A thrifted 'pinny' awaiting its fate
Sorry for the absence for a few days - I had an unplanned admission to hospital last week and I'm only just home and catching up.
There's lots of stories to tell about the last few days in hospital, and there are some strong images that stick in my mind, snatches of conversations and insights into human nature that I'm not often exposed to.
In front of me in the queue to register at the Accident & Emergency department was a man holding his thumb on with a blood-soaked cloth. He had been using a wood chisel, when it slipped. "Why were you using a chisel?" the receptionist asked. "I'm an artist". "Well, you don't look like an artist." "Sorry, I didn't have time to brush my hair."
The ward I was put in when first admitted was full of elderly confused men and women, loudly demanding their walking sticks, bedpans, something to eat, wanting to be helped to sit up, then lie down again, then sit up once more. Never a thought of please or thank you to the tirelessly accommodating nursing staff. "We've had the campanology club in" said one long-suffering nurse, "They've been ringing their bells all night!" On one side of me, an old lady sat swaddled in enveloping robes, picking her nose and calling on Allah every now and again. On the other, Frank kept falling out of bed.
Fortunately, before bedtime, I was moved to a quieter side bay with some ladies nearer my own age. A chuckling Selma pushed my bed and me out into the corridor, "C'mon, Mamma G., we goin' cruisin' ".
There's something about the enforced intimacy of a hospital ward that opens the way for camaraderie. Something about those open-backed short gowns emblazoned with 'Property of ****** General Hospital' and the loud discussions with medical staff about bowel movements and other personal matters that breaks down the normal social barriers. How on earth does anyone think that drawing the curtains round your bed prevents anyone else from overhearing what's said?! So we quickly became a mutually-supportive little group, sharing laughs and passing round our magazines and chocolate biscuits. Our one gentleman (89 years old) told us two cracking jokes which I've added to my repertoire.
Of course, the biggest joke of all is hospital food. I suppose it was my own fault that I expected there would be actual chicken in my 'chicken salad sandwich', or, indeed, salad. But what a great excuse to regress to childhood and have jelly and ice-cream or tinned pears!
We were all hoping to be discharged on the same day, but I was the first allowed to go home. As we hugged goodbye, my bed-neighbour sent me on my way with a cheery, "Well, you look 10 years younger with your clothes on!"