Ode to Joy

Apart from Su who came to see me twice a day, a few friends came to visit me while I was in QMH. They brought reading materials, food and most important of all, love and laughter. I went down to the coffee shop with some of them and we had a great time. A friend came off visiting hours and in a hurry, so much so he lost his smart phone which was only slightly used, in the taxi. He reported that to the Police post at QMH afterwards, but he never expected he would see it again. Then I emailed or sent messages from my iPhone or through Su to cancel the many appointments for that week. Some recipients called or emailed back while others relayed messages to other friends, as a result of which I was still receiving get-well phone calls yesterday, which was rather nice. Then of course, I had responses to the letters I posted on my website, and as usual, they are interesting and tale-telling.

Two of my visitors were surprised and upset that I was placed in an open ward even though I was entitled to something better as a retired civil servant. When they visited me, I explained to them the overcrowding at QMH, but they held the view that I was not fairly treated. Unbeknown to me, they moaned to a common friend in high place. Interestingly enough, this friend had just come off the chair of a rather high power QMH committee. Nevertheless, he tried his residual positional power to talk to somebody in the management the upshot of which was that I had a visitor mid morning on my third day in the hospital. The visitor was in uniform and had a rather senior and benign bearing. He was on his cell phone talking to a colleague when he stepped in. He presently flipped my medical records and had obviously noticed that the Ward Manager had provisionally indicated that I could be discharged later in the day. As soon as he put away his phone, he apologized for talking on the phone before greeting me, adding that his phone was running out of battery so that he had to finish that rather important call from his supervisor. He said he had been detailed to look into my request to move to a private ward and went on to explain that because wards K21 and K20 were under renovation, accommodation was very tight and a queue for private wards had developed, such that in the scheme of things, I could not be moved to one until six days later. I thanked him for the visit. I then suggested that he would probably have noticed that I was due to leave the hospital shortly anyway, adding that if I were to return six days later, I would probably be in rather serious situations, something to which I would not be looking forward at all. He appeared relieved and went on to small chats. He first congratulated me that my fever had left, and went on to advise me that I should take more exercise, lose some weight and take care of my essential hypertension. I thanked him and he left happily. A few days later, I emailed this friend to thank him for causing the slight kafuffle. We discussed the inevitable decline in services to retirees but noted that the Hospital Authority had probably had its plate full.

I was about to have lunch when Su came, followed by more visitors. Su brought my favourite soup as I gave her a sitrep. We went down to the coffee shop with the visitors and before we knew, it was time to return to the ward. I began to pack so that Su could take back most of the stuff that I won’t need. She stayed for a bit longer until the staff reminded us that visiting hour was over.

Such indeed is what one needs to put up with staying in an open ward. At K21, visitors can come and go anytime until midnight, and even beyond if necessary, which was what happened when Rosita was there. I reached an understanding with the children to ensure that one of us would be there from 7am to midnight in the ward, not that any one of us could help Rosita a lot. In the last ten days or so, we hired a nurse to accompany her through the night. She would massage her back and limbs and attend to her personal needs generally. When I forgot to tell the nurse the day Rosita was gone, she turned up in the evening. I knew about it because the hospital called me. It all seems not very long ago. I had not returned to K21 since; and I don’t think I would look forward to that, which was why I was not exactly enthusiastic to get a ward there this time round.

The rest of the day was not particularly eventful. NB2 slept like a baby most of the time while NB3 tried hard to convince the nurses and medics that he was fit as a fiddle. (For more on NB2 and NB3, please go to Letter No. 118.) He developed a theory for his temporary unconsciousness: he said his wife had a habit of sleeping on his arm which tended to cause numbness in the muscle – it happened a couple of times before but he corrected the situation in time because he was still awake on those occasions – and which in turn could have caused local restriction in blood circulation, leading to reduced oxygen intake and finally temporary unconsciousness. What an interesting theory indeed! And the moral of it could be: sleeping on the limbs of your spouse could be hazardous to health, the health of the spouse; and a corollary to that could be: don’t sleep too close to your spouse.

Later that afternoon, I asked Dr. Ngan when I could leave. He reassured me that I could leave before sundown, but not before they took more blood samples from me. I had no problem with that; and I left as soon as Su came to visit me. We went through the routine of checking out and collected the prescribed antibiotics, as we thanked God for being together once more.

I was in the mood of humming Beethoven’s Pastoral or his Ode to Joy, two of my favourite pieces. As it happens, today marks the anniversary of his birth. The world had a record that Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on 17 December 1770, but apparently his birth certificate was no where to be found; and because babies were often baptized at birth those days, the world now traditionally took this day to be the great musician’s birthday.

I hope to talk to you soon, on something else.

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