Monday, January 04, 2010

Let's do it again - in 2010!

So while Christmas passed without incident, New Year was a different matter.

As Mrs F-C and I geared up for a few days at a Lincolnshire cottage with some friends, the news came through that her stepfather would be coming to London on the 29th December to have his brain tumour op.

We'd known for a week or so that this is what was wrong with him and, living in Jersey, any operation would have to be done over here. But we didn't realise this would be so soon. But sooner rather than later is the key.

So from then on, each day has involved one long round of hospitals and family tensions. Not exactly the relaxing break either of us had in mind. And so it goes on, with mother-in-law in residence. Happy 2010 everyone!

Have you ever been in a hospital over the festive season? Until now, neither had I. There's something doubly awful about it: limp paper chains and a skeletal Christmas tree plonked in a corner, designed to mark but not get carried away about the fun it's supposed to be, while you're stuck in a bed wondering what's coming next. There's nothing more forced than hospital cheer.

While I don't exactly have a phobia of hospitals, I'd rather avoid them. Father-in-law's ward at this specialist London neurological establishment is bright and clean, but you never know. I can barely bring myself to breathe in in a hospital, let alone touch anything. I still can't eat Heinz chicken soup thanks to a short stay when I was nine years old, and I don't think I'd be able to eat anything now, either. I refused all cups of tea and musn't think about it when I'm eating at home. Thank God they invented those anti-bacterial gels. My hands are like dust after a visit, but at least they're germ-free. I notice everyone's well into the swing of doing this and dispensers are everywhere, so that's one good thing.

And now I'm used to the other patients. I couldn't believe it when we first went in. Men with heads half-shaved and giant scars and big bandages. It brought home to me just how serious brain stuff is.

There's one poor young guy in the next bed who, from what I glean as I desperately try to earwig, was seriously injured in a rugby accident, and lies motionless all day, hands and feet screwed up, eyes open and alert, the body twisted and lifeless. A girlfriend brings in a pile of papers each morning and reads to him. She's there morning, noon and night. She soothes him, shaves him, cuts his hair and his nails. She rubs cream into his dry skin. She kisses him and strokes him, but there's not a flicker of recognition. Her devotion is heartbreaking.

When you see someone your own age lying there, head shaved, falling in and out of sleep, you realise just how fragile life is. We don't really know about my father-in-law yet. They've relieved the pressure and done a biopsy and we'll find out tomorrow what can be done. Fingers crossed.

Let's live life to the full this year.

Happy New Year to you all.


Cocktails said...

Oh, that is grim. I feel for you and your family. Hope tomorrow brings good news for you.

And er, happy new year.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I know what you mean about the desperate jollity of hospitals at Christmas. Horrible. I've seen people sitting crying in waiting rooms with 'Here Comes Santa Claus' playing in the background, and wanted to beg someone to turn the music off.

I hope Mrs F-C's stepdad makes a good recovery. But it must be a very tense time for you all.

Mondo said...

My mum's been rushed into hospital over several recent Christmases, although out by Christmas Eve with home help visits after. Luckily she was in much better health this year.

It's an awful business that compounds the misery for all, and the food's absolutely rank, we'll take in meals from home or microwave bits..

Hope tomorrow's news is good FC

Five-Centres said...

Sorry to chime such a grim note first thing in the New Year. I'm sure things will improve. Thanks for your kind words, much appreciated.

Tomorrow: the night a woman at work had her kaftan jizzed on at Walthamstow bus station.

Red Squirrel said...

I can barely bring myself to think of the depressing awfulness of hospitals, having spent far too long in them as a child (not with me as the patient, though, thank goodness), so I feel your joylessness and hope Madame F-C's stepdad is on the up. Despite the nasty pea green paint and unplaceable olfactory sensations, at least hospitals are also home to some amazingly skilled surgeons/nurses etc. Puts our ignoble profession to shame. To coin a cliché: it's amazing what they can do these days.
And I'm REALLY looking forward to the cum-stained kaftan story. It got what it deserved...

Matthew Rudd said...

I went into hospital on Boxing Day 1981 for the removal of my tonsils. Clearly there is no comparison, and I was only eight anyway.

Everything crossed for good news today.