Emergency Ward 10

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My husband returned from hospital today.

He was taken ill on Sunday last….he has a foul nasty now -after years of diagnosis, misdiagnosis  and stabs in the dark – known as CANOMAD and has had attacks from time to time over the last thirty years.

While it might sound like a variant of rabies the easiest way to describe it is that if he catches a ‘flu’ bug, instead of his antibodies attacking the bug his antibodies attack him, destroying the nerve sheaths and rendering him paralysed.

It starts in his lips, progresses via his tongue and throat and if not treated in time would paralyse his lungs….so we have to live near a hospital that can treat him with immunoglobulin – the only treatment known to medical science – which costs an arm and a leg.

Thus at three thirty on Sunday morning we were belting along in a CAJA (Costa Rican national health service) ambulance which swooped down the switchback curves of the road to the capital at a speed far in excess of that proposed for the conditions  – which was fine until we hit- in every sense – the intermediate town.

With a view to winning the elections the outgoing mayor had installed speed bumps on the main road through  the town centre.

‘Bump’ is not an adequate description…think Big Dipper.

Our driver had not passed that way since the bumps were installed so we hit them at a speed which achieved a fair semblance of lift off, Leo flying into the air from his stretcher and descending with an audible thump while I picked myself off the floor and extended my vocabulary by listening to the driver’s commentary.

I wish I had written it down….certain phrases had an almost biblical intensity, with use of the ‘selah’  at key intervals.

Unloaded at the Emergency department, into a scene which Cecil B de Mille would envy…patients, family of same en masse, Red Cross staff trying to reclaim their wheelchairs and stretchers, cleaners wielding mops, catering staff in hairnets distributing coffee while nurses, doctors and medical students produced organisation from chaos.

Luckily my husband is an inpatient at the hospital, so his dossier was available, diagnosis made and treatment ordered – as soon as there was a bed available in the Emergency department – no good looking further as the hospital was full to bursting point.

Bed finding was the speciality of a senior female doctor who bore a great resemblance to Granny Giles – without the hat.

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She stalked the wards and corridors in search of prey…and pounced.

A gentleman in his sixties, safely esconced in a bed, was complaining loudly that no one would bring him a coffee.

Granny Giles studied his file and summoned a porter.

Get this gentleman back in his own clothes, give him a coffee and send him home by ambulance. If his lungs are strong enough to bellow like that he can bellow at home….

So Leo’s treatment commenced…

On Monday he was transferred to another ward….and I discovered the visiting system….

First, you have to obtain a visiting card. This card resembles a zoo entrance ticket in that it firmly forbids feeding the inmates.

Then you have to turn up at visiting hours: for anyone who remembers the NHS of the fifties and sixties this springs no surprises.

But this hospital has its own way of running things. There is a check point where staff make sure that no illicit pork scrachings, booze or sticky sweets are being smuggled in – and the queue runs outside the hospital and round two blocks.

Unless you are a pensioner. In which case you wait on specially reserved seats and are let through first to many cracks about age before beauty and give the young ladies priority to have the  time to titivate themselves…

Thank goodness for Danilo who held the fort while I took the bus to the capital…a three hour round trip apart from the visiting. Alone, trying to close up the sheep in the dark, I would have been pushed to the limits.

Still, daily life went  on regardless so late in the week I ‘phoned my mother to get her shopping list which would go online to Tesco and in due course be delivered to her door.

After close consideration of the merits of gammon as opposed to a beef joint business was concluded and mother got down to the events of the week.

Mother in Southampton, when on form, can give Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells a fair  run for its money and she was loaded for bear.

Sport mad, she cannot watch cricket as she will not pay for Sky but she was up to date with the news.

What’s all this about the West Indian Under 19 team running about naked?

Mind boggling gently I seek further particulars.

Well, they’re not wearing anything and the umpires are letting them!

How do you know…you can’t watch the match on the box.

They’re talking about it on Test Match Special….they’re running out men wearing no clothes.

Who is doing the running out?

Someone naked. His name begins with M but I can’t remember it…

A  cup of tea later I attempt to unravel the mystery.

It appears that the West Indies Under 19 team’s bowler ran out an opposing batsman in a way which was within the Laws of cricket but which was deemed unsporting.

The thing is called a Mankad– after the first chap to try it in the modern era.

What mother is thinking of is a Mankini…..

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I agree that players wearing mankinis might well encourage audiences…but what I would like to know is how mother discovered the mankini…

 

As they Revel in the Joys of Renovation

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It’s not always as much fun as this – clambering about in a roofless wreck dating from the fourteenth century; a stone spiral staircase in the remains of the tower and an unsuspected vaulted cellar below, discovered when the termite specialist from the town hall fell through the floor into its entrance.

‘What bad luck,’ said the neighbour. ‘Fill that in quick before the archaeologists find out about it.’

My husband is a serial house renovator, beginning in the evenings after work  in London as a young man when his haggard looks on arrival at the Stock Exchange in the mornings prompted his then boss to counsel him not to be out on the tiles every night. Stifling the urge to respond that actually he had been under the joists he remained quiet and just smiled mysteriously when colleagues asked him how he managed to pull the birds so successfully.

He continued in France…..but there was an obstacle to progress.

The artisan francais.

In that time and in that place the artisan francais was the bodger supreme and the client did as the bodger told him as he, the bodger, was, after all, the artisan while the client was only the client.

You wanted a damp course installed for the new kitchen? Fat chance.

A. The bodger didn’t know what it was

and

B. The bodger didn’t intend to find out.

Instead, should you be rash enough to go away for a week the bodger would promptly dry line your kitchen instead thus putting out all your measurements for the units.

What with that and the habit of mixing up a barrow load of cement just before lunch and dumping what remained unused in the shrubbery it was clear that the artisan francais was not the answer to prayer.

Then a friend in the village – a Turk married to a French woman – put us on to a friend of his, another Turk running his own building business.

We had struck gold.

His estimates were reasonable and accurate; he knew what he was doing and he had an eye and a feeling for old buildings.

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He and his main men – the mighty Osman and the monosyllabic Ramazan – supplemented by the young men straight from Turkey, undertook the heavyweight stuff; removal of walls, replacement of roofs, replacement of rotten beams with RSJs, laying floors, making arches and doorways….our part was the follow up work; pointing, painting, puttying and grouting. Uncomfortable though they were, given the endless metres of tiling I had to grout the bogging pads certainly saved me from an attack of grouter’s knee – something which sounds as if it should have been celebrated by Rambling Syd Rumpo:

There were arts to learn…an RSJ does not look at ease alongside ancient beams: the answer is to enclose it in a plasterboard case, then mix up a gunge of glue and plaster which is slapped on with a liberal hand, combed to imitate wood grain and anointed while wet with walnut stain.

Sounds naff…looks good and certainly fooled every expert.

To restore limestone mouldings perished by the weather you could buy a powder called ‘Patrimoine’  – but it wouldn’t last unless you first applied Bondex to the site to be restored. And at that period you had to bring your Bondex from England.

Bringing old wrecks back to life was a joy.

Some we lived in, some we rented out, others we sold on straight away, but each was a pleasure.

When you can find this old lady, windows broken, water running down the walls,

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and restore her dignity

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You feel that all the work was worthwhile.