No, not a complaint about the devoted care I continue to receive at the gentle hands of the NHS but, since admission on 15 September, I’ve been through the whole lunchtime sandwich menu several times, I’ve had two full hip replacement operations plus a “clean out” – all on the same hip – and had to learn to walk again three times, I know the unedited medical history of too many strangers and, after four weeks, my hair could probably do with a wash. I’d rather like to go home now, please.
Where were we?
My last blog related the gripping story of my chance encounter, and ongoing struggle, with a celebrity bug. Personally, I feel it’s not really a level battlefield when one’s opponent is the sort of creature that thinks it reasonable to hide out in one’s nether regions. I understand that, in terms of numbers, it has me licked, but on my side I have a supporting team with a lot of letters after their names and the interests of my posterior very much at heart, and the opposition can’t lay claim to that. Result, I feel.
Actually, the results are still awaited, but, if our side proves to be getting the upper hand, I hope to be on my way shortly. It’s just as well. Having been here so long, I’ve been asked if I wanted to make a cash offer for my little room under the right-to-buy legislation and I have been looking at some matching paint and curtain options. Just in case they want to move me into the main ward at any stage, I’ve threatened to scent mark my territory.
Despite my trusted supply of Muffles wax ear plugs (potential sponsors of this blog, please note “product placement” options), I’ve heard “our” end of too many phone conversations since I’ve been here – my room is immediately behind the nurses’ station:
“Yes, I imagine it is very messy – and, yes, I can see how your neighbours would have been a bit surprised — but I don’t think he needs to be readmitted for that.”
My capacity for decision making has been reduced to the daily choice between custard and pineapple upside down cake and whether to reply to a text from home before or after I do the hip stretching exercises. I ask auxiliary nursing staff if it’s ok to get changed or washed.
My world view is also undoubtedly overdue a refresh:
Mrs. Blog (who is undoubtedly storing up an ominous amount of credit by catering to my bruise creaming requirements): “How are you doing today?”
Me: “Blood pressure’s been a bit low all day, they’ve given me something for the swelling on my right ankle and I managed to you know what for the first time this morning.”
Mrs. Blog: “And what have you been doing with yourself?”
Me: “Watched Loose Women on the iPad, read the menu card twice and brushed my teeth. Though that could have been yesterday.”
Mrs. Blog: “Have you been following the Ebola crisis and the latest efforts against the terrorism in Syria and northern Iraq?”
Me: “I’ve asked if they can do an egg mayo on brown at lunchtime. It would make a nice change from the white.”
Mrs. Blog: “Your brother was on the phone last night to see how you were doing. They’re off to Kruger to mark his ‘big one’ on Thursday.”
Me: “I find, if I get a fourth pillow under my knee, it helps me sleep.”
Mrs. Blog: “Well, it’s good to see you’re on the mend. I’d better be heading home. The roads were absolutely flooded on the way here, the wipers are very dodgy and I think the gear box may have gone.”
Me: “OK. Can you remember to bring the cordial in tomorrow?”
There are still things that puzzle me after my weeks in here. Every single time they give me any heavyweight painkiller or put a drip in me they ask me to confirm my date of birth. If I were an imposter, sneaking into the hospital to assume this blog’s identity and undergo three major surgical procedures on its behalf, what would be my motivation? And my mental state? And just how essential was that unmissable arrow drawn on my right thigh before they took me down to surgery – was the huge wad of padding covering the existing wound, just three inches higher, so hard to spot?
I have way too much time here to contemplate my navel. I found myself recalling an earlier stay in hospital when, as a teenager, I had a cartilage removed following a rugby injury. At night, I remember, the nurse sat in the centre of the long ward, spotlit. You were made to feel distinctly guilty if you called for a bottle and she would make sure you waited a long time for it. A plea for a second bottle, to hold in reserve as it were, was regarded in much the same way as young Twist asking for a second helping of gruel.
