Then bright light.
“Anna, Anna. You’ve just had an operation, Anna.”
I opened my eyes. There was a nurse leaning over me.
“Do you need anything, Anna?”
She was maybe Thai or Filipino. She said Anna in a sing songy way. An-NA…
Within seconds a plastic cup of water complete with straw appeared. I shuffled up and had a sip. Then I noticed it. Out of the corner of my left eye I saw the time. It was half twelve. Hang on. I noticed that out of the corner of my left eye! I had peripheral vision!
The nurse took the water away from me and I lay back down. I started to shiver.
“Anything else An-NA?”
“I’m a bit cold…”
She quickly came back with a warm blanket and wrapped me up tightly. I closed my eyes. Then we were moving. My trolley was moving to a lift. We went up. PING! Doors opened, and we were back with the recliner chairs. Curtain drawn I was slowly eased off the trolley and into the chair. The chair reclined back, and I dozed away.
It was a weird state of consciousness. I had my eyes closed yet I was aware what was happening on the ward. From behind my curtains I could tell that the woman opposite me, who had come at the same time as me, had yet to go into surgery. As a result, she was feeling light headed and faint as she had had nothing to eat or drink. She was beginning to kick up a bit of a fuss. I moved the chair into a more upright position and began earwigging.
The curtain was thrown open and in walked Roberto.
“How are you doing, Anna?”
I told him I felt OK. He said that he was going to give me two eye ointments. One was antibiotics that I had to put on my eye four times a day. The second I had to put on the edge of my eye just before I went to bed.
“I must see you in clinic on Thursday to take your stitches out.”
The urgency in which he said this made me think that he must be of maybe Italian or Spanish descent. There’s no way a British doctor could have made such a request sound so passionate. We bid our adieus. The woman opposite me was now in a wheelchair in preparation for theatre. She wasn’t happy. Oh well she’d be asleep soon.
I was beginning to like the state I was in. What was good about it was that time seemed to be fluid. Usually in hospital time plods by. The hands of the clock seem to have weights on them. Now time seemed to be like the clocks in Salvador Dali paintings. It was melting away. The seconds blending into minutes, into hours. Nurses came and took their obs. I had some tomato soup. Then I was told I could go. Rather forlornly, I left and called my husband.
I was about half four, so it would take him a good hour to get there. I drifted downstairs to get a coffee. Costa was packed. I went to the in-house café. There was me and a rather harassed looking man waiting for service. All the staff seemed absorbed in a cabinet of sausage rolls. Apparently, they had the wrong labels on them. This was obviously far more important than paying customers. Something that they harassed looking man pointed out. Scowling at him, two women made their way back to their positions and gave us both our much-needed lattes.
I drifted to where I had arranged to meet my husband. He wouldn’t be there for a while, but I felt like people watching. The people seemed to fall into three categories. You had the nurses and the admin staff. They seemed the happiest and were laughing. They had finished their shift and could leave their work right slap bang in that hospital. The next were the doctors, consultants and surgeons. Nearly all of them were tall, slim and in a hurry. They looked pensive and uncertain. It was like they had left something unfinished behind. Finally, there were the patients and their families. They were going into rather than out of the hospital. Their expressions were blank. They clearly had no idea what lay behind those automatic doors.
“Mum! SHE’S got a coffee!”
I was being accused of my offence by a teenage lad in his hoodie. His mum gave me a withering smile. I was quite pleased that it was my coffee he spotted, not the huge black eye that I was now sporting. He began kicking the door of the café in ENT that had long closed.
“Leave it out! You’ll set off the alarm!”
The teenager sulked and started walking in and out of the automatic doors. His mum began fiddling with her phone. After a tense ten minutes, a red Range Rover pulled up.
Out ran the teenager, his mum switching off her phone to join him.
I decided to wait outside. It was quite warm, and it felt good to get some fresh air. As time melted away, my husband pulled up. We hugged, and he put my bag in the boot. He looked at my eye.
“Not bad. I bet the other guy came out the worse”
I gave him a thump and got in the car. Off we went to join an expletive laden ring road.