It’s a short walk up the road to the car. All okay, no parking ticket so that’s good. I hang around a little just to breathe the air and munch some crisps from a bag in the shopping I’ve on-board from nearly five hours earlier.
Time to go back, but I take the cut through rather than return past the Harbour Hospital. In a few minutes I’m in the pharmacy at Poole.
I sit down and wait, not too hopefully as some of the people waiting were here when I left twenty minutes ago or more. But, after about fifteen minutes Marilyn’s name is called and I collect her drugs; then re-trace my steps to A&E.
It’s very crowded here now. The inner receptionist leaves the safety of her desk and screen to work the keypad allowing me back to bay 4 and Marilyn.
“Busy night?” I say to her as she presses the buttons.
“Always busy nights here” comes the weary reply.
She holds the door for me and I glance back at all the people behind us. It’s a complete cross section of society, old, young, affluent and not so, all here with one common purpose to get help for themselves or a loved one.
There’s been talk of closing this place down, of moving it all to Bournemouth Hospital some miles away, across roads regularly choked with traffic. I can only assume that those proposing this idea have never spent any time in A&E or had to witness a loved one of their own doing so.
We need more of these places not less, funds should always be available for them. Hope is to be found here for so many, and who has the right to take that away from them. Why do we have to suffer so many bloody fools in authority in this country and see so much money wasted by and on box tickers and pen- pushers holding down lucrative non- jobs?
Deep breath Mark, don’t get wound up it’ll only unsettle Mar’.
I’m soon back at bay 4. Marilyn’s pleased to see me, her heart rate is coming down but it’s still a slow process not aided by her growing tension and anxiety. It’s easy for me to forget that she just is not use to this environment whereas I am well baptised in its pace and procedure’s.
I continue to tell her about the last time Elaine and I were here and the people we came across, and promise to read her Elaine’s blog of that night.
Josh has gone off duty and we have a new consultant though I cannot now remember her name.
We both like her, she is very thorough, in- fact the care here is excellent from everyone we deal with. They don’t rush or shout or get flustered but are very professional and re-assuring at all times; I remember it as being like this on previous occasions though everybody is new to me now.
The bay opposite has a new resident, a lady of late middle age who looks to be in a lot of pain. We assume the rather bored looking man with her is her husband. He looks to have lost a lot of weight recently as his clothes are all loose and baggy. She is doubled over on the bed and wants morphine.
“Just need some details first” chirps the young nurse beside her.
A few mumbled replies come to her questions then she addresses the husband, “Has this happened before?”
“Forever” is the tired reply and he busies himself from then onwards with his phone.
Staff come and go and I guess she got her morphine as later she perks up and behind closed curtains a nurse questions her about recent bowel movements, “ No, not exactly runny but quite wet and a lot of bits in it; I’m not usually like that.”
Marilyn and I look at each other, her face tells me she doesn’t fancy a sandwich right now. A just reward awaits he who invents the soundproof curtain.
Our wait continues.
Mar’s heart rate is consistently lower now but does keep rising again especially as she keeps looking behind her at the monitor.
“Stop looking round you’re winding yourself up.”
“I can’t help it Mark, I’m getting so anxious lying here, and I’m getting worried about you now too.”
“I’m worrying about what being here is doing to you. You went through all this shit with Elaine I can’t ask you to go through it with me too. You ought to go, I could call Simon (son) he may be able to come over.”
“Bollocks, I’m not going anywhere till you’re ready to leave. It doesn’t bother me being here; I might have thought it would but it honestly doesn’t. Elaine’s not waiting here for us or me or whatever, like Kilroy- We Were Here- but now we’re not, just me again, this time with you.”
“I bet she’s laughing Mark- “There, your turn now.”
“If she’s laughing then she’s laughing with us- or holding our hands.”
Mar’ smiles over at me; time passes, the monitor keeps flashing its lottery of numbers.
We are silent for a time and I think of Elaine and that full night we spent right here together, so clear in my mind. I was afraid at first that she was dying, that I was going to lose her, the fear so real to me then. How was I to know it would be realised little more than a year later.
Time passes and the patient becomes more impatient and restless.
She is given more tablets and we are told that the x-ray results have come back all clear.
It’s now just after 8pm and it’s become quite obvious to me that Marilyn’s bpm is going to stay on the high side just because of where she is, so I go in search of nurse Maria and explain asking if the consultant might come and see us again soon.
To my utter amazement she joins us only a few minutes after my return.
She studies the monitor in silence for a short while, then kneels beside the bed on a level with its occupant.
