Posts Tagged ‘Emergency’

The lure of the past and a bed pan.

June 28, 2020

There might be nothing more exciting or upsetting when visiting the past. Over the last three days it happened almost by accident of an emergency. You know that when all has been so settled, quiet and serene for a long while, a suspicion seems to well up that this peace can’t last.


Our street and house in Balmain where we lived 1976-1996

Sure enough, I received a message that told me in a few crisp lines, that text messages always seem to excel in, but none the less almost always are disconcerting, that my daughter had deposited herself in an Hospital emergency room. ‘Chest pain’, was part of this short text! Of course, the reaction was a trip to Sydney the day after. I had organised the house in such a way to leave our dog Milo an exit in case of toilet visits by placing a stick behind the sliding door, leaving an opening big enough for Milo but not for a robber, no matter how agile or elastic he or she might be.

My daughter after arrival was in the emergency ward and suitable wired up to all sorts of equipment, occasionally a beep would be expelled from one of those machines. I noticed with pride that some of that equipment had Philips as the manufacturer. It is still a Dutch company that originally started out by making light bulbs. It is now a multinational conglomerate employing 80 000 people world-wide


A closer look at the house.

After visiting my daughter and consuming a delicious toasted cheese and ham sandwich for my breakfast and getting the daughter to keep asking the doctor for more information, I left when her son visited her as well.  She had chest pain but a quick scan and blood pressure test, proved that her heart was alright. A great relief. The bed allows only limited number of people to sit on and the chair was nowhere to be seen or perhaps used in the bed next to my daughter, which was screened off. I saw a bedpan being carried away covered by a cloth. Always a sign one is in good hands. I remember them well from my occasional forays in hospital.

I decided to visit our old house and street where we live so happily for twenty years.  After all, I was back in Sydney. They were really the years that our three children grew up from toddlers to adults. The street has lost none of its charms. The suburb of Balmain is now a millionaires’ nest, hounded by big time foreign currency option dealers,  lawyers and well heeled liberal provocateurs.


The entrance to our old house.

Amazingly one of my friends that I met here recently in Bowral lived in the same street at the same time when we lived there. Another friend in the same group grew up just around the corner as well. Such coincidences that are so baffling.


Our veranda with me and the red heeler cattle dog, around 1990 or so.


This picture is of the street taken yesterday, still charming.

I visited my Daughter again today, and all is well. She might be coming home tomorrow.She was worried about her cats more than about me. But then, I am just a dad.

What an amazing life this has been so far, and still ongoing!




Hospital and an Oxycodone led recovery.

February 28, 2017




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.

Shelves for the Men’s shed.

March 11, 2014
The men's shed

The men’s shed

With my foray into men’s sheds I decided, as a warm up, to try and install shelving in my garage. I would get to use an electric drill, chisels, an electric saw and a hammer. Above all, it would give me an opportunity to get the feel of being in ‘a shed’. A man’s dream come true. I would get saw dust in my hair and dirt under my finger nails. H. would be so proud of me. All that staring at a computer screen has made me lose sight of the real essentials of life. Making things happen with my hands. I would regain my real inner self, my proud manhood. I’ll be beating my hairy chest once again. Like I used to.

I found my tape measure and wrote down the timber length needed for the shelving. The shelving would fit between brick piers of the garage wall. I needed to find space to store the tools needed to build the shelving. I know this sounds a bit circular but a man needs shelving to store his tools needed to build the shelving. No cost would be spared. I would use cedar wood all dressed to a butter smooth finish. My chisels, electric tools and hammer would feel nicely cared for, even after I have gone.

Last week during a ferocious hail storm twister, a huge branch of a Manchurian tree broke. It fell across the driveway hitting the roofs of the opposite town-houses. Someone must have called the Emergency Rescue squad even though no one was actually pinned down under the tree. A few sturdy men in fluoro jackets turned up very quickly.

They had large lettering printed on the back of their jackets indicating their status as Rescue experts. They wore helmets and ear-muffs. They carried and exuded authority and a large chainsaw. In little time the fallen tree was cut into small pieces and dragged away from the drive-way. They would have extremely proud wives and partners. Have I missed my vocation? I too could have been a chainsaw carrying emergency Rescuer. Instead, I am nothing but a fiddler in a shed building shelves to store tools to build shelves.

