30th January 04, RNRU Ward, Homerton Hospital, Hackney, London E9 6SR


WARNING: This is unedited, not so much a Joycean stream of consciousness as a dripping tap. Maybe I'll bother reviewing the next one; meanwhile this is the best projection of my thoughts since July.


20th of January and I finally moved across the car park. Yesterday, in fact, exactly six months after I came off Tig's scooter, I moved to the much-vaunted RNRU, the Regional Neural Rehabilitation Unit. I'm in rehab ! Welcome to Betty Ford. Apparently this place is as good as anywhere in Europe and so far I'm not impressed. Last night I sat on my bed for two hours waiting for some attention; the nurses made sure everyone else was OK, turned off the light and disappeared. Was I angry ? No, I was fucking livid. I had to use the call buzzer and, as near as I could, gave them a piece of my mind. You'd think a new patient might actually get checked on before lights out, wouldn't you ? There's a world of difference between lying on top of an inappropriately set-up bed, freezing, and being in bed with a jumper on, splint applied and a bottle to piss in.

This morning I waited another two hours and again had to ask for an injection of fluid, repeating the litany about yes, I can eat mush but NO, I CAN'T DRINK. Why the staff don't have this kind of information and why it's my job to tell them is beyond me. Bah, humbug.

Moan, moan, moan. So what's good? Well, there's an art room. As Lorraine the physio said,"'You can't miss it, it's the one that's full of paint." It is too ! The fella who runs it seems like a nice guy, quietly spoken and right into art and stuff. Remember Charlie Higson's animator on The Fast Show? "Then we move his arm - just a tiny amount," - click - "Then we move it again - just a tiny amount," - like that.

Just paused for dinner. Unlike my previous place, grub is et in a communal area. Dunno if this is the intended psychology but it makes me more self-aware; less inclined to shovel food down my gullet as fast as possible or hold the spoon in my mouth because it's easier than putting it down and picking it up again. And I had A CONVERSATION ! WITH ANOTHER PATIENT ! (Sonya, most agreeable). That's pretty much a first. Oh, Word only picked up 'et' as a grammatical error.

There's a really cheap-shit mirror on the wall opposite; totally distorted. In one of the bathrooms, in a corner you can only see if you're sitting on the toilet, in thick red marker is a circle and the word '"here". If I could I'd add "You are". This place is weird enough without all that stuff.

As I'm addressing the Real World, let's talk about e-mail;

(Pause for a night's kip. At some point a quiet fluttering sound came and went; after a while I realised that either side of it was complete silence, something I haven't experienced in six months.)

So, e-mail. I wish I could write replies to all of them; many have come from surprising sources or had surprising content or both. and then there was rorys with no hint of punctuation or capitals but very funny written on the computer machine made me laugh

Hello to Tri, the Sharp(e)s, the bridesmaids, Ali Swaby and Chrissie, of course I remember you. Amanda: 'ckin 'ell, I only heard you were out of action for a couple of weeks, I hope things return to normal. And Kirsty, you're one of the people who surprised me with their insight and yes I do want to hear about going out for cocktails ! Also in this group are Elies, Iwein (sp?), Saskia and Jeroen (think I got that one right). Anyone I've missed out, oops.
Things are looking up today. Last night I wanted a yoghourt to finish off my dinner; I had one in the fridge. I waited for a while outside the kitchen but no staff showed up. There's a clear sign on the door to the effect that it's a STAFF ONLY area, NO PATIENTS, so I wheeled in and extracted the yoghourt. (Word doesn't like that spelling). When I emerged I got caught. "Yes, I know, I'm sorry," I said,"er...can you open this for me ?" Well, in for a penny...

Now, if you have a problem, go to the top, right? Unfortunately I didn't know where the top was; however, it came to me in the form of a bloke called Wayne, the first person to whom I didn't have to explain stuff - he already knew ! From the length of my arm he reckoned I should be 13.5 stone, although I'd be happy with 12; right now I'm a bit over 11, which is better than the 10.5 I weighed in September. All the weight seems to have gone on round my waistline, though, so I look like a warm front on the weather forecast - a line with a bump on it OH BLAH BLAH FUCKING BLAH stop babbling on.

Nurse update: two nights ago, not only were the lights turned off, but - this is choice - I wasn't even on the bed, but sitting in a chair next to it. Seems I moaned to enough people 'cos a warning was issued and last night I was tended to by an exceptionally pleasant nurse. Today it was suggested I move to a different bay where there are more talkers, but I don't want to spend more time wondering where my stuff is.

Cast list: Let me tell you about some of the people here.

Crying guy: You know if he's awake because he'll be crying; not quiet weeping but full-on wailing and howling, and attempts at speech, mostly in Hindi. He's afraid of everything and everyone and, apparently, in genuine pain. What's awful is how quickly I ran out of sympathy; I have enough shit to deal with myself. Now when he wakes up in the night I just wish he'd shut up.

Guy Who Got Fucked: I think he was in a car crash; he's pretty much compos apart from a few memory problems (yesterday he requested sugar with no tea) but his expression when he eats tells a tale; it's a combination of concentration and appalled disbelief at the way his body's betraying him, how his hands just won't do what he tells them to. He must be new to this.

Joe. I've written about him already; I'll cut'n'paste it:

Joe says he's been in hospital nearly two years but apparently his account is unreliable. He fell off a building.
Emma working with Joe:
'Tell me the names of some places you can go to after you leave.'
'The park '' Joe couches his answers in the form of questions because of his uncertainty.
'Yes. Where else?'
'The golf club?'
'Yes, you can visit the golf club. Where else?'
A pause while Emma considers. 'Yes, why not? You can go to Chicago if you want.' You can, too, on Virgin, and stay down the road from a liquor store that 'Caters to Your Spiritual Needs.'
'Where else?'
Joe's about to get wayward. 'Gath?' he suggests.
'What?' asks Emma. I'm intrigued too.
'What's Gath?' Sounds like an Egyptian god to me, or an 80s metal band. I wonder what Joe's explanation will be.
'You know?' he says,'Gath'
'you just made that up,' she tells him.
'Oh, did I?' he asks.
'Yes, that's a word you just made up.'
Joe seems disappointed that he'll be visiting the park and not Gath when he leaves.

I'm getting fed up with this
1300 words so far but I just had an immense result - put on a pair of headphones with this here part-functional left hand ! Not little airline phones either but big-ass springy AKGs which I believe belong to Waterfall's neighbour (is it Roo? Hello.)
Look, I really want to finish this, so I will. I'm OK, I suppose, using my new reference points for acceptability (and inconvenience, boredom, selfishness and so on); this place is quieter, more civilised and the therapy programme is more closely tailored to individual requirements cos there are fewer individuals. And the bit you've all been waiting for - my bowels seem to be sorting themselves out. No enemas in 2004 ! Hurrah ! So more time spent in the bathroom. Boo!

See ya,