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Daisy - Part 4. In which I find her in a side ward

Posted Jan 06 2012 8:19am


In the lift was a dramatic poster announcing that there was a sickness and diarrhoea outbreak in the hospital. "If you have any symptons, please do not return to the hospital for at least 48 hours after they have gone" it warned.

When I got to her bay, no Daisy. I knew she hadn't been sent home as they had intimated she might on my previous visit – I had been round to see her and she wasn't there. I was immediately worried. "Daisy who? Oh, she's in a side ward" said the disconnected admin girl at the nurses' station. My heart sank.

The last time this happened, to a 102 year old friend from my group in another hospital, she got the hospital sickness and diarrhoea infection, which killed her (and she had only gone into the hospital a few days earlier with a bronchial cough). 

I almost tiptoed to the side ward and peeped tentatively around the open door. To my relief, there was Daisy, lying on top of her bed dozing, but not looking like she had the bug. "What are you doing in here then?" I asked as she came to. "Oh I don't know, they never tell me anything."

"How are you feeling?" "Well I'd be a lot better if it wasn't for this dreadful pain down here" she pointed to her lower abdomen... and my shoulder hurts and the painkillers they're giving me for it don't work at all" she complained. "They've just given me a stronger painkiller and now I've got this terrible pain down here. I'm never having one of them again."

"Hmm, I rather doubt that the pain in your groin can be caused by the painkiller they just gave you Daisy, but thinking bout it, what did you have for lunch?" I asked. "But that was hours ago," she replied. "Exactly." I said.

"Well they gave me pasta with a sauce that looked like cat sick. I've never eaten pasta before, and urgh, it was horrible. I never finished it." Daisy winced with the acute pain of wind passing through her system.

Surely, I thought, surely the nutritionists in the hospital kitchen must know about 'bad carbs'... But obviously not. What is it with hospitals, I wondered. Giving a woman of 101 years a highly refined wheat product, the kind of which she might never have eaten before, when it is known to have a bad effect on people with carbohydrate sensitivity... astonishing. 

I stayed with her and did my best to distract her until the pain had died down, which took an hour or so. We spoke about her working days as an expert seamstress and how she'd like to do some knitting but can't because she can't see it well enough and anyway it hurts her shoulder too much. I see this all the time – much of very old age is characterised by Extreme Boredom.

"I bet you won't be eating pasta again in a hurry, eh Daisy," I said as I left to go and ask the nurses to ensure that pasta was off her personal menu." "Not unless Jamie Oliver turns up" came the crisp reply.

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