Celtic Illumination, part 407, Gwahoddiad.
Saturday morning was thundering towards us and all I wanted to do was go home. They hadn’t found out what was wrong with me and tests were still happening, as and when, but I just wanted to get home, well; one side of my brain did, and for those of you who have read this complete blog, you will know that an Irishman does not have two sides to his brain, like a regular person, an Irishman has four sides. It’s why we lead the universe. Normal people have only two sides to their brain, the left side, which controls logic, language and analytical thinking. Then there’s the other side, the right side, depending which way you are facing of course, which is best at expressive and creative tasks. But then we have the Irish with the two extra sides. The frontal lobe, braininess frontiness, which is used for impaired sensory navigation otherwise known as, ‘Walking whilst drunk,’ or as many people refer to it, incorrectly, as staggering. And then we have the rear section of the brain, the back side, which we use for talking through whilst drunk.
As an Irishman it would be normal to be told that you could, ‘Talk the hind leg of a donkey,’ and why someone would wish to disfigure some poor wee animal is beyond me and no, let’s not get into the bullfighting again. But if the drink has been taken then it would be more common, as an Irishman, to be told that you were talking from the rear of your brain, or as it is more locally referred to as , ‘Talking out your backside.’ So I knew that there was a battle going on in my head with one side wanting to go home, another side wanting to stay and get fixed and the other two sides just wanting a drink. While all this was going on, in my head, some fellow appeared beside my bed. Don’t worry we are not talking divine revelation here, he introduced himself and we shook hands. He explained that he was the chap who was about to shove a tube, with a camera, down my throat.
It was nice, for once, to have a young man offer to shove something down my throat and for it not to be accompanied by a threat. He explained that there were two people before me and that I would probably be taken down within the hour. Now I know many of you would expect me now to connect the term, ’Taken down,’ with British courts and justice and prison and then make the leap to acknowledge that Gerry Conlon died a day or two ago. Gerry was one of the Guilford Four who was imprisoned for being Irish for fifteen years and during that time watched his innocent father die beside him in jail. As there is no connection between British courts and justice, especially for an Irish person, then there is no point in referring to it, but at the same time the man’s passing must be acknowledged. And talking about passing I suppose I was impressed that someone from a busy department would come down on to a ward and introduce himself and run through the basics of what was going to happen. It was a first class service, as all of the care was in the hospital.
It was a little disappointing when he turned up half an hour later apologising that he wasn’t aware I hadn’t been fasting for long enough and therefore would not be taken down to his department until much later in the afternoon. Still a great service and even though they waited until my afternoon visitors had gathered around my bed, before coming to get me, I would still have no complaints. I only wish I had a camera handy to take a photograph of Irene and the others sitting around an empty bed space. As an Irishman with four sides to my brain, and therefore much more brain power than the ordinary person, I had all four sides of my brain concentrate on the fact that my duty was to get better, so this camera down the throat business was a part of that. I didn’t fear it in anyway whatsoever, in fact I welcomed it. I liked the way I was able to remain on my bed; all I had to do was get on to my side.
There was a lot of gagging, but I promise you no pain and no real discomfort either. I was worried in case I threw up, as there were females in the room, but otherwise quite a straightforward procedure and it seemed to be over in a flash. They had sprayed my throat with all sorts of stuff and it wasn’t until I was back on the ward that I gathered myself together and wondered what on earth had just happened and begin to wonder why my throat was numb. Not everything went to plan, for example one morning a nurse explained to me that I was to be given three pints of blood that day. I knew that they wouldn’t conduct a transfusion on me during the night hours as they kept going on about the chance of me having a bad reaction to the transfusion. It was a little disconcerting when they linked the bag of blood up to your vein and stood back as if the proverbial fuse had been lit. But I wasn’t to worry, that’s what they told me.
And why wasn’t I to worry? Well, if I was to have an adverse reaction to the new blood I was being given it would happen within the first fifteen minutes. Great I thought, clock watching, along with the nurses. But what flavour reaction would it be, would I levitate, have an epileptic fit or just find myself disco dancing for half an hour while throwing up green bile by the bucket load? No one ever explained to me what form the bad reaction might take. So you realise that the common denominator for the day will be blood transfusion, but then things start to go wrong. More bloody rules for transfusion, this time the time limits for matching my blood with the stuff they wanted to give me was running out. In order to establish that the match was fine and that the transfusion could go ahead I needed more blood taken and tested. Three nurses later and we are now waiting for a doctor.
The doctor didn’t turn up for four hours so the clock can start all over again but you understand that you are not going to get your three units of blood this day and therefore will have to stay in hospital that little bit longer. I suppose a normal person might get angry but I understood that there were people in the hospital who were of much greater need than myself and had no qualms about understanding that when it was my turn they would get to me. The poor medics were working their socks off and deserved some leeway. I still felt that the doctor who made my right arm swell up so that I looked like a comic book version of Popeye the Sailor man, was a little off centre, but as he wasn’t Irish he didn’t have the option of being perfect.
The only other Celtic patient was of the course the Welsh preacher man opposite me. As a ninety five year old man I felt sorry for him, it must not have been nice for him to have been in hospital and to tell you the truth he did look a bit lost. However he did make me laugh. Very cruel of me I know but the television screen that draped over each of our beds, like Triffids, also had a telephone. Each time a telephone would ring, out by the nurses station, the Welsh preacher man would leapt out of bed, well; leap out of bed as best as a ninety five year old gentleman can, race around to the far side of the bed, which for me was funny in itself as all he had to do was remain where he was and reach up to the telephone. But of course he would now be stood standing by the side of his bed yelling into the telephone hand set “Hello? Hello? Hello?” And of course with him now on his feet he could have done the decent thing and given us a song, a good old Welsh Hymn, or his version of a Welsh male voice choir with a jaunty version of Cwm Rhondda, which for the Heathens among you has nothing whatsoever to do with the Beach Boys.
I do like a Welsh Male voice choir but only at a distance, fifty yards would be best, so I had no wish for his congregation to turn up and serenade him at his bedside. A Welsh male voice choir came to visit us once in Germany. Being serenaded in a rugby club, in Germany, by a Welsh male voice choir is an experience in itself, but it didn’t quite fit right. With a sound like that, you need space for the voices to grow and expand. I however wanted to speak with the minister; I wanted to begin to question his beliefs, which normally I wouldn’t do, but I was angry with this Pentecostal lot now. Live and let live is my motto; well; as long as you are not a rabbit. Something Irene hates me for I must be the only person in the United Kingdom who invites Mormon missionaries into their home. She would often come home and find me with two smartly dressed American young men in the room at the front of our house with the big leather seaty things. I would invite them in, sit them down, furnish them with tea and biscuits and then begin to question the very core of their belief system. In fact, if you ever have some Mormon missionaries knock at your door ask to have a look at their guide book. Look at the third page, at their, “Rules for survival in the field.” Number seven. Beware the Irishman, for he doth talk out his backside.