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The Future…

Fast forward to February 2023…

The heatwave of Summer 2022 didn’t break until the end of Mid-November. But what a shock people had, after months of extremely high temperatures, a weather system had swept in from Siberia.

Forecasters were warning, there is no end in sight of this weather front moving away. It was dominant and stagnated, they said. For the first time since 1963 parts of the River Thames were frozen. Only those that lived through the winter of 63 knew what it was like. With huge snow-drifts and freezing cold temperatures by day and by night.

Temperatures, were plummeting, people were unable to travel on trains to work, due to affect the train companies were facing with ice and snow. The roads, were like ice-rinks and by mid-January local authorities were limiting the roads they were gritting due to low salt supplies.

It didn’t matter where you lived, north or south, we all suffered heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.

Christmas was bleak for everyone… slowly drip by drip news-readers would tell us of those who were suffering due to this atmospheric pressure and the cost-of-living rises. The homeless, increased in numbers, with hostels were at breaking-point.

Banks were foreclosing on mortgages; with a high rate of debt this crisis had caused people to get into. Debt they couldn’t pay back.

From October 2022, the cost of electricity and gas had reached a point where if you had the heating on a bare minimum, you were facing monthly payments of over £600. Homes were not being heated. It was dire… you had a choice… food or heating. It was one or the other. Even the rich were finding their assets dwindling, with mansions now standing empty, where the rich were even downsizing.

But Hilda was OK, you see, because she was one of the lucky ones who’d been admitted to hospital. Finally, she was warm, so she thought.

You see, her GP was due to visit early February, to check her blood pressure and diabetes. Hilda didn’t think they’d be able to get to her. Day by day, Hilda was losing weight, sleeping far, far more, and her vision was now becoming blurred. With her frequent toilet visits, Hilda was finding it hard to keep her body warm.

And all she could afford, on a basic pension, was to keep that one living room barely warm as she lived on tinned soup and bread.

On this bitterly, cold Friday February morning, Hilda’s doorbell rang. She struggled to get up and tried to hurry in case they went, finally she managed to open the door and there stood her GP, dressed in a heavy coat and thick scarf, gloves with his nose looking like Rudolph.

As she opened the door to GP, he instantly felt how cold it was in Hilda’s home. And looking at her frailty immediately decided that she wouldn’t survive another day, if she didn’t get into hospital.

After a quick chat he soon realised that her diabetes was dangerously way out of control… after numerous phone calls, the GP found her a hospital bed. It wasn’t local but in London, 135 miles from her home.

Hilda was reluctant to go that far, her GP firmly told her, that she must go… she is a very ill woman.

After what was an eternity, she finally arrived at A&E, later that night. The hospital was at breaking point, but it wasn’t long before the doctors and nurses became responsive and proactive around her bed. With one nurse taking blood and another attaching her to monitors and drips, with one Doctor barking his orders at one nurse, of what scans etc, he wanted Hilda to have. She was covered again with what seemed like yet another tin foil blanket. She could feel herself drift in and out of consciousness.

Her bed in hospital felt so warm, unlike the sofa in her home. Which had had frost both inside and outside of every window.

In one of her more lucid moments, she told them she hadn’t eaten properly for weeks, what spare cash she had went on the gas. It wasn’t long before Hilda was on an ICU ward.

Hilda was waiting for an update on her blood tests and scans.

She told them, that it was too cold to move around at home. So, she sat snuggled up on the sofa most of the day in her coat and wrapped herself in blankets to try to keep warm. But still she felt the cold and would find herself shivering at times. Especially as her bathroom visits were becoming more frequent and what with keep having to go upstairs to her freezing bathroom it seemed as if she was shivering more and more.

As Hilda laid her in hospital bed, attached still to the drips and monitoring machines, one Sunday morning, she thought of days gone by… her youth. Hilda was now a shadow of her former self. She had always had the looks, and in fact she was rather vivacious in her early 20’s. And still was a little cheeky when talking to the young doctors.

She so liked the mannerisms of this one particular doctor on the ward, he made her feel young again. Instead of a frail old cranky woman. He spoke softly and was never patronising or condescending, unlike the other doctor in the ward.

She chuckled when she thought of her younger self. People would frequently remark how she had more lives than a cat. But not now, at her age she had become wary of everything and everyone. But back then, she was like a woman running on partial power, working in stealth mode, she saw everything up close, for what it really was. Nothing got by Hilda.

Monday arrived, and it finally had stopped snowing and one of the nurses arrived in ICU saying… ‘Finally, they say this depression will be moving away by the end of the week and we will return to near normal temperatures.’

It was on that Tuesday afternoon, before she saw her cheeky doctor, who she referred to as her ‘toy boy’. But this afternoon, he wasn’t cheeky, he wasn’t smiling, in fact she thought she could see a tear appear in his right eye.

Those Monday test results… showed there had been more damage to her body than had previously thought caused by her diabetes. This once, cheeky doctor, could barely say the words, as he held her hand and quietly said ‘Hilda my love, …..

In late March, the inquest concluded that Hilda’s cause of death was from organ failure due to her diabetes, malnutrition, hypothermia and that she was also suffering with hypostasis in the lower parts of her body, due to poor circulation. The coroner also stated that this is not the first case and it definitely won’t be the last. The true cause of death was the Cost of Living Crisis.

3 responses to “The Future…”

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