There's always someone more worse off than you...
From the moment I arrived at the hospital, hungry, thirsty and a little bit scared, I wondered what I could do to entertain myself until I was called into theatre (no, not doing a show)
I was under the impression that I would be in and out within the morning. I had visualised a conveyor belt where I'd lie. It would take me and others through the rubber flaps where a teams of surgeons who operate using Keyhole techniques would sort me out, quick as a flash. Before I could say "Bobs my Uncle" I'd be out the other flaps and on my way home.
I really did think I would be back at work the same day. Well, what do I know? Nothing it seems.
Not even enough to bring something to pass the time. I'd left everything at home, not one gadget was about my person.
It said so in the leaflet "Bring Nothing of Value"
I imagined teams of cat burglars stripping the wards of valuables, so I took nowt.
All I had was GMTV on the telly and Victoria Beckham on the front cover of Hello magazine (June 2006) to keep me sain.
Time dawdled on, I visited the League of Friends, a bunch of biddies who make cups of tea for grieving relatives and sell chocolate digestives for 10p.
I'm not allowed to eat before my op, I really fancied a biscuit, and I have 37p in change.
After only 6 hours 47 minutes I am told there is a bed available on F Ward (I imagined Gordon Ramsey would be taking care of me). I got there without realising this would probably be the last time I would run up a flight of stairs for a couple of weeks.
It all went quite quickly after that, I was ushered in to my room by Sam (the only bed available was in this room, the only "private" room on the ward, maybe they'd heard about me and decided to segregate me) . Sam is a chatty Nurse from Kent, who was very busy but promised she would give me a guided tour in a minute, after the medicine run.
I sat down and fell asleep, I woke up sometime later (no watch) with a stiff neck and a furry tongue. I wondered why anyone would leave those lying around.
Then, they came for me, 3.35pm, I wasn't ready. I hadn't put on the special socks on, or the floral gown. I got changed quick, then the doors burst open and a team of orderlies plonked me on the bed and wheeled me down the Theatre. Ah, we chatted about all sorts of rubbish, down the corridors and through double doors, past racks of medical instruments and rubber gloves.
In the prep room I met once more Stephen, my Anaesthetist from Queggs, Blackburn. I greeted him with a jolly hello and he stuck a needle in my hand. I didn't have time to count, I was too busy being funny (I thought I was being funny) as I felt the cold rush of drugs go up my arm. The last thing I remember was the cold reaching my elbow, the next I was waking up in recovery, telling the same joke I went to sleep on. And still getting laughs (or they were laughing AT me, I'm not sure)
I couldn't feel much, but they didn't hang about so I guess I must have come around quite quick.
Or not, how would I know.
I floated through the corridors once more, back down the ward and into my room. A young boy came to see if I needed anything, I asked for a black coffee, one sugar and off he went, and was back immediately with a black coffee, one sugar. Speedy Gonzales has nothing on this cat.
I drink my coffee, I'm sure its probably very hot, but I wouldn't know. I may have had it in my hand for a minute or an hour.
I'm sat in the hospital bed feeling abit sorry for myself after having my hernia operation.
I tried to find something to do, I wanted a book, all I could find were tatty old paperbacks that had been read to death.
Non I wanted to read. All a little sad, and torn, grubby and covered in chocolate digestive crumbs.
So I lay in bed. I had no money for the TV/Radio/Internet jobbie, I just lay there. Hunched up in my electric folding bed.
My bit's are sore, tender and bruised and my bum is getting numb. It really hurts when I cough or sneeze, so I try to do neither.
The nurse Suzanne asked my how I felt, I said like someone had kicked me in the nuts. Quite seriously Suzanne assured me they wouldn't have done that.
There's a girl in the bed outside my little room, who's not very well at all. I can see her through the open door, it looks like her hair is falling out, she makes whimpering noises and sobs occasionally. I have no idea what's wrong with her, and to be honest, I didn't like to ask, she's very pale and sickly looking. I have a habit of saying the wrong things, so I don't.
A squeaking noise like worn rubber on a polished floor catches my ear. I can't quite see what's making the sound, but I guess someone is about to pass my door.
A Jamaican chap is being push along in a wheelchair down the ward, laughing, smiling and joking in his sing song patois with the other patients (who are mostly middle aged to elderly ladies), tucked up in their hospital beds. The effect is like a ray of sunshine as he leaves each person he meets with a smile or a grin etched on their face.
Including the girl.
He's about 65 years old, greying dreadlocks, eyes that shine like newly minted shillings and a leg that stands by itself.
It's twin was amputated just the other day, he seems not to care about such a trivial matter, he says something to me that makes me laugh too.
I'm not sure what he said, but even though it hurt when I laughed, I knew my pain would not stay forever.
Unlike his leg, that would never come back.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I made an effort to get out of bed and I come home to get on with work.
After a day and night in a place where sick people laugh and nurses are run ragged, doctors work long hours and surgeons perform miracles. I wanted to thank them for all they have done, not just for me, but for all who pass their way, without passing away.
And thank god I didn't have to stay there longer than I did. The Nurses, Orderlies, Doctors, Cleaners everyone do a wonderful job, but I was glad to get out. My lovely Jane came to my rescue, but some folk wont be leaving, at least not yet.
Me, I was just a day case, but some poors sods are stuck in there. Because they need to be there, they need fixing, mending, making better.
You can help them get better. You know those books you have lying around, the ones you've read and arn't sure what to do with them, the magazines and board games, packs of cards and suchlike. Give them to your nearest hospital.
Just remember to clean your hands before going in.
It might be you in there one day who needs something to read, and a biscuit.