Chapter #14 no rest for the wicked – new model army – 1985

heart surgery

I needed a chest X-ray before I went back to the ward. The thing about private healthcare is that everything comes to you. In a normal hospital I would have had to have located the X-Ray department, taken a deli style ticket and then waited for my turn in a queue. In private land, the whole X-ray picture taking machine was wheeled into intensive care and parked in front of my bed. I had to have the photographic plate pressed up against me for which they managed to sit me forwards even more and prop it in between me and the bed. Job done.

There he was! Finally my knight in shining armour arrived at the double doors. I was bathed, two tubes free out of four and feeling pretty good. Nurse Curls was battling with the sticky tape holding in whatever was going into my neck. She managed to separate the sticky from my now not-so-pretty-and-steadily-matting hair, give it a bit of a clean and applied fresh sticky over the robotic bundle.

Little Mouse was there again. I knew obviously resistance was futile so politely listened to the ‘light bites’ lunch time menu and tried to apply rational thought and went for an omelette. Full of protein-ey goodness surely just what you’d need after a night in intensive care. ‘Any ham or mushrooms or cheese?’

“No. No. Just plain would be wonderful.”

In the wait for the omelette, B calls me beautiful on more than one occasion, which in my state is some deal. And I know he means it. I’m not a corpse for a start, which for the past 6 or so months has been a possibility. I do also know that I’m incredibly lucky to have such an attentive and honest partner. He said that Dr O had phoned him at about 4pm yesterday to say that all was done and that I was currently asleep in intensive care and when was the quickest he could be there. He’d said in about an hour and was there to view me, wrapped in plastic with a deep sleeping face on. He’d told the nurse then that I was beautiful and alive. Good result.

Little Mouse arrived with a plate of omelette. True to style at the Spire we’re not talking a one egg omelette here – this was a plate filler. But I still really didn’t have an appetite. To please Little Mouse I gainfully cut a mouth sized corner and chewed non-enthusiastically. It really was all I could do. The remaining 2 6/7 of a plate of eggs sat sadly on its plate Sorry chickens, I really am, but I have been through a lot.

By this point, they were quite keen to get me out of intensive care. Presumably the next cardio patient would be on their way out of theatre and needing a bed after all. Football guy was in no way ready to give up his berth so I was slowly but surely eased off my mattress, swivelled round and before I knew it was sitting in a wheel chair.

At this point I still had a wee bag, a smaller chest drain, neck attachments and various wrist and arm inserts as well as oxygen being funnelled into my nostrils through two little plastic tubes just like I’d worn in the oxygen bar at Bestival. I think just for a little dignity, while my hospital robe flapped around various inserts, Nurse Curls drew the curtains around my cubicle. She then left Bassalot and myself and the omelette alone while she got paperwork etc together in the main part of the ward.

I kid you not, Bassalots hand came up like a robotic arm, picked up half the omelette and shovelled it into his mouth. I’m not sure if he knew exactly what he was doing, it had been a tough night for him as well after all. I was just fairly pleased the omelette hadn’t gone entirely to waste. When Nurse Curls came back, butter wouldn’t have melted in that big grin-ey and omelett-ey mouth.

The two of us, well fed and made-to-look-presentable were handed over to a porter (one of the guys who’d picked me up the day before) and off we wheeled back to the ward. Bassalot’s phone went off with a ‘ninja’ sample and subsequently he and the porter got onto the topic of Die Antword, otherwise, I arrived ‘home’ without incident.

The nurse helped me into the chair in the corner of my room and I started to take stock of my new surroundings. I’d changed rooms for a start. I was now room 2 rather than room 3. It later transpired that while I’d been under the day before, pretty much all hell had broken loose weather wise and maybe, just maybe, the windows had blown in on my original room. There was certainly a lot of work going on around that area for the next couple of days.

My new room was fairly identical, small 3D printed Bassalot was standing on the bedside table, Pussy Deluxe was hanging on the back of the door and my fashion magazines appeared to be intact on the table.

I was putting a brave face on it but obviously I was pretty spaced. Despite having devoured half my omelette, B was ready to sample the delights of the canteen so he left me to it to go hunter-gather.

