Thursday, 1 July 2010

Friday 25th June - Saturday 26th June

I visit Old Man in Intensive Care. My friend goes on to spend some time in Truro.

Old Man is doing well. They explain that they are looking to send him back to the Cardiac wards as their job in Intensive Care is done.

A cardiac consultant comes in to check on Old Man and my mistake is to try to discuss aftercare and whether he had come out of the other hospital too early. This man appears to be totally puzzled by my questions. Presumably the fate of the discharged patient does not cross his mind. He says: "Didn't the other hospital give you a booklet?"

Be warned, dear reader, with major heart operations and subsequent cardiac arrests. Aftercare? No probs. Just read The Booklet.

When old friend and I get home there is a friendly message from the Coronary Care Unit to say that the Old Man is back with them. "And how much better he looks than when we last saw him."

Later that evening old friend hands me a present bag containing a pair of green, embroidered cloth boots from China that I'd ogled in a Truro shop. She's better than a Booklet any day.

Saturday 26th June

Another cloudless day and my friend throws me out of her car at the hospital on her way back to her home 300 miles away.

I am confident about getting a bus home.

Find Old Man on his new ward and check him out. Then have to leave for their three hour "lunch and rest" slot.

I take myself back downstairs and pick up a sandwich and drink. And spend most of the three hours trying to compute the 25 miles back to my home by the rural bus services. Being a Saturday - one of the buses I had reckoned to catch does not come to this hospital. I will have to get another bus into the city in order to get that bus - in order to catch my home bus. Just three buses then.

During this computational period I am joined by a lady with a small case who has been visiting her husband for six weeks. She says that another bus route that I was contemplating is unreliable as to whether it comes or not.

We compare notes on the Caring Life. She says that one day she found herself on the floor at home. She lay there wondering why she was on the floor and then realised she hadn't got round to eating tea .... or lunch ....
She leaves me and sails back to her husband's ward for the start of afternoon visiting hours.

My visit is not due to restart for another hour.

I go out to the bus stop to check the times for buses into the city.

"Excuse me." I turn to see an Asian gentleman in sunglasses. "I am a new doctor here and must get into the city to get to bank. When is the next bus?"

"Well" say I, " Here is the list. See? Where they say Truro Bus Station? But you have to watch this column here. See? All these are saying Not on Saturdays...."

"It is very strange." he says "I have worked in Zurich and Amsterdam and all these places encourage people not to use cars. They have wonderful bus and tram services. Here. Everyone uses cars."

I can't begin to tackle pointing out the difference between European cities and the English rural South-West to this distressed gentleman. "City" is perhaps an administrative description of Truro, rather than a lifestyle description. I wish the bewildered doctor well and leave him to wait for something to come along ..... for somewhere.

I go back to see Old Man. And during my visit the Consultant From Hell reappears. He does not acknowledge me, of course. And during his discussion with the staff nurse at the Old Man's bedside he airily remarks that the Old Man may go home on Monday.

My own modest blood pressure racks up another notch. When the Lord Most High sails on his oblivious way, the staff nurse looks at us and pulls a face. "I shouldn't think you are ready to go home Monday" she says.

I must remember to ask the Consultant From Hell for his Booklet.

Old Man and I talk things through and plot strategy. I try not to worry him. But I am very worried myself. Does this system never learn about chucking out its patients too early?

It is about quarter to five. I tell the Old Man that I must leave to start my journey home. I kiss him on the bonce and go.

Outside I get my first bus. This is to the Main Street in Truro. Then I walk through to the Bus Station. There I have about half hour to wait for the next one, which which will take me to Helston where I will catch my final bus.

An optional bus comes in. But I decide to leave it on the grounds that I'd be more out of my way if there is a problem with the third bus.

I start to regret this decision as it becomes apparent that the bus that I've chosen to wait for is late arriving. All these things have a knock-on effect after all! Eventually it does arrive and I get on.

Along with a gentleman who also has experience of heart ops and proudly tells me of his own disappointing experience with possible eight month wait here in Cornwall. So that he shot over to France and had his op done in Toulouse in a matter of days.
"Be on the watch all the time." he says. "Take notes. And.... learn to drive, girl. Learn to drive."

He gets off the bus in a pretty rural village. He waves and wishes me well.

Our bus is rambling down tiny lanes and byways. It is very pretty on a fine summer evening. But I am now tired and aware that I am likely to miss my third bus. Slower and slower we go.
A car parked outside a house completely blocks the lane. The bus beeps. An apologetic man comes out of the front door waving his keys. He gets in the car. Fires up. Moves on to a pull in, and our bus passes him and carries on through the village. Horse riders. And the bus stops again. My optimism is running out. I am starting to fidget and swear under my breath. The one new passenger in miles takes forever finding their money.

By now I know I have missed my bus and resign myself to waiting for the next one at about 7.30.

When we get into Helston, the bus stops completely and the driver gets out.

Eventually another driver gets in and starts the ritual of form ticking and putting on a jacket.... There is no new number yet on the front of the bus. Its doors open.

"Excuse me," say I "Are you a number 2?"
"Yes. Didn't the last driver change the number? He's supposed to."

My luck is in after all. My bus from Truro has transformed into my Penzance-bound bus. I get on with a great sigh of relief.

With a shaking roar the bus takes off.
Little more than 10 minutes later the bus has screeched into my home village.
I get off. In shock. And watch the bus speed away in a cloud of smoke and diesel fumes.

I have been rescued by a Bat out of Hell.

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