It's breaktime at the Royal Infirmary. I am in the blue-carpeted lobby while the patients are having their dinners, or in my father's case, banana-favoured meal in a bag. Things are proceeding painfully slowly. He has got a chest infection which is now threatening his already delayed departure. As my father says himself, this thing has taken on a momentum of its own. First they said it'd only be a couple of days, then actually, no, he needed a 'wee' operation to clear the carotid, and then he could go home after a couple of days recovery, and yes, but no, he needed longer to recover than expected because see, now, he now has a chest infection because of the impaired swallow function, and will need until next week to recover.
But what can you say? They are the experts.
He did seem a bit better today. In some ways anyway - the left hand is working better. And he's off the oxygen too.
He seems resigned to staying. Almost institutionalised.
So for the millionth time, let's say, we'll see.
For my own part, this is not so bad. Light is appearing at the end of the tunnel, however faintly.
And I struck lucky with my guest house this time. The owners really seem interested in making me comfortable. It's quite a unique thing, after the two previous places, one of which was run by well-meaning 12 year olds and the other one, a Holiday Inn in Glasgow, was an impersonal off the peg solution for stag parties more than an Otel.
(I love it when they say "otel' in old movies. How brilliant. Between that and "vey" I can amuse myself for hours. This o-tel is really vey nice. etc)
Edinburgh seems different this time. Not so hot and frantic. Cooler and more reasonable. Everything seems better. My faith is somehow restored - recently I have heard some wise people (Sinead O'Connor actually, and a medium) talking about their belief that in the after life, everyone goes to God, or to the state of bliss. I don't know why, but this resonated with me like a bell sounding in my chest. Yes, of course, I thought. That's it.
Everyone goes to God. Hell is something invented by ourselves to torture each other with. It's born of our earthly minds.
And I was so much happier then.
I went to get my father some chinos in (my) M&S today and there the rollercoaster I've been riding dipped suddenly and left me swallowing tears as the words formed in my mind: I'm buying chinos for my Da who had a stroke. (News flash, self. that was 3 weeks ago, nearly.)
I swallowed the salt, blinked and threaded my way out blindly through the stands of clothes. At least he has something to wear to physio. (Funny isn't it, how sympathy can be the undoing of the stiff upper lip too? In the Stroke manual they gave Da in the hospital there's a note to carers. Cry if you feel like it, it says. And tears jumped into my eyes obediently.)
I have a lot of time to spend in my head with no normalising company. Some topics covered have been:
What kind of a nurse would I be?
The nurses are nice, but sometimes the individual care is lost. Like my father is having a horrible allergic reaction to the soap they use. Which he describes as washing up liquid, btw. I offered to get him some other stuff, but he thought it'd be a nuisance. Poor Da. They just don't seem to be set up to notice that he is turning into a scabby pink crocodile. And they leave his glasses way behind him where he can't get them. When he put them on, he said, oh that's better, as if it was a miracle I'd organised specially. I'll wager.
The man opposite is all confused. Like a criminal on house arrest, he has to wear a bracelet which sets off an alarm in the middle of the night when he makes his multiple bids for freedom, with a pillow under his arm. Hey, he and Da should team up. Da could be the brains of the operation and the other man could be the legs!
Excellent, that's sorted then.
I don't miss eating, said my Da at one point yesterday.
Oh? I said, taken aback.
But I miss filling out my form, he said, referring to menu where one ticks one's preference for Shepherd's Pie over Rissoles or whatever.
It's time to get the old feller home.
Some hopeful news to that end was trasmitted today through the infinitely complex communication network on Ward 101. A bald young doctor (like the hotel managers, they all look about 12) who looked a bit like Dr Mark Green from ER told us that he (Da) may be allowed to make good his escape on Friday, or as soon as the IV antibiotics are finished. My optimism is being resuscitated. I am having CPR on the organ of hope! I can see a future.. I am dreaming it. Brother is working on making the 2 floppy ends of rope that are Dr Green and Consultant Chap in Beacon join up, like magic. Go on Brother, you can do it.
How cool would that be, I ask myself rhetorically. Friday! Oh, please.
I am in Cameron Toll SC in the food court, where food comes to be tried, and then put to death by overcooking, I suppose. It's 17.50 accordingly to the clock on Brother's mini-laptop. They are playing You're beautiful vey loudly.
Other thoughts that pop up in my head, unbidden, include:
why do children cry so much
Who am I
What will become of me
(ok. not really)
Goodness, that girl has strange hair. She has grey roots - but they look unearthly like a Weimaraner (sp?) whereas the allegedly "dyed" hair is a very natural golden brown. And, she looks about 20. Is this an ironic new old person fashion? It's possible, everything else has been done.
Take-out Chinese eals. Visions of people coming out with an eel under their arm.
Now, brain reduced to mush. Am going to watch The Constant Gardener with the volume off. -