Thursday 1st March 2012
HAND in hand, face to face, side by side: am fond of the balance of such phrases, several of which constitute a poem, finished today, to go with a photograph taken recently at Berkeley Hospital, which has now closed.
Been lucky with my health: only a few nights sleeping in a ward; more hours visiting others than lying there dreading asking for the bed-pan.
The pneumothorax was scary, mind.
One Friday lunchtime, aged twenty-five, when in teaching. Kay might remember: she was one the students I was interviewing about Drama options, while bolting down steak pie, veg and gravy.
The school secretary drove me to Casualty. Her diagnosis was indigestion. Whoever first saw me agreed.
What? I’m having great difficulty breathing! And it hurts to hell.
My GP happened to be in the hospital, having his weekly get-together with colleagues, kindly dropped by, perhaps foregoing the cheese and biscuits.
“Hmm. Interesting. Could be a partially collapsed lung. What have you been up to? Something for the pain and down to X-ray.”
A smiling Dr Pandi welcomed me to the chest ward, by which time I was less anxious and not having to pant all the time.
“We can drill a hole between your ribs to let the air out, or let the lung re-inflate naturally, which will mean strict bed rest for a few days.”
I chose the latter, slept for sixteen hours, awoke feeling fully recovered, was overcome by the number of visitors, cards and gifts.
“Yes please, but not oranges: make the fingers too sticky.”
Another awkward moment when the consultant caught me reading the folder placed on the bed prior to his round.
“Not for your eyes, Mr Moore. That’s why it says ‘confidential’.”
“Er… how’s your Latin, doctor?”
A month later, declaring me fit to return to work, the same consultant could not confirm smoking as the likeliest cause. Damn. Wish he had.
Felt sorry for my headteacher, who arrived bearing a pack of oranges. Couldn’t say anything, not face to face. Being ill and feeling embarrassed go hand in hand.