Even so, no good fretting and regretting of what could have been. I could just as easily have ended up sleeping rough or living a life without a hammer. I drove to the Home timber yard and had 6 cedar shelves cut. They measured 1020 mm long by 190mm wide.

I remember reading of a man who built his own coffin. He put this coffin in his lounge room. He did not want anyone else to be responsible for his own death. He felt that at least he could ‘own’ his own death.

The storm

The storm

He also built the two trestles that the coffin was resting on. Truly a diligent man. I have rarely heard anything even close to someone having that kind of foresight. I can well imagining him waking up each morning satisfied that ‘all was now in order’. Perhaps he even tried it out occasionally. Perhaps while watching TV or listening to a Mozart concert. There too would have been saw dust on the floor and dirt under his fingers.

He had found himself.

Emergency Hospital; Give me your Sample, please!

January 3, 2013


Emergency Hospital; “Give me your sample in this jar, please”…

Getting old is not half as painful as knowing to have been young. The boy on his skate board turns and swivels in mid air and manically loop de loops and survives smiling. After seventy though, a slightly twisted wrong move to pick up a pepper-cracker and some Stilton cheese from the oak coffee table can result next day in a visit to the Hospital’s Emergency Department. That’s what it means to get old.  Ah youth, I remember it so well.

The Triage nurse takes temperature, blood pressure; both Systolic and Diastolic are just fine, with both eye and verbal response pretty well orientated. “Oh fuck, my back, my back.” I can’t sit down, oh, oh fuck, dear fuck.

“You could have a kidney mall function,” the smiling triage nurse announced optimistically and looked deep into my troubled eyes, while handing me a little jar. It had a yellow lid and I became instantly suspicious. “No, not here,” she said. “Give me your urine sample, please, I’ll show you were.” She took me to a toilet and left me closing the door behind her. I somehow thought the word ‘please’ added a rather nice touch to the hospital visit. It took my mind of the pain which was on the left side of my middle back. I peed (carefully) in the little jar and tightened the lid firmly. I did not want any embarrassing leakages back with nurse. I finished the rest (copiously) in the toilet bowl

There is nothing like a hospital visit to get things in perspective. I thought it rather wonderful and uplifting I could still pee in a jar on demand. ‘Things are not that crook,’ consoling myself. I confirmed that during my entire life the ability to direct a stream of piss had never once faltered. Perhaps, from now on, I should take nothing for granted anymore. Stop being so cocky, heaven knows how much longer that directional skill and ability will survive? Some women are jealous of us men.

After handing the still warm jar back to the nurse, she guided me back to the waiting room, “doctor will see you soon,” she added still smiling. The waiting room had only five waiting for treatment, two women with bandaged feet, a couple of large men in thongs and shorts and a very pale looking man with a cap on and wearing very tight dark jeans. He looked tense and was biting a ball point pen. He had a certain mien about him. He had seen better days.

In Hospital Emergency they have tightened security. Since I was there last with a bout of pneumonia, instead of an open window for the new patients to pass their health or pension cards through, they now installed a very narrow opening of just about 7 centimeters…Heaven knows, with crack-ice and all those new lethal meth- drug mixtures what kind of maniacal people front up at the front desk. You would have to admire staff for putting up with so much stress caused by chemicals and people gone haywire. The days of people with ingrown corns, a broken arm or a bit of a pulled muscle at casualty have turned into glassing, knifings, cut off ear lobes, and other horrors of abject violence fanned by drugs and booze. No wonder one sees some staff sitting outside puffing a well earned ciggie. Lucky, I was early and the knifings had not yet started.

A doctor with an Indian name saw me after the ‘sample’ was analyzed. No, kidneys were not the problem he assured me. He left again and after a long period came back with an envelope and a prescription for Panadeine forte. I expected at least an x-ray or some kind of examination. The envelope contained a referral to my own doctor. I was referred to as having a ‘back muscle’ problem. I walked out past the Emergency waiting room which still had the pale man and the two large men waiting for something to happen. I wondered what sort of lives those people all had. I suppose they all have ‘sorts of lives’. Just like all of us.

I hobbled home just around the corner and past the skate board riders, some in mid air. Boundless energy and acrobatic youthfulness. A couple of girls were hanging around sipping from plastic bottles. Some boys reached newer heights somersaulting on bikes as well as skateboards. All biding time. They too will visit Emergency Hospital, sooner or later.