Tonight is the night of the eighteenth of February, and this is my blog entry for the seventh. Once again I am playing catch up. The reason for this is that I have been in the care of St. James’s Hospital these past twelve days. All of this adventure began on the sixth when I went in to see the surgeon Mr. Mehigan as an outpatient. Let me say here, with a depth of gratitude, that Brian Mehigan is an outstanding example of a human being; gracious and patient – almost to a fault. After examining the cyst on my lower back, upon discovering an abscess in the locality, he admitted me as an emergency for surgery that afternoon. Little did I know then that this two night process would become quite an unexpected – and yet not always a fruitless or unpleasant – adventure. Given the urgency of my admittance, and the fact that beds in public hospitals are rare and precious commodities indeed, I was forced to put my life in order and get myself settled into a bed in a ward for surgery. Austin, Vincent and Paddy were already in the ward; men who would become quite familiar to me over the next few days. This was the first night of the Influenza Lockdown: no visitors whatsoever. Sure, it would only be a couple of days.

I’ve never spent any time in a hospital before, and, to be honest, the entire experience was rather daunting altogether. It was not quite the case that I was frightened. Fear, as such, never came to me until I was left alone behind my curtain in the ward. Prayer helps. There is saying your prayers, and then there is saying your prayers when you are frightened. I think God has a better chance of hearing the frightened ones. Before the fear I was curious. I wanted to explore the place and see what hospital was all about – I wanted to see if the rumours of urine and blood stains on the floors were true. They weren’t. James’s was immaculate. I was kitted out in a blue paper gown that didn’t cover my bum, a pair of white anti-clotting socks, and string underpants – qué sexy. Attired thus, Claire came to visit me. She wasn’t allowed inside the hospital of course because of the Zombie Apocalypse (Flu Lockdown), but she came to the window of the alarmed door by the Accident and Emergency Department. Her visit really set the tone for the adventure ahead. After falling asleep the curtain was pulled open and I was wheeled away to the theatre. The anaesthesiologist and I joked and laughed about my chances of survival, and the smile on my face did a great job at hiding my terror. I fell asleep.

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