As soon as the glass doors whooshed closed behind us, I regretted the fact that I had not packed a cut lunch. On our mission to visit BIL in his hospital room, and show off my new summer frock, less than 30 seconds passed before I realised that the direction signs we had used to find BIL’s ward last weekend had now disappeared. It was even possible that the one arrow that there was no faced the opposite direction!
Twenty steps in, Mr FD and I had a discussion as to whether we took the elevator now or later, and I was right, only to find the hall we had taken previously was now boarded shut.
I spied a ward man approaching so asked him for directions, but he wasn’t sure and he found a fellow ward man, whom instantly we recognised as having assisted us last week. He looked at us with some recognition, because we are unforgettable and I was looking particularly fetching in my new summer frock, and between the two men we were given directions.
Somehow we were misled and found ourselves outside the hospital kitchen. I threw myself upon a woman emerging from behind the kitchen door, and she said though she was unaware herself she thought the tray ladies would know and disappeared on her own mission.
Another ward man appeared and we brought him into our little nation of lost peoples and he was about to try to explain the way to us, when our now regular guide appeared from the end of the hall. I had the sensation that he had followed us, with an expectation of getting his big jollies from finding us lost and bewildered, but I kept my suspicions to myself for the moment.
Mr FD greeted him, “I think you helped us last weekend, but we were trying to find our way out” to which he did not even change his expression and merely replied “I know”.
It was obvious that he was going to recount his explanation, but then he decided, “Follow me, I will show you.” At that he opened a fire door and we exited from the building and into a drive way. Across the road was the emergency entrance.
We followed like meek little sheep, which is not something that comes easily to either Mr FD or moi, scurrying to keep up to his pace. Into the emergency entrance, down another corridor, around two more corners until we came to a green corridor, then into the elevator, which we exited once before the doors even shut to allow a patient in a bed to go up first (manners are an essential around the sick and dying, alas and alack). Back into the elevator up to the sixth floor and back along more corridors, orange this time. The last twenty feet were the only bits that were familiar!
BIL was lying in bed, and Sister and their daughter were sitting beside his bed. BIL is even thinner than he was last week, the outline of his teeth evident through the thinness of his cheeks. His toes so thin I could see the entire length of his toe bones and exactly where they connected with his foot.
Yesterday, he had a day at their daughter’s and he seemed in a good frame of mind, but so thin and obviously still in pain as he asked for pain relief while we were there.
I modelled my new Sunday go to meetin’ dress, not that I go to any Sunday meetings, and my matching pearls, for BIL as I explained that I had dressed to honour him. He appeared to be impressed or it could have been a grimace of pain, but I choose to believe he was suitably impressed. BIL has always been a good audience.
An hour or so later we retraced our steps, but this time we had to do the go up to go down trick in the elevator, and luckily found our way to the main entrance without too much folly because there was no way I was going to ask for directions again. We shared the final elevator ride with a family of four adults who were looking up at the floor numbers as we rode the floors and muttering almost incoherently, “up to the 7th floor and down to the 4th and put the left and right foot in…”
As we exited the hospital I remember thinking that the little ward man would miss me next weekend, because we would be in Hobart and so unable to visit. I hope he can cope.
Hopefully BIL will be able to go home again soon, otherwise I must remember to pack a compass and some emergency flares along with a packed lunch!