My flatmate went to hospital yesterday, he’s still there today and will be tomorrow and probably the day after that too. He complained of stomach pains yesterday morning so I said, “Oh it’s probably the thai green curry.” It wasn’t. Turns out he had appendicitis and today they cut it out.
Manchester Royal Infirmary is a weirdly yellow building inside. The floors are yellow, the walls are yellow, the lights are flourescent yellow, the guy in the bed next to my flatmate was yellow.
Ward 11 contained a motley bunch of patients. In one bed there was an old man with the most wide open eyes I think I’ve ever seen; they were all bloodshot and watering and stared right into the middle distance in front of him. He rather brought to mind one of Lowry’s portraits. He might well have been heavily dosed up, he looked pretty vacant.
In the bed next to him, a young black man turned on his side. Looked like he was sleeping but every few moments an erratic sequence of noises would emanate from him. It would begin as a slight grunt, barely audible, before rising into a more defined moan. The moan would persist for 2 maybe 3 seconds before giving in to a soaring wail that sent an eye-squinting shudder through all but the Lowry portrait man; nothing it seems could have shifted that poor sod.
My flatmate was flanked on his left by the yellow man: John, who gingerly toyed with a bottle of Lucozade like it held the secret to his life, and if he broke it his chance at discovering the secret would be lost forever. I wonder if he knew it was plastic?
The bed to his right was obscured by the curtain yet the yelps of pain from behind them painted a far more telling image of the patient’s plight than seeing him ever could. “Are you still passing blood?” was one question I overheard, followed by a sheepish verbal nod. I dread to think what was wrong with that guy.
The soundtrack of the hospital is indeed a most dreadful one; the low rumbling of machinery dotted with the squeaking of nurses’ shoes on the floor provides the constant undercurrent for the orchestra of patients to perform their symphony of cries and shrieks, punctuated by the relentless deep cough of some old man in the bed nearest the exit. My flatmate’s only contribution to this dismal concert was the occasional spattering of percussion in the form of a muted grunt.
He was having his blood pressure checked when I entered the ward and didn’t notice me until I said to the perplexed nurse performing the procedure “He’s my friend.” I told my flatmate that he looked like crap to see whether his GSOH had been cut out too. He called me a dickface, which implied that it had not, before writhing in apparent agony. During a more reflective moment after our initial greetings I looked around and was struck by the complete lack of visitors for the other patients. My flatmate must have noticed it too as he kept saying “Thank you so much”.
“What are friends for?” I said.