… in some strange places, but this evening will be about the strangest. I’m back in Montlucon, back in the hospital and in the casualty department connected up to a couple of pochettes of blood.
This morning I had the usual blood test and at 17:15 I had the phone call. Apparently my blood count has collapsed and it’s down to 7.2, which means that in 4 days I’ve lost 15% of my haemoglobin. There’s no Day Hospital tomorrow (yes, I now know the reason why I have blood tests on Mondays and Thursdays – that’s because the Day Hospital is usually open from Monday to Friday, Bank Holidays excepted of course, and they can call me in the next day if the results are bad) and so it has to be done in Casualty.
And so I rode off into a rather symbolic sunset – symbolic in many senses in that it’s the final sunset of 2015, bringing down the night onto the end of a rather significant year for me, and that I have a rather uncomfortable feeling that it’s bringing down the night onto a significant chapter in my life and that whatever happens to me once a new dawn breaks will be completely different to that which I’ve experienced to date.
Nevertheless, at the Site Ornithologique just outside St Gervais, one of my favourite photography spots, I stopped to take a photo of the sun dipping down under the horizon.
And I wasn’t alone here either. Liz was here too. She was on her way back from the airport at Limoges, having taken her family back for their aeroplane to East Midlands, and she was impressed by the view too. We had a little chat and then I was on my way.
Evening meal for me, my “special treat” for New Year’s Eve, was a large packet of crisps, a packet of biscuits and a banana. There wasn’t any time to prepare any food back at Liz and Terry’s because the hospital wanted me in and out before the midnight rush of drunks began, and so I had to pick up what I could find en route.
At the hospital, I was lucky enough to find a parking space for Caliburn close to the casualty entrance, and once I was inside, I was whisked straight into the casualty ward and prepared for transfusion, with the second-most-painful insertion of a drain. And this is when I discovered that the claim, on the telephone earlier, that “the blood has already been ordered” was somewhat economical with the truth. It didn’t arrive until 21:30 in fact.
And in the meantime, I was in a small room right by the entrance to the Casualty Department. Ambulances, with blue flashing lights and sometimes sirens, were pulling up right outside my window and the electric door into the Department was right next to the door to my room, which was open. Each time I closed my eyes, an ambulance would pull up, the electric door would open, and I’d be wide awake. And then I’d close my eyes again ready to doze off and the procedure would be repeated. And as New Years Eve approached and the stream became a flood, I gave it up as a bad job and asked for a coffee.
Yes, some let the New Year in with a glass of champagne. I let it in with a plastic beaker of coffee.
By 01:30 they had finished with me, and they offered me a bed for the night in the ward at the back of the Casualty Department. I didn’t really feel too much like the drive back to Liz and Terry’s and in any case they would be well asleep by the time that I returned, so I gladly accepted the offer.
And here I’m staying until tomorrow.
Mind you, it’s hardly surprising that I wasn’t up to the drive back. I’d done quite enough driving last night on my nocturnal travels.
I’m not sure now exactly how I started out on my travels but I was definitely in my chocolate-brown Cortina 2000E, TNY143M, that has featured quite a few times just recently on my nocturnal voyages and I’m not sure why. But as our story unfolds, there was a huge argument in a car park that abutted, albeit about 20 feet higher up, onto the street where I was parked. It concerned some kind of illicit behaviour involving a taxi company or two, something that would be of great interest to me of course, being in the taxi business, and a girl was having a huge argument with the driver of a big black saloon car parked on the edge of this car park. The net result of this argument was that she grabbed hold of the driver’s briefcase and flung it high into the air. The case landed at my feet with the papers scattered everywhere so I quickly gathered up the papers, half-expecting the driver to come charging down the bank after his possessions. Instead, he got into his car and cleared off quickly leaving me holding all of the evidence, which would make good reading in the taxi licensing office. I walked back up the hill to the pizza place on the corner of the main road and ordered, inexplicably, a chicken pizza. While it was being prepared, I reckoned that I had better go and recover the Cortina and bring it up outside the pizza place where I could keep a better eye on it and its contents. So back in the pizza place and the server asked me if I wanted ham and some other meat on it – they hadn’t even finished preparing it, never mind cooked it. I had a feeling that this would go on for ever and I didn’t have the time to spare.
So never mind – I’d planned to go to the cinema that evening but I could go earlier and I could watch the film twice. But this meant going on the bus so off I went. And at the end of the first showing, it meant going back on the bus again, doing a round trip and then back to the cinema. And here on the bus this time around I met a girl, someone who had made a couple of cameo appearances in my travels during the autumn. The bus took us on a guided tour of the town and stopped at a big desolate area of waste land, with the driver telling us that this was formerly the old medieval centre of the town which had been demolished and a modern town centre built elsewhere. We were being asked all kinds of quiz questions about street names and the like too.
After the cinema I took this girl home with me, which I realised too late was probably not a good thing to do, because before going out I’d emptied out the van and having nowhere to store the stuff, I’d stacked it, all kinds of rubbish too, into the living room so there was hardly anywhere to sit. My Aunt Doreen (she who hanged herself almost 20 years ago) had been there and so I asked the girl if she would write a note of appreciation to Doreen. However, we couldn’t find a single blank page in any of the notebooks in which we looked. Clearly we weren’t doing so well here. I also asked someone else, who was present at the time, to take out a pile of vehicle hubcaps and dump them in the bin, but then I had a change of mind, thinking that they all might come in useful at some time.
From here I drove back to the family pile in Shavington, followed by my father and my brother (no idea how come they have appeared on my travels). And near the top of Gresty Bank before the corner where Dubberley’s farm used to be, in the road in the southbound lane was a woman with a trestle table doing the washing up. We had to wait until she had finished but she took so long to arrange her crockery that I emptied her washing-up bowl for her. However, the woman in the car immediately behind me was so close that I couldn’t reverse my car enough to go around this obstacle, so the car and I had to duck under the table.
Back at the family pile, I was horrified to see not only the state of the place but the fact that the house was stinking hot with the electric heating going full blast – so hot in fact that all of the windows had been opened despite the heaters being on. There was so much waste and untidiness (and the untidiness must have been bad if it upset me) that I reckoned that my father would be appalled when he arrived. But it was my brother who appeared first, so I challenged him about it, but he replied that our father wouldn’t be coming – he had gone elsewhere. In the hallway there was cat food all over the place but he said that it was the fault of my cat, who wouldn’t eat any of it.
The alarm went off at this point and after a few minutes spent gathering my wits (it doesn’t take very long as there aren’t too many of those) I came downstairs to wait for the nurse and the prise de sang.
Once he had gone, I could have breakfast but I’d run out of muesli so I had to borrow some of Terry’s. And then we had the confusion as all of our visitors prepared to leave. I had a few big hugs, which was nice as I don’t have too many of those these days, and it goes without saying that Strawberry Moose had quite a few too.
Once everyone had left, Terry and I had a coffee and a relax and then I went off to St Gervais with a shopping list from Liz. I try my best to do some shopping here once a week – it’s the least that I can do to recompense Liz and Terry for all of the effort they are making in looking after me. Mind you, I did manage to buy the wrong milk and so I rather blotted my copy-book here.
Vegan cheese on toast for lunch (I’m becoming quite partial to this these days) and then I sat down to alternately have a little doze, drink a coffee and to continue to write up my notes from my voyage around Canada in the Autumn.
And this was when I received “the call” …