Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-07-08 Entry: "Catching Up 2 - Hospital"

So I'd had surgery, they'd let me get some sleep, and now I was being asked if I preferred a shower or sponge bath... Deciding I didn't fell all that bad, I went for the shower... which surprisingly I'm allowed to have, and getting the dressing wet doesn't seem to matter to them...

So I hobble out of bed, pole (with saline drip hanging from) in one hand, and stagger to the shower. Okay, that's uncomfortable. I manage okay (even with the extra plastic thing stuck in a vein in my hand) but manage to get the dressing wet. At least I'm out of that stupid gown. And then back to bed - where I realize that actually, having a shower was a really stupid thing to try to do and I'm now tired and uncomfortable.

It then takes them three hours to get back to me to change the dressing to a new dry one...

I'm also allowed to eat, and I'm stuck with the menu from whoever was in the bed before me - so I struggle through a couple of mouthfuls of sawdust (sorry, muesli) for breakfast. Then it's pretty much lots of reading until visiting hours. Fortunately I came prepared and expected the books to last me until I got out (Terry Pratchett's Science Of Discworld 2, and Neil Gaiman's American Gods).

No real pain was felt at any point - yes I was uncomfortable, but it wasn't really painful (except for the time I tried to put my hand in my pocket, having forgotten the plastic thing was still in the back of it - OW!). Step-mother visited every day, and father visited Saturday.

So surgery Thursday evening, and I finally get out Sunday night (with much celebration) - basically everyone was waiting for my bowels to get into gear and then they'd let me go. After stressing to man and beast that they were usually fairly slow (like 5 days slow), the surgeon decided Sunday morning after looking at me, that I'd be okay to go home. However, when I mentioned this to the nurses midday Sunday, they found the notes (which they hadn't been told about) and phoned the guy on duty who said "Nope - wait for a bowel movement." So stuck there I was.

Fortunately, every bed had a TV, so I was able to watch mindless television for hours on end (when I wasn't reading or trying vainly to do the Saturday crossword). The food was vaguely reasonable, so it wasn't as if I was starving (although their definition of "thick" in relation to soup definitely isn't the same as mine), and the parentals were plying me with fruit when they came.

The only quibble I had was that days seemed to end at 8pm - which I guess made sense when they started at 7am... usually with someone insistent on taking your bloodpressure or dispensing medication. They were just shutting down for the evening Sunday when my bowels finally got their act together and I was free. Well, almost free, as it took another hour for the nurses to write everything up and for my father and brother to arrive to take me home.

I can't say it was a totally horrible experience, but I was getting rather bored towards the end (even if it did give me an excuse to watch the World Cup). I pity the soldiers who were in there - they'd picked up some parasitic infection while training out in Belize (or some other tropical country starting with B). And every day they had to be injected with some highly toxic substance in an attempt to kill the thing. Unfortunately, this required them to be monitored (as it was a four week course, extended by another six weeks if further symptoms showed), so they were stuck in the hospital and its environs. It only took me three days to be thoroughly bored - I dread to think how they were coping!

As an aside, I found out that 10 percent of those out there had come down with the thing - 15 out of 150. The worrying thing was that next year they're sending 700. I've no idea what they'll do with them all if the same sort of percentage get it!

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