Writing Hospital Scenes -- by Elizabeth Kay
And we did, so that bit was all right. But the first lodge we stayed at looked suspiciously familiar, although it was hard to be sure as the trees had grown a lot in the intervening twelve years. We congratulated ourselves on still being well twenty-four hours later. But the following night we were ill, and by this time we were absolutely certain it was where we’d all caught salmonella before. It was only a twenty-four hour indisposition this time, so we were fit enough for the next stop which was at a slice of paradise called the Palmarium Forest Lodge.
|Liz with brown lemur|
The two guys who were the ambulance crew were not only very nice, they were very dishy. Or maybe that was the morphine. They had a catheter in me before you could say IV drip, and the pain magically receded into the background. It was midnight by now, and I vaguely remember being transferred from the stretcher to a bed when we reached the hospital, eight and a half miles away, which seemed a bit challenging. Someone asked me if it was my hip that was hurting; it wasn’t, it was just the abdominal pain but I thought, wow, if they know I’ve got a bit of arthritis in my hip they’ve accessed my notes already. Impressive.
I was told I was going to have a CT scan so I could only have sips of water, and at some point I had a top-up of morphine and once I needed a complete change of clothes, even my shoes had something unmentionable in them, and it was done with such gentle good humour that I can even remember laughing about it. It wasn’t until I saw my GP later that week that I realised how many tests they actually did. Temperature, bloods, ECG, BP, a full CT from head to toe, rectal exam, urine test… a complete MOT, really. And the conclusion? Extreme constipation, very nearly fecal impaction, and that can be dangerous. I remember thinking, oh that’s all right then, nothing serious, I can go home now, and told Bob I was ready to leave.
I wasn’t, I hadn’t been discharged, and ten minutes down the road I had a phone-call saying I needed to go back straight away as I still had a catheter in each arm. But what I really recall was the calm of that A&E department, it was like watching a swan travelling gently downstream. But what you need to remember is that the legs are paddling like anything beneath the surface, and things really are getting done. It wasn’t like Casualty at all. It was a really good experience.
It took another six days and industrial amounts of laxatives to start to shift everything, which took a further week. I felt as though I’d been through a wringer, thoroughly exhausted and falling asleep a lot. But the explanation seems to be the two doses of diarrhoea I had in Madagascar, from which I never really recovered. My body went into spasm in retaliation, and I wasn’t quite well enough to notice what was happening.
|Bob chilling out on the veranda at Palmarium|
|Liz feeding a crowned lemur|