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U3A Writing: An Unwelcome Experience

2006 brought a most unwelcome experience for Peggy MacKay.

June 21st, 2006 and still in a heat wave, though maybe not quite as hot today. But I feel really out of sorts and don’t know what to do with myself.

Jeanne, and Catriona Anne came after lunch, and we were getting the dinner ready – late afternoon. I did complain of pain between my shoulders and took two paracetemol then sat down. My next recollection is of Catriona Anne phoning for an ambulance. I was told I had been unconscious for ten minutes, which I found very hard to believe.

However, the ambulance arrived and the two paramedics attached me to a machine to test my heart and decided that Casualty at HRI was necessary, much to my dismay. The journey to HRI in an ambulance was not a comfortable one due to lack of springs in the vehicle and holes in the road – believe me. But we arrived, and I was duly put in a wheelchair and taken in.

We had a short wait; then I was put on a bed, attached to wires and a heart machine, had blood taken, was given an oxygen mask. And by that time my family had all arrived.

In no time at all I was pushed along corridors into lifts and taken to Coronary Care, which appeared to have only men in it, to my horror. I stated that I didn’t like it, not that it could make any difference. Here I was beside the desk where sat the consultant sat at a monitor watching as the drug to bring me back to normal was administered.

By now it was almost 10 pm, and I was dying for a cup of tea and even something to eat. My poor family must have been starving because they were all there in the waiting room not wanting to leave until I was out of danger.

Around 10 pm they were told to come and bid me good night and go home. My bed was pushed into the ward, but behind a partition from the men, with one empty bed which was to be occupied by a lady returning from Leeds. Phyllis turned out to be a really nice companion and made my stay much more comfortable.

On the other side of the partition were the men. The staff nurse informed me that one was old enough to be my father, and this I found hard to believe at my age. But it transpired that it was true; he was 102 and known as Grandpa.

Now Grandpa was quite ill and very deaf and needed attention during the night, but that was when he would impart his life story, 3 am being the favourite time. I learned that he had lived in India, then had a newsagent’s shop. He had one son, now deceased, three granddaughters and several great granddaughters.

One granddaughter came daily to encourage him to eat and drink, but it wasn’t easy. Some days he didn’t want to go home better, and other days he wanted to go home now. Trying to temp him by reminding him that there was to be a new baby shortly, his reply was that she had been a naughty girl.

Now all this would have been quite entertaining during the day, but it did lose its appeal at 3 am when I wanted to sleep. As Grandpa was deaf, everybody had to shout as well as him.

TV and phone then became an obstacle. My middle daughter bought a card for me, £3.50, and I decided to watch TV for an hour. So following instructions I inserted the card, but all I could get was adverts and instructions. So following instructions I phoned. After conversation it was decided that I had a faulty one, but they would put on the programmes in 20 – 30 minutes, by which time my chosen programme was finished.

Now this card was valid for 24 hours, so next day I tried again. Yes, there was a fault again. So altogether I got one hour for my £3.50. When the operator arrived the following day and I complained, he tested it and discovered the set was faulty, but he would get another and I could have free viewing.

“Thank you very much,” I said, “but hopefully I am going home.” And I did, with grateful thanks to a dedicated staff. But it is a new experience I don’t wish to repeat.


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