a few years later……


My father had 22 operations before he died. He spent most of my teenage years in a hospital ward a bit like this.

Thirty seven years after he died I finally had his picture framed.


I recall the days: 6 a.m. start when the patients woke, the cleaners came in force and the place smelled of disinfectant and cleanliness. By 7 a.m. he’d have breakfasted and was waiting for the doctors who visited in swathes, accompanied by nurses and underlings. The matron was to be feared. The nurses’ uniforms rustled. Rules and regulations were more important than patients.

We were able to visit between certain hours (6pm until 8pm perhaps). Two to a bed. In between he had physio and some sort of social care that involved making sheepskins slippers of which I was the grateful recipient. When we visited we talked in hushed tones and he and my mother exchanged information sotto voce about the men in the next beds. Sometime I did not visit because I had exams/homework/school stuff.

He died alone in the intensive care ward, his body having given up after all the operations. He was 62.

I am by comparison luckier. Last week I had a pre-op assessment. I’m healthy. But even better, the nurses call me by my name, and although the house surgeon looks to be about 12 he seems competent. There’s been a huge change in things since 1976 and I reap the benefits. My friends can visit. I’ll be in a smaller ward. It’s much more relaxed now and altogether more pleasant.

Just stuff you think about.


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