Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
By day three on the trauma ward in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, I am almost enjoying myself, having finally stopped posturing about ‘ the meaning of life in the face of a near-death experience’ and (thank heavens) rediscovered my sense of humour.
In fact, there are moments when I find myself laughing more than I have done in years. This is due, I think, to the way that a stay in hospital (for those not suffering from a serious illness) releases you from any sense of personal responsibility. Temporarily unable even to get out of bed, I am forced to give over every boring daily task (apart from brushing my teeth) to the incredibly kind medical and non-medical staff.
This helplessness, combined with the camaraderie I have established with the totally hilarious Donna and Claire (two of my ward-mates in bay C), at times causes me to giggle so childishly that I have to ring the bell for an emergency bedpan.
I am also released (regardless of what Bryony might say) from my usual, rather pitiful vanity over things such as my hair and make-up – not to mention my, er, age. Since I am forced to give my date of birth every four hours – when the nurse administers my medication – I lose any sense of embarrassment, particularly as it turns out that I am the third-youngest on the ward (OK, Elsie and Ada are, respectively, 93 and 97).
And while Naomi has brought in my cosmetics bag, there are no mirrors – and even if there were, what can my High Impact mascara add to my postaccident ‘smoky’ black eyes?
Perhaps the most intoxicating thing about being bed-bound (apart, of course, from the morphine) is the way in which my family rallies round me. I feel loved, valued even, in a way I haven’t since my children were adoring toddlers.
My only worry, on day six when I am finally able to walk to the loo and back on crutches, is how on earth I am going to cope when I am discharged. How will I manage when I am back home alone?
At times I giggle so childishly that I have to ring for an emergency bedpan