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Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

I'll have a seat at the rear, thanks

I'll have a seat at the rear, thanks

Six months after he boarded the already-defunct Oasis airline’s flight from Gatwick for Hong Kong, Bruce’s overwraught mother has just about got a hold on her separation anxieties. Her daughter’s impending marriage has focused attention enough elsewhere that the frequency with which tears are shed over Bruce and Fran’s Antipodean adventure has dropped to fewer than every 24 hours.

However, as his brief return for said marriage has drawn closer, emotions have been running high again, not so much over Bruce’s visit as the thought of him leaving again…

Furthermore, Fran – normally able to control her waterworks unless her buttons are being pushed by a particularly awful straight-to-DVD / middle-of-the-afternoon-TV-schedule drama about a child with cancer / family going through divorce / cute animals dying – has been suffering post-traumatic disorder since her hospital experience.

Post-op is never an easy time

Post-op is never an easy time

If the smells, noises and sights on the ward weren’t enough, the day her legs started swelling up to a size that would have had Nora Batty and Bella Emberg turning green with envy certainly pushed her over the edge.

Convinced it was a deep vein thrombosis, rather than the fluid pumped into her for her keyhole surgery rushing to her legs thanks to gravity, she spent that night in drug-abetted horror waiting to die and convinced she would never see Bruce again.

It’s not funny – quite the opposite – and, having confronted her own mortality for the first time and come away from the experience a changed person, Fran remains emotionally fragile.

So, as she prepared to say goodbye to Bruce for nine days for the first time in years, the last thing she – or his mother – needed was for a Qantas jumbo jet to fall apart in midair.

As fans of Rainman will know, the airline’s got a good safety record. But when Bruce is a few days away from boarding QF30 from London to Melbourne, the last thing they need is QF30 falling from the sky.

Oh well, at least lightning never strikes twice. Just ask Roy Sullivan.

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Such pretty hands

Such pretty hands

For once it wasn’t trapped wind or a dodgy tummy, despite Fran’s attempt to demolish a Bogan burger* 48 hours earlier. No amount of anti-spasmodics or painkillers was going to take this pain away: her appendix had ruptured, which apparently meant it was leaking poo into her insides.

It may sound unpleasant, but it had its upsides. For one, we got to see the vehemently anti-drugs Fran off her head on a variety of substances

  • Morphine: dopey eyed and with a lazy smile, she entertained hospital staff at the Prince of Wales with unsolicited eulogies on the wonders of cupboards and the bushiness of Bruce’s beard
  • Temazepam: 15 minutes after ingesting her tablet she hit the panic button only for the ward sister to assure her that no, there wasn’t a giant growth coming out of the side of her neck like Richard E Grant in How To Get Ahead In Advertising
  • Codeine: a manic look on her face, Fran paced agitatedly around the room, talking fast and incessantly. Moments later, sat on the sofa, she began rubbing her head in confusion before falling into a contented, fixed grin trance.

It also made us thankful we’d signed up for Medicare, as the treatment, barring the pre-hospital doctor’s visit and post-discharge prescriptions, was free.

On the downside, Fran has developed a phobia of hospitals and we’ve realised private health insurance is a good idea. The nurses were mostly great, the doctors in a hurry but full of reassurances, and the hospital foundation book shelf contained the odd welcome surprise (apparently the Marianne Faithfull Mars Bars incident is a myth). But other than that…

Hmmm... delicious

Hmmm... delicious

Discounting the constant smell of human secretions combined with detergents and medicines, the incessant beeping of drips in need of changing and the stereotypically awful food it’s a destabilising thing to be placed on a busy gastro ward.

In her week inside, Fran shared rooms variously with a leg amputee whose TV was on full volume 24 hours a day, but wasn’t loud enough to drown out her pained pleas for assistance (normally in the form of a bed pan), an irate Czech pensioner, a heavily snoring gay man with blood pouring from his bladder, a dying smoker from Eastern Europe, an alcoholic Scot with a penchant for ripping out his catheter and alternately abusing and charming the nurses, and a smack addict who would be quiet as a lamb during the day only to spend the night shouting the place down: “I need my METHADONE!!!!!

There was lovely Nana, 92 this year, with her gentle stories about her 5pm whisky every day and her twin daughters turning 70 this month, and wizened old Pearl (who prefers the name Peg) with the irreparable wound to her lower leg, but an indomitable spirit and amazing two-tone died hair.

But, the overriding lesson (apart from a ruptured appendix being great for losing weight) was: If you can afford even basic health insurance, do. If you can’t, find a way.

*A Napier Hotel special. See here

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