“Yes you can go home now but…..”
There is a list of do’s and don’ts plus she carefully goes through the drugs and the dosage Marilyn is to take. This is all addressed mostly to me as she knows I’m the one to remember it all, not the patient; again a role I’m very familiar with. Then we are free to go.
Mar’s off the bed and into her jumper coat and boots in seconds, afraid I think, that there may be a change of mind. But soon we are re-tracing the route I remember so well to fresh air and freedom.
On our way back Marilyn turns her phone on and there are several messages from worried friends. Going to hospital meant cancelling her afternoon shift at the tiny Oddfellows Arms pub in the centre of Wimborne, and word has got around.
Traffic is light and it’s not long before we are back outside her home; it’s been a long afternoon/evening.
Sitting at the kitchen table I go through the drugs and dosage with her and write it all down. She’s not stupid, but it’s easy to get confused once you’re back home, something else I know only too well. Then I take my leave making her promise to call me later so I know she’s okay.
It’s a short journey of a few minutes back home for me. The cats have been shut in as I had expected to be home hours ago. Rita runs about at the prospect of food whilst Sammy ignores me with lofty distain from the staircase.
They get their supper, and after lighting the wood-burner I crack open a beer and sit close thinking on what this day has brought into my life.
How strange it all seems now I’m home. Co-incidence? – to end up in that same place again; or is there some hidden lesson or message in it all waiting to be found? As I’ve mentioned previously Elaine didn’t believe in co-incidence, but the question now is, do I?
A short time ago Marilyn was fine and dandy, now all this. Is it permanent or is it transitory? A warning shot across the bows maybe? “Time is precious un-buyable, constantly running down and then out; don’t waste it or the opportunities it brings with it.”
Elaine and I always tried to make the most of what we had, what came our way. As time pressed on we came to realise its importance, not a conscious decision perhaps, at least not at first, but intuition maybe, ignored at our loss.
Today I didn’t envisage Elaine in bay 4, it was always Marilyn there, and I honestly had no jitters being back in that place once more. My tears outside the Harbour hospital were spontaneous and genuine at that moment; there is no point in forcing emotion that is not present.
But I don’t regret them nor am I embarrassed by them, though it’s nearly two years since I lost her there is rawness still within me; I know there always will be to some extent. Sometimes I may need to scratch it open again, like you would with a scabbed over cut or burn; you know it does little good but you cannot resist that minute of indulgence.
Is time the healer that they say or is that capability within us all along and the moment just has to be right?
Today’s echoes of and from my life with Elaine have set me thinking.
So much of ‘us’ was given over to time at hospitals that it became a way of life, but even more was spent at vintage and antique fairs. An idea has been hovering at the edges of my mind for a while now, that is, to return to the place of our last ever fair together- the Cornmarket building Devizes -early 2020.
I’m not sure why, I know Elaine won’t be waiting there. Perhaps I’m picking at that scab again but I have to find out. Maybe future time is not the only healer, maybe past time can do it too.
I do know I’ve be afraid of returning to any of our regular venues; afraid I think of what I may find, find within me that is, not in any actual building itself.
I have already checked online; at present there are no longer any vintage fairs being held at Devizes, but there is going to be a craft fair, on a Saturday, late November; we were always there on a Saturday.
It only takes to the end of my second drink, my minds locked in; I’m going back.
To be continued, soon…
It’s that time of year again and I am not sure if the next post will be out before Christmas so I’d like to take this chance to say once more a big “THANK YOU” to you all.
Thank you for staying with the story as it unfolds; I’m never quite sure where it’s going at any one time but it’s moving; somehow I feel in the right direction.
Believe me when I say that writing this and, knowing there are those out there who wish to read it, with or without comment, has been to me as great a help as any individual has in my life since I lost Elaine.
Nearly two years ago now a faceless horror came into my world. We, Elaine and I, always knew that that horror lurked at the threshold of our happiness, but we came to regard it as part and parcel.
Just something that was there, that one day we understood was going to be able to cross that threshold; and one day it did.
In doing so it instigated its own destruction – stupid bastard, but we knew it would never be capable of destroying ‘us’, and it never did.
This should be a miserable time of year for me but, I’m damned if I’ll let the ‘turkeys get me down’ any more. Elaine would swell with pride at my standing defiant and, laughing along with others rather than folding into darkness and constant tears.
I know in my heart her wish across the void would be that I will not forget her and God may strike the light from my soul if I should ever dare- but life goes on, including mine.
Have the best Christmas you can; I’ll be back soon- my love and thanks to you all…Mark.