There were four of us, youngish chaps, in a kind of bay at one end of the ward, and nurses would sometimes wander down for a chat, a flirt and a quiet smoke – on reflection that seems scarcely credible now. (I’m rarely on the receiving end of much flirting.) One morning there was a whispered warning as matron approached and our friendly nurse span round to talk to her, concealing her cigarette behind her. It was only when matron marched away that the lad in the next bed to mine let out a bravely suppressed groan from the still smouldering cigarette , stubbed out on his wrist. Halcyon days of the NHS.
Yes, I think it’s time I left, and I sincerely hope that my next blog will embrace some other subject, posted from home. Please excuse the self-absorption and reduced presentational standards, and accept my warmest thanks for the very kind wishes that you have sent.
On a totally separate subject, this prolonged stay in hospital has meant something of a clash with the publication of a light-hearted book about my life’s heroic struggle to remain normal(ish) while growing up and living with vets, particularly Mrs. Blog who vets in a professional capacity when not over-committed at M&S.
This excellent tome is called “It’s a Dog’s Life for the Other Half” and is out this month. My timings are now awry, thanks to The Wonderful World of Bugs, and I have already turned down one request for a live radio interview over the phone in fear that it might be interrupted closer to hand by a query on the quantity of leakage from my wound or whether I have opened my bowels today.
I have taken the liberty of reproducing below, in a boring monochrome format because I can’t master the technology, a kind of flyer thingy which should provide far more information than you could ever want. I apologise for the published price, for which I am not responsible, and I do know it’s available for much less. If you should happen to buy and enjoy, please “share” and “review” in appropriate places. If you don’t, please feel free to keep your feelings to yourself. Talk to you soon.
THE NEW BOOK THAT’S THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY ANIMAL LOVER …
As the brother of a vet and the husband of a vet, Steve Ankers can’t escape the fact that All Creatures Grunt and Smell!
Very funny and touching, all fans of James Herriot and Gerald Durrell will love this new book
Available from 20th October 2014 through all good bookshops and internet booksellers
“Hilarious & eminently readable” Terry Jones
(Monty Python comedian, actor, writer & director)
IT’S A DOG’S LIFE FOR THE OTHER HALF: TALES FROM IN AND AROUND A VETERINARY PRACTICE
by Steve Ankers
ISBN: 978 1 86151 199 7 Paperback 198 pages
RRP: £12.99 out 20 October 2014 Also available as an ebook
Published by Mereo Books an imprint of Memoirs Publishing
Amusing, bizarre, tear-jerking, side-splitting, harrowing and occasionally downright disgusting
encounters with pets (and owners) of all varieties, shapes and sizes …
“It’s a Dog’s Life for the Other Half” by Steve Ankers will have you laughing out loud and will
touch the heart of any person who has ever cared for an animal.
When your brother and your wife are both vets, there is no escape from call-outs in the middle of the
night, disrupted dinner parties, uneaten Christmas lunches, weddings thrown into disarray by escaping
animals, and having to act as the stand-in (untrained) veterinary nurse in emergencies. Life may be
chaotic and unpredictable when you’re a vet’s “other half” – but it is certainly never boring!
Steve Ankers wouldn’t have it any other way ….
Now Steve’s hilarious true-life adventures with animals and their owners are available for us all to read
in his inspiring account of lives spent working closely – sometimes TOO closely – with animals.
In Steve’s book you’ll meet …
• thespian camels who star in a village nativity play • a cat who ate a Chihuahua but spat out the tail
• a dog who ate a Cliff Richard cassette • a vulture who travelled hundreds of miles on a car roof-rack
• Afghan-hounds who compete (somewhat skittishly) at a dog-racing track • Robert the retired race
horse who hates crisp packets • a duck that thought it was a rabbit • a cat that wanted to be a
goalkeeper plus • and the cat who found its way home from Scotland to Sussex
and discover …
• how to rugby-tackle a fully-grown escaped alligator • how to handle a 3m, 57kg python who has
toothache • how to tactfully repel the advances of an amorous Llama without either party getting hurt
• the correct etiquette to employ if you ever find yourself holding hands with a famous actress inside a
bovine rectum • and how to track absconding peacocks in the dead of night •
“ … entertaining, enthralling and totally engaging …filled with spirit and good humour
…brilliant” Marie Carter, (Editor, Pets magazine)
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