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U3A Writing: From One Home To Another

Shirley Long enjoyed her stay in hospital - and it was there that she met Boris.

Have you been in hospital lately? It is quite an experience, or it was for me.

I left my home in the dead of night, clad only in my nightgown, dressing gown and slippers. Why the unusual clothing for a journey you may well ask, and why, the equally odd hour of around 12.30 am? They were my thoughts too, as the ambulance, called to help me by Laurie, bumped and rattled its way towards the Base Hospital. Here I was, leaving behind my husband and my home, warm and snug, with my room complete with heaps of books, TV, upright oil heater, electric blanket and photos of my loved family, and racing towards - what?

You may wonder why I was in the ambulance in the first place. Unfortunately I had had a bad fall in my ensuite, which is next to my bedroom. Flat on my face I went, carving a chunk out of the back of my right hand as I fell, hitting it on something - the edge of the door, perhaps. I was unable to get up from a prone position, so Laurie had to call the ambulance for help.

The Base was its usual hive of activity, and they soon had me thoroughly x-rayed and trundled off to a ward. I was fortunate in my ward-mates - one was greeted with joy by Laurie when he visited me. She was one of his friends from the Carer's group. She was also a tough lady who never hesitated to call a spade a mattock or whatever. She and her husband were both 80 years old, and the love and affection they had for each other was strong and quite visible and very lovely.

Another character in the ward was Marie, who had worn her heart out caring for her demented husband. She also had a quirky sense of humour, and after her shower one day she appeared in one of her nighties which barely covered the necessities, and with some object dangling between her legs. It turned out to be a form of outwardly worn heart pacemaker. Then she stood in front of us all and burst out with "Don't let your dingle-dangles dangle in the dirt," which produced near hysterical laughter in her audience.

We also had a blind lady in our ward, so there was much variety of characters and interests. Then, unfortunately, the tough lady and the 'variety artist' lady both left to go home and the room we were in was changed into a men's ward, so my temporary home was transferred down the passage to another women's ward.

While all of this hilarity had been going on, the information was conveyed to me that the cause of my fall was an infection in the lymphoedema in my legs, which caused my legs to swell up alarmingly and uncomfortably and become fiendishly itchy. So the medical staff worked on eliminating the infection and strengthening my legs, which had become very weak. Three physios gave me exercises to do.

In this new ward, there was once more a variety of personalities among the patients, and I had Boris, my wheelchair, brought into the hospital. As may be expected, the male nurses became enamoured with Boris, and kept taking him for little runs within the ward and up and down the corridors. Eventually I was declared free of the infection and my legs took on a more normal appearance, and I was discharged to be transferred here to Moran Nursing Centre to finish convalescing and getting my legs working properly. The staff have been most helpful and it is a good place to be, with good food and quite a lot of entertainment organised for our benefit.

This home has been declared to be my final one. I am going to be a permanent inhabitant, with Laurie continuing to live in our Magnolia Avenue home. It relieves him of the worry about any possible falls I might have in the future, or any illnesses. With constant medical supervision and much encouragement, my health has improved to 100%. I now look after myself to a very large degree, and am growing constantly more independent. The 2-bed Respite Care room where I started here has been turned into a 1-bed Respite room and I occupy the rest of the room as my new and final earthly home.

Laurie and my daughter Vicky will arrange to have many of my personal belongings, furniture and framed photos etc. brought here to be installed. Many of my loved books, etc. will have to find happy homes elsewhere, as available space is not lavish. So the past months, approx. 2 years 7 months, have been a learning experience in many ways, but I have grown through them. Since then, I have returned to my own home, having had many life lessons which were interesting.

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