I (not that far removed from the modern world) found my phone and dialled my parents number. I called their landline and my Dad answered, professional as ever, saying “Hello” and then repeating the number I had just dialled. I hadn’t thought that my mobile number wouldn’t necessarily be programmed into their caller display unit so when I said “Hello, it’s Hannah…” there was a long pause as he absorbed this information and slowly and disbelievingly said “Hannaaah – how amazing!” It was obviously the last thing he’d been expecting barely 24 hours after heart surgery for me to be on the end of a telephone. Up until then Bassalot was the bearer of information. Dad probably wouldn’t have expected to speak to me directly for days. I’m so glad I called and will always remember the love and disbelief in his voice.

Before he left, B had tuned my TV on to 6 music which was far nicer to listen to than the bright lights and brash tones of daytime TV. Familiar sounds lapped around my vision as I flicked through the latest editions of Elle and Vogue. Velour pyjamas are big now – wouldn’t you know. Lauren Laverne was inviting people to get in touch and say where you were listening to 6 music from. I did run this through in my mind as quite an unusual listener. Hospitals trump most situations right so I’d probably have made it on air but at the same time I wasn’t sure people would want to hear about a gruesome operation, and did I even have the energy to actually dial the number into my phone. Or feel brave enough to talk live on air.

The Cult, She Sells Sanctuary, drifted from the radio. It reminded me of going to record fairs as a kid and rummaging through flouro coloured self made cassettes of bootleg recordings of gigs. My train of thought drifted to a guy at school who had a complete library of bootleg cassettes for sale. I’d bought many and had made him a mix tape in return. I was visiting my friend in a neighbouring village where he lived and so I posted it to his house. I remember I nearly knocked and for some reason I didn’t.

It turned out that night his girlfriend was missing and there was a massive police hunt for her. A guy walking his dog found her body in a barn a few days later. She’d been suffocated. It was truly awful. A massive whodunnit followed. It’s kind of ironic as the village where I grew up is now one of the locations for Midsommer Murders on TV. Roadblocks were set up and motorists were questioned in all the small villages. It was pretty much decided that a goth had done it and there was a less than convincing photo fit in the local paper that looked like any male goth I might have known at the time. Even more ridiculous as it turned out the ex local police chief’s son had committed the murder.

I didn’t go to the funeral. I don’t like funerals. I presume nobody does. The only funeral I actually want to go to is my own as some sort of finale party with my friends and family (assuming I go first of course and am not the one left at the end).

I thought about Heather. A really good friend of ours who had committed suicide at Christmas a few years ago. I didn’t go to her funeral either. We’d been camping that summer, a big group of us from back in the day and Heather had been there as an integral part of the shared flat brigade.

We had a great weekend with her as we were part of the naughty or no kids corner. The whole weekend was beautifully nostalgic and chilled out with people who we all felt incredibly comfortable with. We’d all shared flats and houses in our 20s so to be honest there were no secrets anymore between us and it was a priviledge to meet up with everyone again. My abiding memories of Heather will be her laughing as she tried to get her salvaged chucka tent back in its bag. And sharing a couple of ciders on a hot afternoon. And (many years before) having my first go on a drum kit ever with her back when she was a chisel jawed guy named Chris. All these memories I cherish and I selfishly didn’t want my abiding memory to be of her funeral but with no Heather present.

I’d indirectly thought a lot about suicide as a kid. Not for myself, but about it as an act. My Dad was a teacher and another teacher at his school had drunk some kind of cleaning product to kill himself and had then presumably been in a supreme amount of pain and told his wife. They rushed to hospital but nothing could be done to save him. I thought long and hard about him, his pain, his thoughts, his wife and the doctors. I cried so much for all of them. It must have been really hard for my Dad too. There was no real conclusion to my thoughts other than that life is not a given. It truly is a precious and incredible thing. And death is final. Absolute. I’ve got no proof of heaven. I just think you stop and am ok with that. But boy was I gonna make the most of the days I did have.

I also thought a lot about the moment when I woke up after my heart bypass operation. Ten past six. As there was just the snippet of the thought in my mind when I went under, that that might be it. And I’d been ok with that too. But now I was back. I was definitely back.

Heavy times but all good. Definitely back next week too, 6.10pm, 18th November with next chapter #15 ‘Paper Thin’. Have yourselves a good week 🙂 xx

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