief through turning the pages of their books, swiping their e-readers or plugging in their headphones. Everyone undertaking the therapy agreed it helped although it could not entirely prevent S.E.
This article recommends that you too read if you are suffering from S.E.