I love Hospitals. I cannot understand why some tremble at the mere thought of being admitted and being at the mercy of the Medical Profession.
To me, being comfortably eccentric, the Hospital is one of the last great challenges left in a world that has become uncomfortably secure and controlled. The moment I enter the hallowed halls of medical inventiveness and smell the antiseptic which pervades all these establishments I quiver with unusual excitement.
Some men climb Mount Everest to test themselves, others fly to the Moon. Ho hum, I merely have to suffer some injury to avail myself of what I believe to be one of the last truly great adventures left to man. Survival in a private or public hospital.
Yes, at this point no doubt you question my attitude though I have in my time become somewhat of a Hillary of the operating theatre. My injuries over the years provided me with the opportunity to experience life to the fullest. The adrenals flow when I contemplate the opportunities offered in a comfortable bed surrounded by mere mortals who seem not to appreciate the opportunity for adventure of which they also could avail themselves.
I need not spend a fortune on expensive and sophisticated equipment and guides, much less the burden of organizing a rescue mission from some far distant place known to most simply on a map.
No , all this is just as far away as a colourfully noisy trip in an ambulance making its way through traffic during peak hour ; an exercise which hardly compares with the calm adjusting of equipment before leaping from a beloved old military DC3 .
I take my initial leap lying down; once again ready to brave the unknown of the Hippocratic world. It seems singularly appropriate that a Greek name is used to describe such unfamiliar environs. One need not die here to explore that unknown, similar to Hades or whatever other Greek word describes the underworld.
Hospitals are all about us. We can find them private or public. The explorer’s purse will determine the destination if not the likely outcome.
To me, Private Hospitals are the most exciting. To the unwary they may provide the least care for the greatest expense, to me they present the greatest challenge. To survive a private hospital must surely rank the individual among the champions of human combat. I mean , just at the critical moment when some surgeon has lost a gauze pack down your airways and he discovers that he can neither find not has access to the right equipment to deal with little problem of the over inflating and un-responsive patient .. It’s moments like these when your life is in the balance. No Guides to lend you a kind hand when you face that abyss, oh no, you are very much alone.
In a public hospital they hunt around until some- where in some distant storage cupboard they find what they need and once again you find yourself sucking air, where as in the private hospital the surgeon might call it a day at any moment and decide to play golf at the same time giving you the opportunity to meet your maker. I bet Livingstone never timed his escape from savages better. The only problem is of course the fact that current medical best practice does not allow you to savour the moment. More often than not they have you filled with a syringe full of the ‘nightie night ‘stuff and you are off with the fairies missing your greatest adventure.
Now I’ll deal with something that I can remember – the joy of the recovery room. Seriously , there you are having missed all the fun whilst the staff had a good gander at your goose or whatever it is they check and you find yourself wearing a badly cut multi sex gown that has obviously survived more washing than my feet . Or possibly the latest in throw away designs multi gender nightwear with tubes down your throat and a plastic mask on your face.
Now the first thing one does, one gets up to have a look at all the fun and out of the corner of your eye you see some white gowned person looking seriously annoyed over a much loved and fondled newspaper. Of course you feel that you have been hit by a truck and at this stage you understand that if all the present discomfort and pain is an indication, then the surgeon and his happy team have certainly earned their fee. You try to move a very normal instinct and find that this is not only nearly impossible but some kindly soul shoves the plastic mask right back in your face. Those with little recovery room experience should realize at this stage that it is not always a good idea to disturb recovery room staff from their reading.
You see, you are only no.36 on today’s list and that which may have been a unique and disturbing experience for you is common place here. Eventually you are removed hence to another place often called ‘The Ward ‘… taken to a bed in a room full of other beds preferably full of other patients who are neither in your own age group , insist on speaking in tongues and apparently are having no fun at all .
Well, my fellow sojourner; you have now arrived at the greatest challenge, physical and mental. Prior to surgery you could still pull out and contemplate your navel in the comfort of your own bed. This has come to an end. Of course the first few hours will seem a little confused and waking in a room that is painted in colours that one would not decorate a toilet in ( unless you suffer from chronic constipation ) . There is no point in even trying to recall the first few hours because you are still in a drug induced state of semi awareness trying to remember the number plate of the buss that hit you or trying to remember what that lunatic looked like . Then a day or so later, dependent on the size of the bus, arrives another challenge. You find yourself an inpatient no. 123456 under Dr. Smith and you , who until recently were a free man with certain rights now discover that those rights have vanished much like the contents of bed pans .. Though here I digress for my own amusement.
Some kindly soul, usually a young nurse, will ask you how you feel and gently give you to understand that your wish is her command. (You should be so lucky, she’s read your file and knows the name of your wife and that you have children – so be careful what you wish for).
She asks in a kind voice how you feel and you tell her the truth. She acts dejected, sulks and spends the rest of her shift avoiding you. The one thing you must learn is to insist that you are feeling oh so much better, even if the undertaker is there measuring you up. End of part one to be continued