I was going to celebrate last night with friends – a bit prematurely I know but I wanted to have fun down the pub if I got the all clear from the hospital.
Well, I didn’t get that, as you may know.
It was a friend’s birthday, everyone I know from this quirky, great little town was going so, I thought, what the hell!
So good going out after all this time, the first pub visit for over three months.
I was frightened that it would all be too much – crowds, talking, standing up, moving my head too much, even just getting tired. Maybe it was a mistake.
It wasn’t it was fun.
No alcohol of course – it is still not allowed. So a pretend beer, non-alcoholic but with a grown-up taste, it looked near enough like the real thing. Near enough, with the company, the atmosphere, to make me feel, well almost, drunk and, then, better.
A good test too. How am I doing, three months in from that near fatal moment?
Not that changed, yay!
I could show off my newly acquired stammer…someone kindly said it made me sound intelligent.
I had moments when my mind went blank..sometimes when I was talking sometimes when it was others. Luckily they were on the booze so I don’t think they noticed.
But mostly, it was just as if nothing had happened.
Maybe I am, like the doctor said, a miracle patient.
Probably not – miracles only really happen in books. In the “good book” of course they are everywhere.
Jesus, a good man, whatever your beliefs or non-beliefs, comes across as a first class miracle worker. Those lucky blindmen, cripples, epileptics, dead people, who crossed his path found new life just in the touch of his hand.
Not sure about any of that myself but the first of his miracles is the most attractive.
That wedding where the wine ran out, now that is a human story that humanises him. Maybe he was one of us after all.
Ok, I don’t really go along with the raising of Lazarus or any of the others but I can see how a few drinks with friends can work miracles.
It may have done so last night.
Who can say? All I know is that it helped.
Somehow, it is human contact that sees you through these moments of insecurity, anxiety and, yes, fear.
So the friendly atmosphere of the local pub reminded me that the other world waiting for me, the hospital, is not that far removed.
In both environments I have felt protected, encouraged and, most importantly, part of a human chain.
I was reminded of my last stay in hospital, not always happy, pain-free or hope-filled.
It was as good though, as I could have expected coming back from a state of unconsciousness, through a period of confusion, into the dawning of a new reality.
Testing my brain, not wanting to let it drift, I thought I would write a poem, right there on the ward.
I don’t say it is good, skillful or profound but it pushed my mind, helped me find my words again and, incidently expressed my gratitude to the medical team for their work, care and encouragement:
Every orifice offered up;
Every vein object of vampiric attention;
No internal organ free from scrutiny;
No flesh too private for examination.
All bodily fluids test-tubed and analysed.
The whole body reduced to chemistry –
Biopsied, measured, graphed, discussed.
A case history, an occupied bed, a statistic.
So patiently lie there –
Recipient of care, concern, dedication,
No mere anatomy, you.
The passive half of that profound symbol
of man’s humanity to man.
This reminds me of a friend of my parents, a long time ago, who wrote poetry, mostly after a few whiskies and now, I fear, long lost in the way of these things.
His one great success, printed in a monthly magazine, and much repeated over the lunch table, too often repeated in truth. It might have been, if I could remember it, a tribute to the power of friendship and pubs. Lets pretend it was, OK.
It is worth remembering, maybe, just for its title: Ode On A Beermat. I should have written one last night.