The Godfather: Peter Corris on hospitalisation #2
Some weeks ago the NRB Editors posted that I was taking a break after a break. You gotta laugh. I’d had a mysterious blackout in the kitchen, had fallen and broken a vertebra, ribs, and bones in my ankle and foot. Then it was the magnificent ambos, a jab for the pain and off to RPA lickety-split.
I spent nine weeks and a day in three different hospitals. First for tests at RPA and the putting-on of a cast for the lower leg (the vertebra and ribs were self-reparable). I was there for a few days in a shared ward that included an elderly Greek woman suffering from dementia. She laughed for no reason, sang, not untunefully, and several times crossed the ward to stroke my beard. Jean saw her off quite severely.
Another point of interest was a young Muslim woman nurse who performed all the duties, including the intimate ones, with aplomb.
Then I was transferred to the Metropolitan Rehabilitation Hospital in Petersham, where I’d been five years back with a broken leg. My left leg was ‘non-load bearing’, which meant a hell of a lot of hopping. After six weeks the breaks had healed and the cast came off. At my first two-legged exercise in the gym I became woozy and tests showed my heart rate had dropped alarmingly along with my blood pressure.
Ambulance again to RPA to be put on a heart monitor and then to the Macquarie Private Hospital for the implanting of a defibrillator, a super pacemaker. Then back to rehab.
As all long-term hospital patients know, there are two critical markers to evaluate the experience – how quickly the nurses respond to the call button and the food. Macquarie came first on both counts.
I spent another three weeks at the Metropolitan, with Jean visiting every other day and providing wine and other comforts, rehabilitating the damned lower leg. This was a painful process but apparently beneficial. With no fear of heart glitches I was able to participate fully and graduated quickly from a high arms-and-shoulders frame to a smaller one and then to a stick. When a woman came in with a guitar and an unctuous manner and turned the session into Play School I opted out and continued my stick walking, and some walking without support, alone. When I achieved 140 metres in six minutes I was deemed fit for release. I also had to pass a test on getting in and out of a car with a stick. I’d been doing just this for three years and passed with flying colours.
Finally driven home by Jean I was grateful for my medical insurance, for the friends and family who visited, and most of all for the nurses, whose care and consideration are world class.