You know how it is. The days have been reasonable. A blissful uneventful period of stability and quiet confidence. Normality is stable as it is supposed to be. The only spoke was a return to a backache. The last time I had this was in November the 9th, 2015. The date of a packet of six pain killer tablets told me so. I had four left. Over the last few days I took 3 of those and thought it prudent to go to the local public hospital to get another few of those tablets. They really helped last time. I kept this last tablet up my sleeve in case the pain became so bad that walking to the hospital would be out of the question.
We live almost next to not one but two hospitals. One is public, and abutted to it, and part of it is a private hospital. The difference is that the public one is a bit add hoc with all sorts of strange additions cemented on to the original one. It can be a bit of a challenge at first to find ‘Emergency’. Someone has thought of gluing down plastic feet guiding patients to the different sections. There are confusing ramps and doors held open by bricks.
The private hospital is simple, modern and has no odd additions. The brickwork is tuck pointed and there is an outdoor café with a healthy Coke sandwich- board on the pavement. Each hospital have their own parking allotments. The public has Ford trucks, Holden utes and Toyota panel vans. The private have Audis and Mercedes, and whiffs of perfumes and polished shoes.
After showering I took myself to the hospital. It was 11 o’clock and the sky overcast. It had rained but the birds were happy. Lots of screeching white cockatoos. Within minutes triage nurse had taken my particulars including pulse and history. I proudly showed my packet holding still the one Oxycodone tablet dating to 2015. No drug addict here.
‘Please take seat back in the waiting room’, she said, smiling. ‘Doctor will see you SOON.’ The waiting room just had a young girl holding up her hand with her spare hand. Her palm had a bandage. After waiting for two hours I noticed that in the office opposite where I was sitting, there was a coming and going of many nurses. There was a lot of jollity and loud positive laughter.
However, sitting for such a long time took its toll. Previously I would be in and out within an hour. Two hours and just one girl? I went into a convivial and accommodating mood. It must be a few severe cases of ambulances bringing in terminally damaged patients, I thought. Doctors are flat out dealing with damaged ones. What is a backache compared with smashed head and broken bones? Normality doesn’t live in the Casualty departments of hospitals.
After almost three hours I was finally seen to. One of the jolly and laughing nurses asked again the extent of my injuries. She did notice my awkwardness in getting off the chair and limping behind her to yet another chair. I’ll fix you up first she said, and left. She came back with a poly styrene cup with water and a smaller clear plastic cup holding a variety of different shaped tables. I rummaged around the tablets trying to understand what I was supposed to do. ‘Which one do you want me to take?’ There were at least 15 tablets. ‘Take the lot,’ she commanded. ‘What, the lot?’ ‘Yes, she said, they are Nurovan, Panadol, Hedanol, Paracetamol, and some others, take the lot.’ I had trouble fitting them all in my mouth. May I chew them, I mumbled politely?’ ‘Yes, chew them, she said.’ Was this my lunch?
I was so amazed. I felt like leaving a tip. Nurse left after telling me she was going to see doctor for a prescription for the more stronger pain killer. She assured me I would soon be feeling better. I assumed they would be the Oxycodone, as before. But, who should walk in but Helvi, my wife. I thought I was seeing an angel. Turns out she got worried. There was no one in the waiting room. She asked the staff where a Mr Oosterman might be. She was taken to her husband. By the time she got to me all pain had floated and I was flying. I managed to tell her about the cupful of tablets. Almost asked her for a dance.
She too was amazed.