The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­

The weird and won­der­ful world of hos­pi­tal-ward hu­mour

which, crit­ics of the scheme say, has re­sulted in peo­ple who would have oth­er­wise sur­vived, dy­ing of thirst, star­va­tion, and eas­ily pre­ventable med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions. I can un­der­stand my el­derly mum be­ing wor­ried about the Path­way, or what­ever they’re go­ing to re­name it. The Birm­ing­ham Boule­vard? But it’s the tim­ing of her hos­pi­tal story that I love. She’s telling me be­cause I’m in hos­pi­tal my­self, again, here in Ire­land. It’s like some­one say­ing, ‘Hey, let’s watch Ti­tanic to­gether as a send-off be­fore you go on your cruise hol­i­day.’

My fab­u­lous breast re­con­struc­tion de­vel­oped a com­pli­ca­tion, com­pounded by some­thing stupid I

My mother is so not re­as­sur­ing, it’s hi­lar­i­ous. ‘Anne,’ she in­ter­jected at one point, ‘Have you made a will?’

did (the hot-wa­ter bot­tle in­ci­dent, reg­u­lar read­ers). A sim­ple cor­rec­tive op­er­a­tion re­quir­ing a twonight stay be­came a week in­side — there’s now, lit­er­ally, a rather dis­con­cert­ing hole in my breast, the whole thing is vac­uum- packed in plas­tic and at­tached to a sort of ‘boob hoover’ that I’ll be car­ry­ing around for the next few weeks. ‘Well, at least it’s all ter­ri­bly in­ter­est­ing’ is the thought that’s keep­ing me go­ing, just about.

Plus my mum’s fab com­men­tary, which is so not re­as­sur­ing, it’s hi­lar­i­ous. ‘Anne,’ at one point she sud­denly in­ter­jected as I ex­plained what had hap­pened, ‘HAVE YOU MADE A WILL?’ Then I was re­galed with a story about a lady she knew who had a breast-re­duc­tion op­er­a­tion. She was happy with the re­sults... but some­thing just didn’t seem right, my mum ex­plained. Then this un­sus­pect­ing lady went for a post-op check-up — and she had MRSA! Cue theme mu­sic from Tales Of The Un­ex­pected, which would be ap­pro­pri­ate as a sig­na­ture tune at the end of each topic of her con­ver­sa­tion.

Af­ter­wards, hav­ing ex­plained the con­cept, ‘Liver­pool Path­way’ be­came a comic short­hand be­tween those of us on the hos­pi­tal ward. Any moan or com­plaint was met with a ‘Stop that, or it’s the Liver­pool Path­way for you!’ I threat­ened to sneak around at night and scrib­ble it on ev­ery­one’s chart. Yvonne, in the bed op­po­site, had had a be­nign facial tu­mour that ex­tended un­der her cheek­bone re­moved. Be­fore she went to theatre she ex­plained to me they were go­ing to have to open the whole right side of her face, and dis­lo­cate some bones to get at it. She had been warned she might be left with facial nerve dam­age. Though smi­ley and up­beat she was dev­as­tated, I could see.

When she came back af­ter her op­er­a­tion, I was straight over, mar­vel­ling, ‘Oh my God, Yvonne, the way they do stitches now is amaz­ing — you lit­er­ally can­not see a thing!’ She laughed at me, be­cause — wasn’t it ob­vi­ous? — they hadn’t touched her face. The sur­geon had tried an­other way first and suc­ceeded in re­mov­ing it through her soft palate. The skill in­volved bog­gles the mind. Not to men­tion the con­sid­er­a­tion for the pa­tient. You can only imag­ine her ex­treme re­lief.

Fi­nally, I just want to give a shout- out to Sarah- Kate and Jo and to Mary in the bed be­side me, be­cause it was a treat to meet you all.

And as for dear Yvonne, her neigh­bours in South Co. Dublin will be re­lieved to hear that she’ll no longer be honk­ing her vu­vuzela to alert her daugh­ter that the tea’s ready. For the time be­ing, at least…

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