Things have been quiet here on the blog lately because I’ve been in Sydney, dealing with more medical dramas. I headed down to Sydney on the 9th for surgery on the 11th, hoping I’d only be in hospital a night or two, but planning to stay in Sydney for a week or so afterwards, close to major hospitals and specialists. Unfortunately, the surgery (attempting to insert a stent inside the existing stents in my cerebral aneurysm) did not go well, and despite the best efforts of my wonderful doctors, I ended up with multiple complications – a small brain hemorrhage, some damage to the retina in my right eye, an abdominal bleed, and a tear in my femoral artery which gave me a large bruise/haematoma on almost my entire upper right leg. So, as a result, I was eight days in hospital, and had to have further surgery to repair the femoral artery, and it’s taken me a while to get back to something approaching normal health. So I do apologise for any unanswered emails, comments etc lately – I’m slowly catching up, now I’m out and about.
A week of bed-rest does give one plenty of time to observe the surreal nature of hospital life. In addition to being a patient in one several times, my first full-time job was in the personnel office of a city hospital, so I have multiple perspectives on the world. One of my favourite authors for a good fun read is Terry Pratchett, and I love his DiscWorld series and the way in which he uses the narrow edge between reality and absurdity to highlight the strengths, depths and frailities of humanity (and dwarves, trolls, witches, and Death….)
So, for those of you who have both read Pratchett and experienced a long hospital stay, it will probably come as no surprise that I idled away some of the long, long hours wondering how Mr Pratchett might write a book about hospitals. There are plenty of absurdities and strange customs in hospitworld and I’m sure he’d have great fun with it. If you’ve not read Pratchett, most of the rest of this post will not make any sense 🙂
Hospital time is a law unto itself. An event scheduled for 10am is almost guaranteed NOT to occur at any time with a ’10’ in it, and there is probably some strange mathematical formula involving parabolic equations and corkscrew time movements with a relationship of inverse proportions to the length of time for which the patient has had to fast! (And a note of warning here – do not read certain Nora Roberts novels while fasting prior to an operation, because her descriptions of food are too damn good.)
Speaking of food, it’s all catered for en masse these days, to keep costs down. And it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the taste of hospital scrambled eggs manages, by some distortion of the senses, to remain on the palate for at least 72 hours. (The pannacotta, however, was quite enjoyable – although that may have been a relative enjoyment, rather than a perfect one.)
There are certain elements of hospital administration, many reflected in hospital forms that require completion by the patient, that make it entirely easy to suspect that one (or more) hospital administrators may in fact be orangutans. And of course, there has to be a controlling force behind the whole system to keep it running, and given that every piece of hospital linen (towels, sheets etc) has either printed or woven into the fabric the stern pronouncement that it is the property of Central Sydney Health Service, in large unfriendly letters, I did not find it had to imagine a Patrician-like character overseeing the supply and distribution chain, and terrifying all involved with dire threats if a single sheet or towel is not properly accounted for.
But on the plus side, of course, there’s the magic – the medical kind – and the variety of lively personalities of the
wizards doctors and nurses who practice it. I was very well cared for, by some wonderful and interesting people. One of my doctors – unbeknown to him – also helped me to envision the hero I’m currently writing a little more clearly, as he had a similar focus, dedication, courtesy and gentleness that I’d given my hero, as well as being very good-looking. A couple of the young female doctors also gave me some more insight into my heroine, who just happens to be a doctor 🙂 So, there were some positives about the experience.
I’ve been back home for a few days now, and it was lovely to come back to the peace and serenity of the bush after the weeks in the city. I have to take things a bit easy for a while, but my strength is gradually rebuilding, and I’m now doing most of my normal activities – just a little more slowly than usual, with frequent rest breaks!
I’ll be heading back to Sydney in a couple of weeks for some specialists’ appointments, and then going on down to Canberra for an early Christmas celebration with my family, then back home again to have Summer Solstice and Christmas with Gordon. And throughout it all I’ll be working on book 3, as I’m currently still hoping to meet my January deadline. My characters, Mark and Kate, are having a challenging time – although I did write the hospital scenes before my recent experiences!