Hospital existence is quite weird, really. For me it’s a bit like the experience of a long-haul flight. You are trapped inside a confined space with a load of strangers with absolutely nothing to do and without the attraction of an exotic destination. So, like a long-haul flight, but where you go backwards and forwards without being allowed off the plane. I am someone with a very low boredom threshold so, as with a long-haul flight, I need to arm myself with a variety of entertainment, a load of podcasts, some selected to fall asleep to, a couple of books, a full Netflix series plus, at least two films, in case the series proves to be a duffer. I am in the middle of Nightflyers, a sci-fi based on a book by George RR Martin. I am not sure about it, it’s certainly no Game of Thrones.
And then you are back to sharing a room with a bunch of people, which is not, as I approach my 50th, something I particularly enjoy. I had quite enough of dormitory life as a kid and was only too pleased to leave it behind me. It has been a while now that I have only slept with someone that I was, well… sleeping with. In fact the last person I regularly shared a room with was Mum, when she took me off on jaunts when I lived in Spain. We shared to save money so we could afford to stay in the Parador hotels. So it is quite odd to be flung back into a situation where you are suddenly sharing sleeping quarters with a random slice of life.
We have a very noisy African family in the bay next to us. The kid sits on his phone as various aunts visit, each with a bit of advice for him in a variety of languages, that he seems to ignore. The dad has made a rare visit and is currently getting a very severe talking to in French from the mum… I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes… she sounds very severe.
One of the bays has got its curtains drawn, against the regulations, and it sounds like they are having a teen sleepover. I can’t hear what they are saying but it sounds like whispered gossip.
And obviously all the kids are unwell, in one form or another, so there’s lots of crying, coughing and general sounds of unhappiness.
My discomfort at sharing is not just all about me, it is also partly in sympathy for my roommates. I have been told by the aforementioned people who I have slept with that I snore. And from various re-enactments I have heard, apparently I snore very loudly.
I once took a sleeper train from Madrid to the Pyrenees. The train had come from Seville and I boarded in the dead of night and the other people in my compartment were already asleep. So I settled myself down to go to sleep. Then, a few hours later, I was woken up by one of my fellows, who shouted out, in English “Stop bloody snoring!” He was very nice, we had a coffee together at the station when we changed trains and we headed to different parts of France.
Luckily for my new-found, randomly selected roommates, I don’t sleep much
Ironically living in a hospital is supremely unhealthy and also expensive. Unless you manage to plan ahead, you are living out of vending machines.
Woah, she is giving him crap. Something about “…with my girlfriends, in front of me. I don’t need a man like that…” it’s past eleven o’clock, this might be very British of me but I would say that maybe this is not the time or the place to be giving him a roasting however much he deserves it. She’s has just given a loud hand clap to emphasise each time he has done “it”. Time for headphones and Spotify.
Fo and I have done this before. It does feel harder this time without Mum around. She would often spend nights with AJ when she was in for the extended period with leukaemia. And she would always make sure we had a stocked fridge and, more importantly, she had a stock of wine that she was happy to share on those nights that I was back home.
Fo and I see each other fleetingly as we pass car keys to each other and give a quick briefing on how things have gone, then rush on to not miss the half hour of free parking… I got a ticket the other day.
So my day today was to waken to AJ getting her obs done – temperature, pulse etc. (this happens frequently… through the night and day). We then had a cuddle in bed and both slumbered some more. When she did wake up properly she was in good form and we grabbed some pens and paper from one of the play specialists and coloured a parrot. Then Fo came and I went home, had a bacon sandwich and slept for an hour in my own bed. After that I mucked out the hovel to get it ready for the ewes to lamb. It might seem strange but shovelling shit was just what I needed, it was cold and rainy but it just felt healthy to be outside. Then I went to see Otto’s school drama performance. I really wanted to make sure I went as I had missed it last year and it’s important that he feels he is getting our attention at times like these. He is very stoical and has never grumbled once about anything related to Ava-Jane ever but he needs his parents too.
Then I had to plug my car in for a bit to charge it to make sure that it wouldn’t conk out on Fo on the way back. We are down to just my electric car at the moment as Fo’s one that takes AJ’s wheelchair is dying.
The above was written late last night, as you might be able to tell by the disjointed sentences but we are now back home. Yeah!
They have let us out. Many years ago now, I wrote about how the nurses on the children’s cancer ward assessed Fo to see if she was competent enough to administer chemo drugs straight into Ava-Jane’s heart and decided that she was. It was a very fine-tuned process, that required Fo to administer the drugs to the beat of AJ’s heart. So now that all we have to deal with is shoving some nutritive shakes and milks up her nose, apparently even I am qualified!
Ava-Jane has been in hospital since Monday and has had a course of steroids that should bring her seizures under control and early signs look promising. She also had a feeding tube inserted to get liquids into her as she had been losing weight after not eating and drinking a lot. She’s now back home and kitted up.
As Fo’s car is out of action, we had to pack all of AJ’s latest accoutrements into my Nissan Leaf. For a small person, Ava-Jane has always tended to take up quite a lot of space. As someone who who needs multiple large chairs for assorted needs and ramps to accommodate all these chairs, AJ is fortunate to live in quite a big barn.
We have now added lots of big boxes containing tubes, syringes and various concoctions to the household clutter. There is also a big pump to get these concotions straight into her stomach. See pic below for Fo and AJ debating exactly how the whole nasal feeding system works.
People have said that our lives do seem to be particularly bonkers and they might have a point. No sooner have we got home than we are going to have lambing upon us. Dear readers, wish us well. It could all go horribly wrong.
The key thing that we will need to remember is to not confuse lamb colostrum and AJ’s nutri-milk – they look very similar and fulfil a similar role, so maybe it might not be such a bad idea after all.
…I will be leaving it there. Time to get into my own bed, with Fo (quietly, she is asleep), at home. As someone mentioned, one does have too much time to spare in hospital and as proof of this, I leave you these two memes I made as I wandered the corridors aimlessly late at night. Apologies to Facebook people who will have already sen them.