Pumpkin scone sale on Kokoda Track
Notes from an ASOPA diary

A backward step in a life of progress

Lister Hospital   

London, Thursday: It’s my body and I’ll be miserable if I want to. They discharged me from Chelsea’s Lister Hospital today. ‘Regatta’ had docked at Dover early Wednesday (through a Pethedine haze after a week of spinal agony I glimpsed the White Cliffs from our cabin window – they’re grey). At the time I was bedbound, cabinbound and – as things transpired – also bound for the haus sik.

For me it was a day of dubious firsts. First time in wheelchair. First time in stretcher. First time in ambulance [in the lead role, that is: I accompanied Phil ‘Time for Mouth to Mouth’ Charley once to Royal Prince Alfred]. The solicitous Kent Ambulance Service paramedic told me that, in his previous role in the British Army, he’d ministered to Rudolf Hess in Spandau. Which diverted my attention from a spasming back for a short while.

What else? Oh, yes. First time thrown out of hospital (thank you National Health Service). At Ashford Accident & Emergency, extreme agony and an inability to get off the floor do not qualify as quite sick enough. The Nazis got better treatment in Spandau. Ah, nearly forgot, first time to stump up £3,600 in advance for admission to an institution anywhere. But at least I got an MRI.

It was the scan of my lower back that I’d been doggedly pursuing across south-east England. And it was finally made available (for a price, as you’ve observed and will no doubt remind me of) at the Lister Hospital [pictured above] splendidly overlooking the Thames – although it was hard to appreciate the view crawling round the floor seeking a body position to minimise my propensity to chew skirting boards into sawdust. [Historical observation: the hospital was named after Joseph Lister, who promoted the sterile surgery I thought I was about to put to the test.]

Anyway. Now you can relax. The denouement was a let down. No slipped disc; albeit a highly tormented one that managed to compress nerves, turn muscles into knuckles, buckle the body and temporarily send a long planned holiday into freefall. It could have been more awful, though. I could have also had piles.

Highlight of the day? (Please go to the Channel 9 website right now if you’re easily offended.) A Bulgarian nurse in Ashford A & E slipping a delicately rubber gloved finger between my buttocks, asking me to squeeze and pronouncing that the squeeze was powerful enough to take an MRI scan totally off the agenda.

Yes, dear reader, there is still some residual power in this poor, frail body; backward bending though it may be. Better news tomorrow, I hope. May I just put in a plea that, after all this agony and indignity, IAG won't quibble about the insurance.



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Colin Huggins

Keith - I for one know what you are going through. My God, the cost! I think I'd consider the unmentionable. So far with my back I have gone now 14 weeks without pain, but have been told it will be worse when it recurs - lovely thought?

Hope you are OK for the long journey back to Oz on the plane. I hardly survived the flight back to Brisbane from Canberra and had visions getting close to Brisbane of me being taken off the plane on a stretcher - another 15 minutes stuck on that seat and a stretcher it would have been. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Huggibear Col

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