Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hospital Havoc


This time last week my mother was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.  She required an operation, and was advised about the risks and complications.  However, if she hadn’t had the operation she would have eventually died, so she signed the consent form and we all kept our fingers crossed for her.
          ­­­Thankfully Mother Bryant survived the op and, physically, she is now on the road to recovery.  However, we are still awaiting the return of her mental faculties which – thanks to anaesthetic and morphine – have blurred the lines between reality and dreams.  It has also left her very paranoid.
          ‘Ssh,’ she said when I greeted her yesterday.  ‘The nurses don’t like me.  In fact, they don’t like any of us.  They know absolutely everything about my family.  There must be a hidden microphone somewhere.  I don’t want them hearing me repeat this to you.  Come closer.’  I leant in.  ‘They’re all in cahoots with each other.’  She stabbed a finger into my chest.  ‘And they think you’re a trouble-maker.  And at night, there is bedlam on this ward.  The nurses do terrible things.’  My mother leant back and gave me a conspiratorial look.  ‘You ask Iris.  She’ll tell you.’
          ‘Iris?’
          My mother jerked her head.  ‘In the next bed.  She knows what’s been going on.  She and I talk, you know.’
          I looked at the little old lady next door.  She was staring vacantly at the ceiling, mouth hanging open.  Dear Lord, had my mother had this effect on her?
          The thing is, I’ve been listening to this sort of nonsense throughout the entirety of the week.  Some of the things my mother has come out with would have been quite funny if we weren’t so worried.  To say she is confused is an understatement.  It is also quite astonishing how the energy of somebody’s confusion can rub off on you.  Let me give you an example.
          On Thursday I was accompanied to the hospital by my father and sister.  By the time visiting came to an end, all three of us had monumental headaches.
          ‘I don’t know about you girls,’ said Father Bryant as we stood in the hospital corridor, ‘but I need a cup of coffee and some Paracetamol.  Fancy joining me?’
          ‘Good idea,’ Janice and I chorused.
          We made our way to the hospital’s on-site Costa and joined the queue.  When our turn came, the young lady behind the counter asked us what we would like.
          Father Bryant: ‘I’ll have a black coffee.’
          Me:  ‘Tea, please.’
          Janice:  ‘Hot chocolate for me.’
          Me: ‘Ooh, that sounds nice.  Cancel the tea, I’ll have hot chocolate too.’
          Father Bryant: ‘Actually, something milky sounds appealing. Change mine to a latte, please.’
          Janice: ‘Can I have soya rather than milk?’
          Me:    ‘Yes, make mine with soya too, please.’
          Costa Lady: ‘So that’s two hot chocolates and a latte, all to be made with soya?’
          Father Bryant: ‘Milk.’
          Costa Lady: ‘Sorry, two hot chocolates and a latte, all to be made with milk.’
          Janice: ‘No, two with soya.’
          Father Bryant: ‘I’ll have milk, please.’
          Costa Lady: ‘So that’s two hot chocolates with soya, and you, Sir, are now having a hot milk?’
          Father Bryant: ‘No, coffee.’
          Costa Lady: ‘American?’
          Father Bryant: ‘No, I’m English.’
          Janice: ‘She means filter coffee, Dad.’
          Father Bryant: ‘Oh, I see.  Sorry, dear (turning back to Costa Lady), I’d rather have a latte.’
          Costa Lady, looking confused: ‘So that’s…one latte with soya and two hot chocolates with milk?’
          Me: ‘No. One latte with milk, two hot chocolates with soya.’
          Costa Lady: ‘Okay, I think I’ve got it!  What size?’
          Father Bryant: ‘I’ll have a medium.’
          Janice: ‘I’ll have a small.’
          Me: ‘Medium, please.’
          Janice: ‘Actually, stuff the diet, I’ll have a medium too.’
          Me: ‘Oh, that’s a point, I’m meant to be weight watching.  Make mine a small.’
          Father Bryant: ‘Exactly how big is a medium?’
          Costa Lady, waggling a paper cup about: ‘This big.’
          Father Bryant: ‘In that case, I think I’ll have a small.’
          Costa Lady: ‘To have here or take away?’
          Me/Janice/Father Bryant all at the same time: ‘Here/take away/um…?’
          Costa Lady, looking somewhat frazzled: ‘Go to the till and pay, please.’
          Lady on till: ‘I’ve tried to follow the thread of the conversation and I haven’t a clue specifically what you’re all having or where you’re having it.  So I’ll tell you what, just have it on us.’
          Father Bryant: ‘Well, that’s awfully generous of you.  Are you sure?’
          Janice: ‘Have we muddled you?’
          Lady on till: ‘Um, I think we’re all a little confused.  It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what the boy on drinks produces.’
          We turned, expectantly, to a young lad who at that moment was setting a tray down on the counter with our drinks.  It contained one vast hot chocolate in a soup bowl, one tiny hot chocolate in a glass, and one medium sized latte in a paper cup.  All made with soya.  But by that point we didn’t care.  We just wanted something to take our Paracetamol with.  I noticed the staff looking longingly at my little box of pills.
          ‘Would you all like a Paracetamol?’ I asked.
          It’s probably the closest I’ve ever got to drug dealing.
          Which reminds me.  Did you hear about the duck with a drug problem?  He was a quack-head…

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