Mar. 16th, 2009

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My mother's been in hospital since last Tuesday's collapse, and was moved up to the HDU (or ICU - 'high dependency' vs. 'intensive care' - take your choice) on Wednesday evening, so that her heart rate and rhythm could be monitored continuously. Several quite plaintive texts and phone calls followed me home the first night - the I'VE NO READING LIGHT one garnering the most sympathy, but apparently that was rectified while I was still sympathizing.

From Thursday on, I was very taken with the jollity of the place - there was only one other woman there for a while, and she wasn't very ill either, the nurses were all wonderful and friendly and had a lot of time to chat - all was very unhospitaley feeling, aside from the squeaky cleanness. On Sunday morning when I rang my mother up she told me about the drama that had happened overnight, with a man brought in and nearly dying. She was enormously impressed by the way the two nurses on duty worked together, using the word 'ballet' several times.

I went in later on Sunday and saw the curtains on the bed beside hers drawn, and a friend of my mother's told me very quietly that the man had died just a few minutes before. The friend and I went downstairs and talked for about 15 minutes, to get out of the earshot of his family, and they left shortly after I went back up to my mother. It was a bit disconcerting how wildly metaphorical the whole thing was though, as she quite calmly ate her tea with the curtain separating her bed from that of the now dead man's bulging slightly towards her bed, while the nurses did whatever washing they do of the body. How THIN the veil between this world and etc...

Today, it was back to party, verging sometimes on the farcical - until the consultants came around very late in the afternoon, which was close to farce of another type. James, another cardiac patient in the unit: a) hums most of the time; b) can do the Irish Times Crossword in 3 or 4 minutes (and has won prizes in timed competitions to prove it); c) asked me to bring in an iPod and speakers tomorrow so he can teach the nurses to boogie-woogie; d) pontificated a bit about how much he reads, though only ONE novel. There IS only one novel, in fact. (It's Michener's The Source, if anyone could give a flying, which is more than I could, and yes, those were his exact words.)

For myself, I'm rereading Maggie Stiefvater's Lament, about which I hope to say more when my brain isn't eaten up entirely with matters medical and the psychological responses to same. The book is well worth it.


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