I received a grade A whinge regarding the non completion of the hospital diary from one of those with even less of a life than me who reads this nonsense. So to my loyal reader, here it is. But much of it was written while I was pissed so excuse me if it doesn’t make sense. At least the beer gives me an excuse.
Blissful, drug assisted, painless sleep is savagely terminated with a brisk curtain opening, and a plethora of starch uniforms busily tidying up water bottles, scabby sheets and dead bodies from those who didn’t make it through the night.
6AM? Why the hell wake us up now? Local dignitaries visiting? Hospital inspection perhaps? Bomb Scare? Nope, apparently the breakfast and drugs start as the dawn has barely cracked to ensure we’re in best shape when the Doctors rounds start some two hours later.
No breakfast for me. Christ I’m hungry so I feast on a cocktail of painkillers and all the water that goes with it before it’s wrenched from my grasp as nil by mouth demands.
I’m now bagged and tagged with hospital bracelets and feeding off a saline drip that is my constant companion for a couple of days. My breezy “do’t bother I won’t be here for long” is met with tight smiles and needles.
Bored. Study my surroundings – the ward is a 25 by 15 foot oblong housing four beds and a bog. The bog on closer examination offers a shower as well which’d be great if I wasn’t swathed in enough bandages to audition for a burns victim.
My fellow inmates range from a Freddie Flintoff clone busted up from an Alcohol + Scooter accident after literally dying for a fag. I’ll explain this later – it’s both bloody funny and slightly worrying in equal amounts. To my left is a groaning scouser and while I initially worried he’d steal my paper, grapes and possibly kidney he’s clearly beyond fucked up post emergency appendix op. From the scar, looks like they went for a caesarean. Opposite is Ken, a lovely fella of sixty plus who fell off his bike, bust his shoulder and now they’re talking about removing parts of his leg to rebuild it.
I’m starting to feel that I get off lightly.
Doctors arrive. They glide in with their entourage of lesser beings and sweep past us annoying patients before halting briefly at the end of bed notes. Occasionally they ask how we’re feeling but before we answer they don’t care and are busy instructing their protoges on how “Mr Smith’s posterior ligament has refluxed under abnormal pressure and now requires complex surgery using our new “mole grip technology” “. Mr Smith at this point may ask irritating question such as “What the fuck are you talking about?” but they’ve already been and gone to the next poor incumbent.
We’re not patients, we’re bloody barely mobile case notes.
I’m “under” Mr Jones which is a bit of a worry especially if he’s Welsh but no amazingly he#s not a total arse. Around one hundred pre-pubesant teenagers poke and prod my wounds and words were exchanged when one of them attempted to remove a blood caked bandage. Still he literally and metaphorically lowered himself to my level and assured me that a general anesthetic, a few stitches and a following wind would see me out of here.
I felt a bit of a fraud. I inquired in a haughty manner (as haughty as a bloke dressed in tragic mountain bike shorts, nothing else and two days silvery wolf like stubble could) why they had to keep me in? “Because” move prinz nez to nose end and examine specimen beneath you “an inch higher and your kneecap would be smashed and half an inch deeper your major tendons would have been sliced, both of which would ensure we kept your delightful company for a little longer. And you may never have walked properly again“
That’s me told.
“So what time is my op then” I enquired having accepted that those with seven years of grant funding possibly knew more than me “well we’re not sure, there are 14 in front of you“. 14! Jesus, was it national throw yourself in front of a car day or something. “Can I have something to eat then” “No“
Carol turned up righteously abusing visiting hours. She brought food I couldn’t eat and stuff I could read. There wasn’t much to talk about and frankly embarrassment was the core emotion on my part anyway. I’d spoken to my boss and apologised for making full use of the medical insurance and he#d been serenely magnanimous, more concerned about my injury rather than non attendance. Even drugged up, that felt strange because for the last ten years not working meant not being paid.
Started to feel pretty hungry but even though there were 14 more deserving cases, the nurses assured me that at some point today they’d out the general aesthetic and wire brush. I entertained myself through the suffering of others especially Chris – the window cleaning Flintoff clone – who had nicked a moped after a big night out. Not, as he strenuously explained, because he was pissed but rather because he was desperate for a fag and couldn’t be arsed to stagger to the local off license. His perambulating voyage foundered on the rock of urban furniture that is a litter bin, and he arced through the air like a working class superman before gravity and concrete claimed him. His index finger took most of the impact rather badly leaving it pointing in a direction which required a complex operation to ensure it showed angular solidarity with the rest of his hand.
Funny, he looked like a thug but was actually a top bloke and we bonded to a level where I distracted the entire nursing staff through the medium of feigned knee pain while he rushed down the corridor dragging his drip behind him. He was still desperate for a fag you see and we cooked up a scenario where I lay prostrate on the floor screaming in agony while he sidled down to the ground floor for a crafty smoke. Honestly I was that bored, it seemed like the right thing to do.
My reward was his entire stash of FHM and Playboy plus the promise of free clean windows for life. Seemed like a fair swap.
Everyone is eating except the nil by mouth crowd who just dribble in a Pavlovian manner.
You’re still due to go to theatre today they promised. “What’s on I asked? I’ve always hankered after the Lion King“. The response of the medical staff was probably tainted by the previous floor based antics in that the best estimate of possible surgery was a pained smile and the promise of rubber gloves later.
Carol turned up again with the kids. Verbal soon announced “hospitals are boring” – a sentiment with which I could completely concur. Still at least she could leave with no more than a box round the ears whilst I was marooned until further notice. By this time painkillers were being mainlined for their calorie content and I’d considered chowing down on the table.
The brief excitement spike of the family turning up quickly passed into memory as boredom took a firm hold. I read the obits in the Times and the personals in FHM. Briefly I considered calling the 0898 numbers as “hot girls were waiting for my call” before I remembered this was my work phone. I even scribbled my own obituary spicing up a mediocre life with fantasy achievements and outstanding public works. This I offered up to the rest of the ward who felt “a year spent entertaining goats” was hardly a posthumous validity. Man, I was disappointed – that was the best bit.
Bored, bored, bored. Went to the loo for a change of scene. Washed scabby bits, winced a little, returned to bed waiting for something to happen. Nothing did.
Lights out. Like prison without the food. Demands for an ETA with the wire brush were met with shrugging shoulders and â€˜not my problem guv” expressions. Clearly my histrionics of earlier were counting against me either than or the NHS is really quite shit. Lovely individuals, useless fucking institution.
Ate light bulb.
Ward sister rocks up and explains that in fact the whole operation thing is nothing more than an elaborate fabrication created to break my spirit. Operation now scheduled for tomorrow afternoon as surgeon has important appointment with Aston Martin Salesman in the morning. Plastic sandwich offered which, to make an important point, I considered turning down but hunger took hold of the hindbrain and I ate the lot. Including the packet.
Quite upset. Another day that my knee doesn’t get any better. In 22 days, it was due to be climbing rocky Scottish mountains with the rest of my body and removing a good part of the Chilterns was on the critical path to recovery.
Thought a lot about the best way to approach this. Maybe Nichtze “anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or a stoic mindset ignoring that which is not within my control. Settled for “fuck it, this is a bloody shambles” instead. Felt the burn of righteous white hot anger for a while. Then decided this was probably gas.
Follow this for Day three.