Saturday, 17 September 2011

Same Time Next Year? . . . . . . . .

by Jay Diamond

Yesterday, my friend Jay of Jay's Pet Portraits,  greeted me with the above words, saying they'd be the perfect title for  a blogpost. She has a point. For those of you who might have been wondering whether Friko Has Left The Building without even a by-your-leave, I can report on something which appears to be becoming an annual event: a short stay in hospital.  Run any kind of virus or mild indisposition by me and I'll gladly pick it up; what's more, I'll instantly convert it into a bout of atrial fibrillation. Cue: visit to my GP max. 24 hours later, who then calls for an ambulance; and that's me out of the picture, attached to machines that bleep annoyingly, bored, self-loathing, bitter, and most of all, extremely cross.

This time I didn't even have a handbag (purse to you lot over there) on me - the GP surgery is just three minutes' drive away -  no phone, no money, not even a bar of chocolate to my name, to sweeten the hours in hospital. Tests and examinations took up some time, of course, but for long periods I was just lying there, doing what I do best, earwigging. (Are you glad you don't live anywhere near me?)

This was a Medical Assessment Unit with four-bed-bays, short of stuffing bananas up my ears, it was impossible not to overhear the conversations around me. Besides, they were the only entertainment on offer.

Part I
Mother and Teenage Daughter, with nurse taking notes:

How's your appetite?

Mother (the patient): fine, I eat well.

Daughter (the visitor): Ha, you eat chocolate for breakfast, chocolate for lunch and chocolate for dinner. I'm always trying to get you to eat properly.

Mother: I don't just eat chocolate, I eat other things in between.

Nurse: Do you smoke?

Mother: yes.

Nurse: Would you like to stop? I could get you into the programme here. How many cigarettes a day?

Mother, quietly: Twenty.

Daughter, exploding theatrically: Twenty! in your dreams, Mum!

Moral: Do not let your teenage daughter accompany you into hospital!

Part II
Mother and Teenage Daughter:

Daughter (the patient), either asleep, or busy with her Blackberry, mostly silent.

Mother (the visitor) to the room at large: She's not well at all, she's had lots of tests already and tomorrow she'll have to have a lumbar puncture. They have no idea what's wrong. But I'm not leaving, I'm going to stay all night. If they try to shift me I'll kick up a fuss. They may act like they're adult but they're still only children. They need their mum to be there, when they wake up.  There should be wards for patients her age, not just for children and adults, and parents should have a place to stay too.

Moral: Do not let your overly protective mother accompany you into hospital!

Part III
Elderly Daughter and ninety-one year old Mother, tea lady, doctor.

Mother, very sweet, very deaf, quietly dozing.: It's not six o'clock already?

Daughter: No, that's not a clock, that's a monitor.

Mother: If it's six o'clock you'll want to go home and have a rest.

Daughter: After sitting all day?

Mother: Why are you here? Have you been here long? You'll want a rest, won't you?
There go those chimes again, is it six o'clock already?

Daughter: No, that's not a clock, that's a monitor.

Tea lady: Hello, would you like a drink?  What would you like, tea, coffee,  hot chocolate?

Mother: What's that? Have you come to give me an injection?

Tea lady, as before, louder. The old lady takes tea. Daughter leaves the ward after helping her mother with tea and biscuits.

Doctor, Indian, in beautiful flowing clothes:  Hello Mrs. X, I have come to take a look at you.

Mother: Yes, thank you, I had a lovely cup of tea, very nice.

Doctor: No, I am your doctor, I have come to take a look at you.

Mother: What's that?

Every other person in the ward: she's deaf, you'll have to speak directly into her ear.

Several attempts at communication later the doctor says: Ask your daughter to speak to me when she gets back.

Mother, with a chuckle: I'm very deaf, you see, you'll have to speak to my daughter.

Moral: Do not leave your elderly parent alone in hospital!


  1. Sorry to hear you haven't been well. During my bout in the hospital, my room-mate - 84 - and her sister in law spoke only in Italian except when they spoke directly to me or the nurses. No eavesdropping possible.

  2. Sorry to hear about your visit to the hospital, Friko, but I trust you are doing well now. Your stories of the hospital experience are hilarious and all too familiar. I, for one, will take all of your advice.

  3. Thank goodness you're such an observant and astute earwigger. I can imagine you composing blog posts to while away the hours. I hope you're feeling much better now. Don't do it again!!

  4. I've not spent an overnight in the hospital since 1995, but those conversations sound similar to those I heard back then!!

    I'm sorry to hear you have been ill and hope you are feeling better now. I assume you are, since you are home again. Dear, dear Friko, take care of yourself!

  5. Wow, that was FAST, not even time to pick up your handbag... I am glad it is so close to you and that you are now all right. Right? Love the conversations, we have all heard them before, but they made me smile nonetheless. :-)

  6. Hello:
    We are so sorry to hear of your hospital stay, and even more saddened by the news that this seems to be a regular event for you. However kind the staff, and we have always found them to be beyond excellent,hospitals really are best steered clear of if only one can manage it!!

