Sunday, February 12, 2012

Only when I laugh (1)

It's not funny. I'm in hospital. Having come to do a routine test on Tuesday I ended up being admitted. The test was at 10.00 a.m. but there was a long wait before the bed was available at midnight. Following a sleep-deprived night before test, and partly because of it, I was exhausted and really looking forward to a good night's sleep. First of all I was fitted with some stick-on extra nipples which made me look like a great Hampshire sow, then I was linked to a heart-monitoring machine like a Friesian milker. After the machine was switched on there was a regular bleep, with its echo, at two-second intervals like the sound of ping-pong games in the early days of personal computers. This would last all night.

On its own this was a novel experience, but the man in the bed opposite, was something else, poor chap. Whatever his problems - and weight was one of them - they were of a very serious nature, which meant he needed regular attention, from dedicated staff who are a credit to the NHS. Just because some people are worse off than yourself doesn't make your own lack of sleep any more bearable; and at least the man opposite was sleeping even if it was not a peaceful sleep. With every breath he emitted an unspeakable noise which was a kind of pained snore, impossible to translate. Sleeping was something the staff, for some reason, did not want for him, or for me I felt, so they kept coming and waking him up. As soon as they had finished with him he was back into his impossible to translate snore pattern. By 4 a.m. I had not had a wink of sleep. Every time I felt I might shut out the ping-pong repetition and nod off something happened to make sure I didn't. A female patient who had been admitted that day was disorientated and screaming at the nurses, and, I learnt later, was hitting the staff with a walking stick. By the time security and staff had sorted things out it was 5 a.m. Some time between then and 6.30 a.m. - when they woke everybody up - I fell asleep.

After a wash I enquired of the man in the bed next to me:

"What time is breakfast?"
"I'm a little mutton Jeff."
"The doctor's not been down yet!"

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