Saturday, 18 February 2012

A night in hospital

For those of you who’ve been keeping us with my blog you’ll be aware that I recently injured my foot in a freak accident with a jar of mayonnaise.  Well that was six weeks ago, and I’m still the proud owner of an open wound on the top of my foot, which not only looks revolting but hurts like a ‘baaaarstad’ (I said that in a comedy ‘posh’ accent!)  I’m technically swearing, but if my parents read this I can laugh it off and say, hohoho, no I wasn’t swearing as such, I was being silly.  The fact that I’m 37 and am frightened to swear in front of my parents is possibly more alarming than the giant weeping hole in my foot. It just wouldn’t go down at all well with them (Mother: There’s just no need for that kind of language/Father:  You weren’t brought up like that, you never heard it at home) which is why the most offensive curse word you will read in my blog is ‘bugger’ (you don’t want to know the words I’m really thinking)

So back to the giant weeping hole (chasm? crater? abyss? Too dramatic? Good Day to you Doctor, could you possibly take a look at my massive gulf? Dear god no!)  I took it to the GP the day before yesterday, who decided after 6 weeks to send me for an x-ray.  The x-ray people (they sound like a tribe of superheroes) ‘didn’t like the look of it’, so they sent me to another room for another x-ray. The people in this room didn’t like the look of this one either, so they sent me to A&E, who told me that they ‘really’ didn’t like the look of it (at this point I was starting to feel like a rundown boiler – I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if the doctor shook his head, did an inward whistle and told me it was going to cost me) Anyway it turns out, they thought there was still glass in the wound so I’d need to see the consultant the following morning.

The following morning came around and saw me, sat with Phil (deserves a medal for putting up with six weeks of  extreme whinging  ‘It’s just not healing/it hurts so much’ With the extended disco version ‘I can’t c..c..c.cccan’t get my boots on’) and the strict consultant who I was arguing with.  He wasn’t  sure what exactly causing the problem in my foot however he didn’t like the look of it (really?) and wanted me to have a scan, IV antibiotics and complete elevation of the foot but ON THE WARD.

·   I can’t sleep anywhere other than my bed, with my pillow and my duvet and my husband (nurse suggests I bring my pillow and duvet but clearly draws the line at my husband)
·   I miss the boys (Yes really!!)
·    I know I snore and I don’t want to be the annoying one who keeps everyone on the ward awake ( as it happens I didn’t need to worry about this... read on)
·   I’m not comfortable using anyone else’s toilet but my own. Especially worrying as my past experience of hospitals includes everyone being packed full of laxatives ‘just in case’. I will refuse the laxatives but with only one toilet per six beds it’s almost certain they will be some kind of poo fest going on in said toilet.

Anyway my argument fell on deaf ears and I was  dispatched to Ward 31, where the nice nurse is waiting for me with a life or death question ‘Do you want a TV or not’, of course I said Yes, so I was shown to my ward and my bed, which at first glance looked to be a fairly quiet ward full of innocent looking old ladies.


I have literally sat down on the bed when the ward starts to come to life. The curtain beside my bed is semi-drawn and I hear a voice shout to me, asking if I’m new to the ward, I shout back that ‘yes, I am’. She then tells us that she broke her arm slipping on the ice and has had to have her arm re-set in surgery.  I feel a bit rotten about the curtain being drawn so I ask if she’d like me to draw it back, she thanks me and says ‘Yes please’.
I stand and draw the curtain back and she looks round and starts chatting to Phil, she asks him about the parking situation in the hospital, the traffic and the weather, she then asks me why I’m in hospital.  I can sense Phil squirming in the chair beside the bed; he is shuffling his feet and looking at the floor. I haven’t really looked at her yet so I’m not sure why he’s reacting the way he is. I decide to take stock. I start at her head, she’s a lovely grandma type, round her shoulders is a hospital gown. I look further and realise why Phil is behaving like an embarrassed teenager. She is completely swathed in blankets and gowns with the exception of one part of her body. Her left boob is completely bare and resting on her knee!
I have no problem with this, however Phil clearly does, his shuffling and muttering has reached new heights, he won’t even look up when I speak to him
 There is movement from the chair opposite, which seems to cheer Phil up, he’s been looking at the floor for 10 minutes now, this is somewhere else for him to look. I bet he wish he hadn’t.  The middle aged lady opposite, who had been sound asleep in her chair has woken and stood up. We both look at her only to discover that she is still wearing a t-shirt but the blanket round her legs is on the floor and she is naked from the waist down. 
At this point I’m convinced that Phil is about to combust with embarrassment. I stand up and try to move him so his eyes rest in a ‘safe place’.  I decide on the far corner, and just as I do so, a barely clothed woman appears from a pile of blankets and vomits noisily into one of those cardboard hats.  It’s like being in a Zombie movie everywhere you look half naked women are rising up. There are boobs popping out all over the place.
I know Phil wants to stay with me, but I do the only thing possible. I put my finger under his chin and raise his head from the floor where he’s (quite rightly) looking again. I grip his face between my hands, look him in the eye and say....
‘Go home now! This is no place for a man’
I expect an argument. I don’t get one. He pats me on the head (like I’m a Labrador) and practically runs out of the ward shouting ‘ring me when you’ve seen a doct.........’

