Celtic Illumination, part 403, Someday my prints will come.
It should come as no great surprise to many of you when I admit that I have slept in some weird and wonderful places, from snow holes to ditches and back again. One I remember was a purpose built room where the bunk beds accommodated six people at a time. We had come in, as you do, a little bit exhausted and dined on babies heads followed by a decent cup of coffee with possessed cheese on rolled oat biscuits. We were then instructed to line up by the door that led into the bed room and wait for a bed to become empty. The moment you were next in line and saw someone pull themselves off a bed you made your way to it, rolled on to it and slept. There was no messing about. We were still in full combat gear and would even have cuddled ourselves around the rifle, or machine gun, we carried. In such a macho, methane flavoured, environment I had one of the best sleeps ever.
I can now assure you that one of the most uncomfortable night’s sleep I have ever endured would have been my first night in an NHS hospital next door to the duty drunk Scouser. A slushy, dripping, snow hole would come a close second but at least I didn’t have someone waking me up every thirty minutes taking my blood pressure, sticking something in my ear and putting a plastic clothes peg type thingy on the end of my finger. Gary proved that not only was he a decent fellow but that he wasn’t a liar as he arrived in the middle of the night to take me off for an x ray. The only good thing about this was that I was encouraged to remain on the bed which he expertly wheeled along the dimly lit corridors. It was obvious that the technician at the x ray department had been roused from her sleep as she yawned and scratched her way around me. For some reason I was asked to stay on my bed and was x rayed there.
Gary brought me back to my ward where our friend The Scouser was hanging over the side of his bed throwing up. Of course he wanted to tell everyone in the hospital that he had thrown up and was yelling at the top of his voice, between wretches, “Nerse!! Nerse!!” Gary expertly navigated my bed away from the spreading pool of vomit and parked me up an extra two or three feet away from The Scouser, who I think had begun to wonder not just where he was but who he was. Then there was the pain from the stab wounds which allowed him to roll back on to his bed and begin to whine for someone to attend to him as he was a very sick boy indeed. He plugged his ears back up again with the television headphones and stuck his face in front of the television screen, it really was Orwellian. I knew that I was exhausted as the constant waking up, with people sticking needles in me, or taking my blood pressure, and the noise from the others area was just too much.
It was as dawn was poking through the windows, and I don’t mean that blond girl from Hazelhurst, when Gary arrived again to inform me that I was to be taken to another ward. In a way I was quite interested to experience the working of an NHS hospital as it was so often talked about in the news. You had the likes of the Commonwealth Fund, a very highly respected organisation, which produces analytical reports on the performance of different countries’ health systems, declaring that the NHS is the world’s best healthcare system. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/17/nhs-health?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2 And then you have the Tories selling it off piece by piece, lining their mates pockets and robbing the British tax payer blind, as normal. But let’s not talk about politicians as that would start a rant you would probably never hear the end of.
Once again it was a six bedded ward and I was slotted in to a central position. It was bright and busy and more people were surrounding me and sticking things in me. I wasn’t sure if I should have accepted the breakfast I was offered as I couldn’t guarantee that it would stay down, so I declined the cereal and orange juice and opted for the safe option of toast and tea. They even gave me some little pots of marmalade. Someone was selling newspapers from a trolley while another person was offering every patient towels and soap, with toothbrushes and toothpaste. It was like market day in Norwich, except there was no sheep. A nurse came in and wrapped the curtain around my bed, not in a parcel type of way; she enclosed the area so that I could have a bit of privacy. She then went off and returned with a large bowl of hot water. I assured her that I could perform my own ablutions and would not require her bed bath. She left me alone so I stripped off and began to scrub myself from top to bottom.
It was as I was at the bottom part, and I don’t mean my feet, when a young nurse came in and I am sure, from the way I was contorted on the bed, was probably put off her lunch. I hurried up with my ablutions as they tended to enter through the curtains like they were pantomime capes, swinging them wide open so that the bored patients dotted around the ward could have something different to gawp at. Eventually I found myself clean, dry and dressed in fresh pyjamas sitting on the edge of my bed, enjoying the anonymity the closed curtain gave me when it hit me. Nothing physical, it wasn’t a flying bedpan or the like, but the sensation that I needed the toilet. Now for normal people this is usually no great problem, you experience the sensation that suggests you should consider making your way to the nearest toilet, you go to the toilet and perform whichever function you need to. With me I knew that from the moment I got the sensation, to needing to be firmly positioned on a toilet bowl, was three seconds.
I launched myself off the bed and flew through the curtains. I didn’t know where the toilet was, so wasn’t sure if I could make it and was so pleased to find that as I moved along my toast and marmalade were coming back up. “Toilet?” I asked a passing nurse who looked at me and she pointed to a door which I made a beeline for. More came out of my mouth than my bottom. In fact it would be safe to say it was all a case of nothing more than hot air, but we all know, many from experience, that you can never trust a fart, especially in company. Normally I would have been mortified in case anyone passing outside had heard the rumblings but I was in no real state to care. I cleaned myself up, had a wee rest and then made the return trip to my bed. The other patients were being moved about like pieces on a draught board. The commotion on the ward seemed to phase itself out and it became calm and quiet. I could feel myself begin to drift off to sleep when none other than The Scouser was wheeled in to the bed space next to mine.
My fears that I was to be hounded by this fellow, for my remaining time in the hospital, didn’t last long as a male nurse arrived to take me, my bed, and my possessions to a new ward. There were only three fellows in this new ward, all of whom were sleeping so I decided to join them and allowed myself to drift off. Despite being in a new ward and drifting in and out of sleep I could still hear The Scouser complaining away about the fact that the television had eaten his five pounds when he hadn’t even watched the thing. It did cause me to smile but at least I was in a relatively quiet corner of the unit. Next I was woken by a gaggle of doctors who wrapped the curtain around our little gathering and began to fire questions at me. Had I noticed six pints of blood pouring out of my body? Not only do I think I would have noticed such an event but I may have made a note of it and I am sure Irene would have told me off if I got any of it on the furniture.
It was decided that I should be tested; this unfortunately had nothing to do with MENSA but was more along the lines of a gastroscopy, an ultrasound examination and a flexi sigmoidoiscopy. Flexi Sigmoidoiscopy is not something I had come across before so I had to ask. One of the doctors translated it for me and said, “Colonoscopy,” a term which I didn’t need any further translation of. I was still slightly uncomfortable with the notion but knew it was the right thing to do. The curtains were swept back and the doctors moved on to the fellow in the next bed. I couldn’t be bothered listening in to what was wrong with the fellow next door as I was more concerned with my upcoming photo session. It was nearly three o clock in the afternoon, I had almost been in the hospital twenty four hours, visiting time was almost upon us so I did the only thing any decent patient would do and went to sleep.
Having just spent the morning on a hospital visit, I can’t say I enjoyed this. At least the scene I was in was less bizarre.