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Ramblings of a nine-stone ghost
As I return to the fold after 78 days in hospital and the loss of three stone in weight, I can only thank the myriad well wishers who contacted my family and to repeat the quote of Mark Twain, the American author and humourist, who once wrote: "The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated".
One lady who met Mrs S on her way to Chase Farm Hospital after being advised that I might not last the day misunderstood the conversation and sent a letter of condolence on my untimely departure. Imagine her surprise when we came face to face last week. I thought she was going to keel over at seeing a nine-stone "ghost".
The phrase "seriously ill" does not do justice to the time I was in the intensive care unit - luckily I can't remember any of that period - but I revived to a life of blood tests and scans and learning to walk again with a frame in physiotherapy sessions.
There were lighter moments. A physiotherapist came to my bedside and said that he wanted to check my chest. I said that a scan a few days before showed that this was not a problem area.Notwithstanding, he applied a stethoscope to various parts of my chest, under the armpits and around the back. "Breathe in, breathe out"was the extent of the conversation.
Finally, he expressed satisfaction with the result, saying I was clear on one side but had a slight wheeze on the other. "Did you have the wheeze before your operation?" he asked. I replied that not only had I not had a wheeze but I had not had an operation.
The chap looked startled and looked at his clip sheet. "Aren't you Fred?" he asked. Fred, it transpired was wheezing along at the other end of the ward.
Then there was the day my pal Ron looked in for a visit. But,instead of greeting me in the first bed on the left, he went to the bed opposite, hand outstretched and saying:"How lovely to see you". The screams from the Signy family broke up what looked to be a beautiful friendship.
I also achieved what must be a world record transfer when it took SEVEN HOURS using hospital transport to get from the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead. to Chase Farm in Enfield. Transport was booked between 4-5 p.m. and I reported to the departure area. That closed at 7 p.m. and I was wheeled to the transport section, where I sat for hours waiting for a call.
Hours later, with three of us remaining, I was told:"You're next". When the ambulance came I was told we were going to drop off the other couple en route, The ambulance then went to a hospital in Kings Cross, dropping off a gentleman at his home opposite Hendon FC before, stopping only to put some diesel into the ambulance, we arrived at Chase Farm after midnight.
Progress is slow but sure. I have been home for a month now and have two immediate targets - to abandon my frame in favour of a walking stick and to see Barnet FC in their next home game.
Thanks for the messages from all over the country - far too numerous to answer individually - and to all at Chase Farm, particularly the intensive care unit who did such a magnificent job to enable me to quote Mark Twain. All I need now is a result or two from Barnet to boost my recovery.