I’d been sick for a couple of weeks and was shit-scared of what might actually be wrong with me. In the end it was Malky and Truda that made the difference and they helped me over the road to the A&E at Wellington Hospital. There were a lot of questions from the nurse on the front desk and I answered them all as best and as honestly as I could.
She looked me straight in the eye and said – “Have you been drinking?”
I felt really guilty and answered – “I had a can of beer yesterday afternoon”.
“Oh, water and coffee too”.
We both felt relieved and she wrote something down.
I actually didn’t have that long to wait – they rushed me into a room and another nurse came and took down my particulars then kitted me out in one of those hospital gowns. A beautiful young doctor looked me over and said they would have to admit me right away – x-rays and ultrasound just like that and samples. Time melted away and the pain relief they gave me was no good at all. I wound up on the seventh floor in the place they assess you for surgery.
There was a young Irish surgeon who was really nice and he let me go over home to get my laptop even though it was against the rules. I was really grateful for that – it meant I still had my facebook world and my music and this series on the Vietnam War that was gripping and could take my mind away.
They put me in what would turn out to be my own room on a drip and gave me morphine and that actually did take my mind away…
Day Two Monday
But not the pain. Nothing took the pain away.
Through the nights I took off the nicotine patch as they recommended so the big dreams wouldn’t come. The nurse would visit at various times and take readings. Mish was her name and she looked after me that first night then I never saw her again but she told me some of what I needed to do and how to hook up to the hospital WiFi.
The main surgeon arrived in the morning and did a lot of poking around on the front of my torso. He said he was still looking at results and hadn’t decided not to operate and they would keep looking at my heart, blood and piss. I told him about my left leg and left shoulder. There were several doctors there and one took an interest in my leg and my member – she didn’t think they were connected.
I was taken down to the ultrasound room again in a wheelchair and got hammered. The woman who wheeled me back knew I played guitar and they were all very amused that I’d just put out an album called Epidural.
It had been a very strange year so far…
But I had my own room and I’d been very lucky.
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary