I’m woken up by a large Irish woman shaking my arm. “I’m going to put a drip needle in your hand,” she tells me, vigorously rubbing a big blob of anaesthetic-soaked cotton wool across the back of my left fist. “Bit of a scratch,” she warns, sliding the needle in smoothly and fixing it in place with a neat X of tape. I wonder when they stopped saying small prick ? How many years of Benny Hill smirking passed before every NHS employee was told to say scratch ? I reckon it’s about midnight. I go back to sleep.

I’m woken up by a small Englishman shaking my arm. “OK,” he says, “I’ve just got to put this valve in your hand.”
First, though, he removes the needle that’s already in my left hand, taping a pad over the hole, then repeats the whole anaesthetic-scratch procedure on the right.
Why ? I mean, not just why swap sides ? not even why was it done by two different people ? but why was it done at something like two AM ?
I go back to sleep.

I’m woken up by a medium-sized nurse. It’s daylight; staff are coming on shift, saying morning to each other. The nurse plugs a saline drip into my right hand. At least it’s being used.
The next day the valve’s removed, leaving me with matching pads on the back of each hand and a Fritz the Cat question mark over my head.