It’s a funny thing but this time last week I was in South Africa in Pretoria East Hospital sitting with my Dad who was attached to a remarkably noisy array of machines some of which blinked, some gurgled and some which went ‘ding’ like the number 57 bus to Highbury circa 1970.
I suppose ‘funny’ isn’t the right word. There is nothing funny about a father who has VERY nearly died from complications arising from serious infection and multiple myeloma and who is in ICU trying …although so weak he can barely raise his head from the pillow …to signal through his oxygen tube that he wants someone to sneak him a roast beef sandwich past the ward sister. I mean ‘funny’ in the sense that one can be in Cambridge, sighing and huffing at a computer one day and the next in Sub Saharan Africa in an isolation unit without ever actually having to do any walking. Train, airport, plane, airport, hospital. Surreal.
Dad is still in the hospital as I type although now out of ICU and isolation and in the general ward where his jelly and custard is not swabbed for bacteria before it is allowed to his bedside. He has a long hard rehabilitation ahead of him and there are many questions still to be resolved about his health and next treatment but for the moment he is out of danger (unless dying of boredom is a possibility. He was already bored in the ICU! This is one man who would rather take his drip stand fishing then lie still in a hospital bed. I pity the nurses…)
My brother had flown over a couple of days in advance and seen Dad at his worst. At one point Dad, mid rigor and fever spike, had told Ben, slightly urgently, to take the number of Ambassadors Funeral Company from his phone. This is what my dad calls ‘future planning’ …although at least he had the number in his phone I ‘spose. So when I arrived my brother, though wonderfully supported by dad’s mate Adam, had already dealt with a whole load of hoo haa. There was a lot more to come. A lot more which I won’t go into now. You will have to wait for the novel.
My aunt joined us and we spent the week going from Jan Marie’s Bed and Breakfast (which I must tell you ALL to stay at…even if it means diverting your trip to the grim old Pretoria. Mr and Mrs Jan and Marie are the most fabulous couple especially if you arrive in confusion, unable to drive, upset and freaked. They picked us all up from airports and dropped us all daily at hospital never asking for a bean.)
I stayed five days. My benefits were suspended for that time and had I stayed longer there would have been complications. What it is to be the Department of Work and Pensions bitch. Talking of bitches, Grace had to board with our mate Daisy and I, having to resort to my white cane again, was somewhat lopsided without her. But now I am back and my brother is back and this evening my aunt will also fly home leaving Dad to the tender mercies of the nurses and his partner on whom I will not say another word lest it cause the very computer to melt into a smoking bubble of plastic, glass and sparking wiring. Not
Oh and ZAMBIA won the Africa Cup of Nations!!!! Won it! It was phenomenal. The whole country is still dancing.
Oh and I got a place to do a PhD at Bath Spa! I don’t have the finance yet but the place is a start! (yes…I too have the ‘forward planning’ gene of my father.) Will tell you more about it all in the next post.
And that’s enough for this month don’t you think. Holy shit.