From this point the ward goes wild, there is shouting, screaming, nudity, vomiting. The irony doesn’t escape me; I chose this bed so I could have a TV. A TV that I’m not going to be able to hear.  As soon as I see a nurse I’m going to complain and ask to be moved. I’m happy to have my stay without a TV; I just want to be in a ward with quiet, clothed people.
At this point the lady in the corner shouts out....
‘Please come here, I’m desperate for you’,
I pretend to be hard of hearing and stare at a threadbare spot on my blanket, she tries again,
‘Please come here, I’m desperate for you’,
I look around the ward to see if she is talking to anyone else, but miraculously as soon as she shouted everyone else seems to have lapsed into a coma. I therefore presume she must be talking to me.
I’m nothing if not good mannered so I approach her. She’s fairly innocent looking and as I get closer she holds her hand out to me, so I reach out too, and she grabs me, with a vice like grip.
She’s still shouting,
‘Please come here, I’m desperate for you’
I tell her I’m here, which does no good; she pulls me closer still and practically screams in my face
I’m quite scared now, she's holding my hand so hard I'm certain it's on the point of breaking.  I try to back off but she’s got hold of me that tight that if I take my hand back I’m going to pull her out of bed.  I ask her to let go, but she’s still asking me to ‘come here/desperate for me’ etc.

I'm certain I'm never going to remove her so I consider the inconvenience of managing day to day tasks/working etc with an old lady attached to my hand.  I decide it might cause a problem in my marriage (Phil comes up to bed to find an old lady between us in bed ‘This is Ethel, do your best to ignore her, she’s charming really)so I use my other hand to prise her off, before retreating to my bed.
I attempt to pull my curtain around my bed but Boobie McGee in the next bed tells me off, so I leave it where it is. The lady in the opposite bed has fallen back asleep in the chair, wearing only a t-shirt with legs akimbo and the naked vomiter is still vomiting noisily.

At this point a porter with wheelchair turns up to take me for a scan.  He says Hello to all the ladies on the ward, who all wake at the sound of a man’s voice and I am completely in awe of the fact he ignores their state of undress and goes about his work.
I return from the scan and within the hour a nurse appears, tells me I have an aggressive form of cellulitis, puts a port in my hand and starts to pump me full of IV antibiotics (disappointed its antibiotics and not crack, if I'm honest). I lie on my bed for two hours listening to the madness in the ward. 
·        End bed (Ellen)
Ellen has shouted repeatedly (amongst other things)
o   I desperately need you
o   Can you please take my hand, take my hand, take my hand
o   Will you give me a guarantee
o   I have such pain relief, I beg for your relief
o   I plead with you to give me a happy birthday (see later)
(having talked to her daughter and son when they came in they claimed their mother always went ‘a bit funny’ in hospital but was fine the rest of the time)
·        Opposite end bed (Valerie, known to the nurses as vomiting Val).
Val was in hospital due to a fractured hip and due to the medication had apparently vomited constantly since coming out of surgery. Inappropriately (as far as I’m concerned) was the birthday party her family decided to throw her during their visit. They brought with them balloons, party poppers (Ellen got over excited ‘bring me your gun’, ‘bring me your gun’, ‘bring me your gun’) and cake, which they insisted Valerie ate....The poor woman couldn’t keep a sip of water down, what on earth made them think that she’d be able to stomach a slab of Thornton’s fudge surprise. They left; we were stuck with ‘the return of the fudge slab’. Plus the foil 'happy birthday' helium balloons, which over excited Ellen.