    Your stories of patients, visitors,mothers, daughters, tea ladies, doctors and nurses are very amusing and, certainly,in our experience, all too familiar. Add to this the pulling of the emergency cord in the loo instead of the light switch,the irate wife demanding her 'rights' and 'compensation' and 'the manager' and the waiting, the waiting, the waiting and the waiting and our picture would be nearly complete. However, a stretch in the children's ward, complete with jolly animal mobile above bed, whilst haematology was being painted was a highlight.......we know, we really should get out more!!!!

  7. Sorry to hear about this Friko. Sounds like you are back to your old self! Do take care.

  8. Friko, what a sudden turn of events you've had! It's good to know that care was so nearby, and that you are on the mend, with your fabulous ear for plot lines completely intact.

    Each of your quickly sketched tales of communication shows how those folks did try to connect, and also how well you do communicate.


  9. Part 1. that would be me and my mother.

    Sorry you've been indisposed. hope you're better now.

  10. Dear Friko, I'm so sorry to hear that you are in the hospital. I hope all goes well and that the stay in short.
    Be gracious to yourself and catch up on any sleep you've been missing.


  11. Being an earwigger is essential for a writer, proved by your little cameos. Hope you are better now.

  12. Hi Friko .. hope you'll feel better soon .. and fully recover. However - having been in that situation in the MAU so often with my mother .. I can endorse your stories (sadly) wholeheartedly! Cheers Hilary

  13. Oh Friko! I am glad you are well. Sorry to hear that you were in the hospital!

    I pride myself of my fairly in-depth knowledge of across-the-pond slang, but it's the first time I've seen earwigger!

  14. Sorry to hear you've been unwell, Friko. Your stories of overheard conversations reminded me of when I took my daughter, then about 4, with me to the doctors. He asked me about how my weight control was going. 'Oh,' piped up my daughter. 'Mummy's grown out of her diet.' Thanks, child.

  15. Oh dear! That really sucks! So sorry Friko! Hope you are up and about very soon!!
    Those conversations cracked me up!

  16. i cant take anyone with me and i cant leave them alone...oy on those convos...sorry to hear you have been in the hospital friko...hope all is well soon!

  17. Oh I hate being in hospitals, and hope that this does NOT become a yearly practice of yours, otherwise the moral of your story is going to be "carry your handbag at all times."

  18. Well . . . you know . . . it's good to have an annual plan so you know what to expect.
    I'm certainly glad you are home and, presumably, feeling better. You're certainly back to your amusing ways.

    Overhearing the most private of conversations is SO interesting, isn't it? I think it is. For about five minutes. After that, y'just wanna tell 'em all to shaddup.

  19. Deeply sorry about your illness, but your sense of humor is still extremely healthy. Always have emergency chocolate in case of an unexpected hospital stay.

  20. Oh Friko - so sorry to hear you've not been too well. Hope you're feeling better soon.
    I don't listen intentionally but I enjoy other people's conversations as well, they do brighten the day.

  21. The moral should be to never go to the hospital in the first place. But since you did I will remember your morals.
    I hope you are feeling well now.

  22. You absolutely must carry chocolate at all times - even in a pocket (hang the melting - it is still chocolate). It is guaranteed to ward off visits to a hospital...

    During a stay for a liver biopsy, I was the only patient in a recovery ward that had NOT had a colonoscopy - the instructions from the nearby nurses on the other side of the privacy curtains was hilarious and made for great entertainment (on my part!)

    Take care of yourself and be well.

  23. I've always heard "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" I thoroughly enjoyed the tall glass of lemonade you served up, thank you. Hope the diagnosis was for something minor and you are completely mended. Jim

  24. Oh , I am sorry ... that must be frightening , however much you're used to it .
    As for mothers and daughters , isn't it odd how they manage to swop places over the years .

  25. Bonza tales i especially like the morals at the end of each tale. Hope you're feeling better real soon :-).

  26. What an adventure !

    Many getting well wishes and a peaceful Sunday for you all as well.

  27. Sorry to hear about your illness and visit to hospital. I hope your health is now in as good a shape as your sense of humour!

  28. Well, you certainly made good use of your time. But I hope you're better and have been let out.

  29. You are an excellent observer, and "earwigger." So sorry you were ill, and that it required a trip to the hospital. I hope all is better now. We need your insights and sense of humor!

  30. Enjoyed your hospital sketches.
    sorry you are under the weather, but at lease you are not an American.
    The bills would make you sicker!

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    We are crazed moving!

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >


  31. friko for goodness sake!!! the stories are great - if only they knew how observant and clever you are. they'd not say a word and then we'd be left without these little gems!!! get better soon my friend. steven

  32. Ah Friko, glad you are alright. I too tend to have that atrial thing that goes awry every now and then. I do my best to avoid hospitals at all costs, but while sitting in the waiting rooms, at times for a couple of hours, waiting on my GP I, like you, tend to listen to my neighbors. It is the only thing that makes the time of waiting go by. And it is the only thing that makes me feel fortunate.
    I trust you are now home and well.