·        Opposite Middle bed (Lillian)

Constantly shouted that she needed to go ‘wee wee’, once put on the commode by the nurses she shouted the following
o   I’m weeing, I’m WEEING....I’VE WEE’D
o   It’s coming....NURSE....IT’S COMING (comment from passing nurse ‘I’m not a sodding midwife’)
o   NURRRRRSSSSSSE......NURRRRRSSSSSE, I’m stuck in this chair (at this point Ellen (end bed/take my hand/ I’m desperate for you/I give you no guarantees) would realise that Lillian was shouting and reply ‘SHUUUUURRRRRRUPPPPPPPPPPPP’.... which would cause Boobie McGee (next bed) to shout back ‘ Ellen don’t be so bloody rude’. All this noise would cause Vomiting Val to wake up and noisily vomit. Whilst Darlo Debbie was wandering about naked from the waist down (if anyone's going to murder me in my sleep my money's on Debbie, she has the deranged look of someone who's killed before)

Carnage...Utter Carnage.
By this point it was after midnight, the lights were still blazing, the nurses were in our ward on their rounds, complete with ‘medication trolley’ I asked for another bed, only to learn the ward was full.
I asked if the people on the ward (all shouting by now) were due any sleep medication, but it turned out they weren’t. I was on the point of discharging/killing myself when the lovely nurse said something that made my day.
‘The doctor thought you’d struggle sleeping on this ward so she wrote you up for some sleeping tablets, strong ones, would you like them’.
 I practically snapped her hand off. I reckon I was asleep within 10 minutes.....
I hope my snoring kept them awake.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A journal of dead pets

Today we have been talking about the pro's and con's of owning pets when you have children.  Apart from the obvious reasons why you might not be able to have pets (worms, fleas, excessive biting - or is that just my children), we were in agreement that owning a pet is a healthy part of life for a child.  After a while the conversation took a morbid turn and we started discussing the death of a pet.

The people involved in the conversation discussed how owning, and subsequently losing a pet helps children come to terms with death. I was very uncomfortable by this point.  I'd already been spouting forth with my opinions regarding the benefits to children of owning a pet however this particular subject left me feeling uncomfortable. I had two choices open to me.

  • Stay, gather people closer and tell them the tragic tale of our dearly departed pets, knowing that they'll shed a tear, then envelop me in a warm embrace and thank me for my honesty (perhaps end on a song, probably the theme from the littlest hobo- 'there's a voice keeps on calling me, down the road thats where I want to be') Expect tears, high fives, group hugs etc
  • Remember a terribly urgent (made up) meeting and rush off knowing the subject of our dead pets was never going to win me any friends/supporters, in fact I'm very likely to end up on some kind of register if not 'hit list'
So obviously I chose number two, however not without reason.

We had a fair few fish in the early days, which despite being well looked after, died As all good parents do, we replaced the fish, however we were sprung when I replaced a black fish with an orange one. We tried all the excuses in the book:
  1. when black fish grow up they become orange (it's the same with children, we've no idea what colour you're going to end up)
  2. we've fed them orange fish food which changes their colour (I'd be cutting down on the baked beans if I were you)
  3. you're a halfwitted child who clearly has no idea what colour your sodding fish was in the first place
At this point we gave up on fish. Fish are obviously too difficult to look after so we did the sensible thing.


The hamster was dark brown and we called it 'Button' (as in chocolate button). It was very cute to look at but less cute when you touched it. In fact it was a vicious bugger. Both children spent months with bleeding fingers  Often when Joe was cleaning the hamster out, he would run past me, screeching and waving his hand above his head, in a mad windmilling gesture. A closer look revealed that the hamster was savagely clamped to his finger. (To give the hamster its due it must have been brave, I wouldn't put Joes finger anywhere near my mouth, they're like portable listeria) By this point I'd given up on dealing with hamster related injuries, so I letft him to it.  Sadly we found the hamster dead in it's cage a couple of weeks later, apparently hamsters can have very short life spans. Breaking the news to the children was not as traumatic as I'd expected.  They didn't even feign grief, instead they made a suggestion, so.....


After the hamster incident, any parent in their right mind would have refused, based on fact that if owning a small rodent in a cage wasn't enjoyable, owning a bigger rodent in a cage was unlikely to be a barrel of laughs. However as I am not of sound mind I agreed.  The guinea pig came to live with us in the June. He was black and we called him Ozzy after the prince of darkness.  I'm sure guinea pigs aren't know for their sparkling personalities however this thing was dull. He just sat in his cage, looking at things, sometimes he walked a few inches, then did some more sitting and some looking. You couldn't pick him up because he bit you. Like I say DULL.

His only redeeming feature was that he ate his own poo. Now I'm not suggesting for one second that eating ones own poo is acceptable or even welcomed, however it does give you an edge above the 'norms' in terms of talking points.  'Marion, this is James, he's an accountant, enjoys stamp collecting and in his spare time he eats his own poo'  See instantly you're intrigued, you're probably repulsed too but the point is you've changed your opinion of James. He might sicken you to your very stomach but at least you have an opinion. 

This animal died too, I suspect we over fed it actually, because it did no exercise and just laid around eating, it was the size of a small badger by the time we found him passed away in his cage.  PS I later found out that all guinea pigs eat their own poo, so its not like it was his own, original idea. This disappointed me, he really was a dull as we all thought.

There was still very little grief or weeping or wailing from the boys.(none) Now I know you'd think I should be glad, but every book on parenting I've read (none - I'm just making it up as I go along, stumbling from one parenting disaster to the next) said that losing a pet helps children come to terms with grief.  WHAT GRIEF?  These two were practically giddy with delight trying to decide what pet they could lose interest in next.  What will they do when I slip off this mortal coil, toss me in a skip and get a labrador no doubt. 

We refused another pet for nearly a year, however the boys started to moan that everyone had a pet but them.  I caved eventually after a particularly long bout of good behaviour  (35minutes) and agreed to get another pet. Now, this one seemed more hopeful, it was interesting and educational and I thought it would probably hold their interest, so we did our research and


The snake was a big hit from the start. He was a 5ft black and white cornsnake, he was very friendly, and everyone seemed to like him.  We didn't know what to call him at first (Thanks go to the pet shop for their 'oh so' useful tip. 'Whatever you do, don't call it Syd. Its a common name for snakes'. I covered poor Syd's ears when he said this, no child wants to know his name has hit #1 in the top hundred boys names for snakes for the 25th year running)  So obviously we called him Freddy after Freddy Mercury (no, no idea either!) and he held the boys attention.

The only downside to owning a snake was having a tupperware box of frozen mice in the freezer. When we bought our first box of mice the useful pet shop man gave us some hints and tips
  • If the snake doesn't take the mouse dance it around in front of the snake so it gets it interested (is merely jiggling it OK? Should I attach strings to each tiny paw allowing the mouse to attract the snakes attention by dancing to thriller?)
  • If the snake won't eat the mouse brain it (I wish I'd never asked, I'm not telling you google it if you've got a strong stomach)
  • Some snakes are picky and will only eat certain colour mice (do brown mice taste different to white mice - are they like bread?)
  • Don't defrost them in the kettle. Yes you heard. DO NOT DEFROST THEM IN THE KETTLE.  This is what he told us, apparently he's heard of people defrosting the mice in their kitchen kettles....JESUS WEPT....whatever next, eating your own poo?
So as I say the snake held everyones attention until tragedy struck.  I killed the snake!  Not on purpose obviously, in fact I still to this day feel bad about poor Freddies untimely demise. I threw my handbag (huge/weighs the same as a Nissan Micra) behind the sofa and accidentaly it hit the plug to Freddies heat mat and unplugged it.  We didn't realise for a while by which time Freddies core temperature had dropped too much to get better. This time everyone was sad. Poor Freddy.

About a year later we got our beautiful bullmastiff Mica, who we all completely love, in fact it was when we were in the garden recently with Mica that we started talking about the pets who had gone before.  I looked around our garden and asked Phil were they were buried.  He didn't seem to understand, so I asked him again, he looked confused,

'Buried?' he asked
'Yes, buried' I repeated, wondering if he was in some kind of delayed catatonic grief state.
'They're not buried' he replied.
I was confused, if they weren't buried, where were they. I looked at him waiting for an explanation.
'I've been putting them in the dog poo bin on the field!'


He had been putting our dear deceased pets, in Morrisons carrier bags and dropping them in a dog poo bin, because he didn't want cats digging them up. I was horrified and couldn't help wonder....

Mica is a 9stone bullmastiff, when her day comes how on earth will he squeeze her into the dog poo bin?

 I'm hiding the hacksaws.