  33. Sorry to hear you had to go to the hospital--I have had atrial fib for some 25 years or so, and another rhythm problem which occasioned a pacemaker 10 years ago, but I manage to stay out of the hospital most of the time. I just read that 30% of people with it are not aware of episodes--don't feel a thing! I kind of wish I were in the 30%--it's pretty scary. Stay well.

  34. ich hoffe aus ganzem Herzen, dass es Dir wieder gut geht! Wäre ich in der Nähe gewesen, ich hätte Dich ganz sicher besucht!!
    Ich wünsche Dir einen schönen friedlichen Tag, liebe Freundin!

  35. Sorry to hear about your problems. Hope you're feeling much, much better.

    Hubby spent a couple of nights in hospital recently and had a bed next to a man who was a mass of drips and wires - except he kept disconnecting himself. Long suffering doctor kept re-attaching the patient...

    Doctor: "If you do that again, I'm going to knock you unconscious and tie you to the bed."

    The shocked silence was wonderful.

    Doctor: "And for all those of you listening in, that was a joke."

    Get well soon!

  36. Sorry to hear of your hospital stay. But a marvelous job of sensing the humor in it and sharing it so well.

  37. Very nice. I see you're in reasonable spirits. Keep them up!

    As for Part 3, I have an elderly relative who hears nothing at all. Any talk is made in writing. Like Beethoven, who kept several Konversationshefte about him for his interlocutors. These make fascinating but tantalising reading, as only one side of the conversation is recorded.

  38. How sorry I am to hear about your stay in hospital and even more, that this is a 'regular' occurrence.

    Being in hospital is like getting zipped-into a different universe: it becomes hard to imagine the real world is still outside.

    Your deaf old lady made me remember a Faulty Towers episode. Thank you for giving me a laugh.


  39. Yuk, I really hate hospitals. The second thing I hate is adult children who treat you like a child. When did this transfer of power take place? Happy to hear you are back from your boring experience. Dianne

    PS I seem to recall you bouth a new purse last year, or was that a pocketbook?

  40. Well, whatever was wrong with you Friko, I hope they found it and fixed it! I don't have a medical degree but I can say with certainty that your sense of humour is intact, so whatever is wrong it's not that! Wishing you a speedy recovery....

  41. Sorry to hear about your stay in hospital, Friko. The three episodes bring about smiles - I suppose you’d be getting better to see such a sense of humor. Episode 3 reminded me of the two occasions when my mother took plastic surgery, once on her right thigh bone, twice on her left thigh bone two years later. At hospital everyday she told me to go home sooner with various reasons. Fortunately she can manage to take care of herself at home now, and we children visit her in turn to help her. No better place than home. Take care of yourself.

    Moral: Walls have ears.


  42. The best part of a hospital stay (if on is a student of human nature) is the opportunity to observe. The worst part - well, I'm sure you've experienced it. I hope you're feeling more like yourself by now. I'm so sorry to read the latest.

  43. Moral: Don't say anything you don't Friko to hear!

    I'm sorry to hear you have these worrisome bouts. It's good you're back. Now take care of yourself.

  44. Amazing that you had the where-withall to find the humor in the emergency room situation. Hope you're feeling better...

  45. All good wishes, Friko. I hope you're on the mend now.

  46. You have managed to make your alarming situation completely amusing. That's what I call public service.

    Be well, dear. Dicky hearts are such a nuisance and I'm so sorry.

  47. Certainly wishing you well!!! Cathy

  48. So sorry that you have this annoying problem. I'm glad you can find some amusement in listening to the other patients - I guess it passes the time. Boy how I hate hospitals!!

  49. You were mentally blogging from your hospital bed.. how dedicated. :)

    I'm sorry to hear that you've had health woes. How are you doing now?

  50. Haha Brilliant!

    I must admit, I do enough earwigging when I'm in hospital, on the train or whereever. I got one woman's entire autobiography on one train journey down to London (and it was quite interesting too!).

  51. P.S. - Sorry to hear you've not been well!

  52. I don't know if I've told you personally, but I have mentioned to one or two other bloggers (Dee rings a bell) how much I love you! You are one of the most insightful bloggers I know. I absolutely love your penetrating observations and your wonderfully dry (and often wicked!) sense of humour. I suspect I'd find you rather daunting in person. You possess such a sharp wit and I am sure I'd feel somewhat out of my depth were I to have a close encounter with your savvy intellect. I feel a lot safer knowing you from a distance :)

    Although I am certainly sorry to hear of these annual episodes of yours, since I realise that at the time they are anything but pleasant, I applaud you for turning them into an opportunity to observe life from the confines of your hospital bed. This has been a tremendously entertaining (and revealing!) read, from start to finish. Your are a rare gem, Friko!

  53. Oops! are a rare gem!

  54. How you found such a gold mine of clever things to write out of that awful experience is a wonder. (But then, think what someone else might have written had you actually stuffed bananas up your ears . . . love the idea of that.)

    Yet, funny though this was, may it be a very long time before it becomes necessary for you to go back and gather more material!


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