Another Hospital Adventure

Dear Visitor

I have been away. Out of this cyber world you might say, for six weeks or so.

Thereby hangs a tale. I think I might tell it as a way of coming back into your company.

Here it is.

On Father’s Day, September 2, I was sitting in my comfortable chair. I decided to visit my computer in another room. Half way there my body mechanisms started to do funny things. The world moved out of focus and began to rotate. Vision faded to black for a moment. My hammies and quads disconnected themselves and my legs turned into disobedient jelly. Down I went.

I managed to catch hold of a solid support to prevent head injury or other critical damage. My knees were not so lucky. They made me stay on the floor and feel intense pain. I called to my wife for help.

“Darling! I think we have a triple O job here.”

Dear Joan helped me into a chair. We together planned a next move. To my great good fortune she decided to drive me to Ryde Memorial Hospital Emergency Ward. She rang first and they said to bring me in. This she did in her usual calm and competent way.

In the wheelchair provided, I was relieved to have the Emergency Ward supervising nurse invite me ahead of a number of other patients, for attention. 

“Would you like to see a doctor?” she said with a smile. My reply left no doubts.

So I began to share life’s struggles for about two weeks with a moving population. There were three beds in immediate proximity to mine.

I have never felt pain like the pain of that first night at Ryde. All night. Sleep for one hour. Not a minute more. Things improved thanks to the fine care I received, but the damage remained a mystery so I remained in the hospital.

I am so lucky to have had such a place as the Ryde hospital available to me. Such a learning about life experience. Sharing the struggle of existence with a passing parade of fellow humans, some far less fortunate than I am, and in the care of true humanitarian people. The medical professionals there, of every level from doctors to the the diligent cleaners and the dextrous pushers of beds, worked so hard for us patients. I owe them all so much.

Such diagnostic attention too, including X-rays, bone scan, heart tests, blood analysis – all dedicated to accurate diagnosis. The first good outcome was that nothing was broken. Physiotherapy not surgery was to be the solution – hence Royal Rehab was my second destination.

Royal Rehab

What a remarkable sanctuary this was for two weeks!

Wheeled away in farewell from Ryde to the patient transport vehicle, I felt I was leaving important friends. Should I wave as I passed by? How skilful the paramedics were with the mobile bed, strapping me in, comforting comments and the actual driving process!

Royal Rehab: Room 15

Suddenly there I was in a new refuge for my injuries. I was very much dependent on others.  In the early recovery stage you can’t dress yourself. You are incompetent in the shower. It makes you count your previous blessings. The caring, diligent and patient nurses are gifts of the present.

I was helped in so many different ways by Royal Rehab. Constant blood tests, needle pricks, pills to take, blood pressure testing (sitting and standing), putting on tight stockings, support when I walked, including to and from meals, doing up my complicated knee brace that I was to wear at all times save in water.

“The mind has mountains,” said G M Hopkins the poet. In individual ways the nurses lifted my spirits, saved me from giving in, inspired me to think positively and even creatively. The little green help button was constantly there for me. I tried not to be a nuisance but I was saved by it more than once.

Lots of little struggles, for example the wet pants just before dawn that made me cry out to the nurse when she answered my desperate button-press. Such calm, comforting precision with that help! Tears of depression another time, at close of evening. This brought forth a visit from a supportive social worker just one day later.

My MRI test halfway through my stay placed great demands on a nurse to organise a taxi, manage my wheelchair and stay with me as support during the process at another hospital. I will have continuing gratitude for such skill and kindness.

Splendid, healthy meals at Royal Rehab are another source of my gratitude and good fortune. Each day I was personally contacted with tomorrow’s menu. Weight loss and gratitude followed.

Hydrotherapy is another golden memory for me. I was so happy in the water I became known as the singing patient. “The Water is Wide,” “All day I faced the barren waste without the taste of water, cool water,” and similar songs kept popping out of my mouth. The exercises and the person-to-person coaching I won’t easily forget. Somehow the warm, clean water in the hard first few days made the pain less. Spoken kindness and expertise were added to that environment.

The gym activities also lifted my spirits as well as my mobility. I felt needed and supported there, with special benefit from guidance concerning the hard to fit knee brace and the thoughtful gift of a long sleeve to wear under the brace. Memorable and effective kindness.

Encore Rapport

The dedication of all the nurses, their social as well as medical skills, made rapport easy and comfortable for me. In an effort to thank people, I set up a series of little events that the nurses responded to in my room.

At every afternoon Shift Changeover (2.30 – 3.00pm) I “summoned” a meeting for both nursing shifts in Room 15. This is what we did.

Here’s the script for the eleven days.

Meeting 1

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: I want to exercise my right to contribute to a Shift Hand Over discussion. 

My contribution: I want to thank the old shift for the fine work done for my wellbeing. The new shift have a huge task to equal their performance. I feel confident you will do this as all help has been so brilliant.

I want now to read a poem I have written today for the occasion.

The Nurse

When your life touches mine

Even small things turn me

Into something else.

Your subtle deeds

Like a caring glance

Or a smile of acknowledgement

Reap changes that verify my existence.

Meeting 2 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for coming here once more. 

My contribution: I want to advise the new shift that they have a huge task to reach the standard of the first shift, yet somehow I am confident they will.

Now here is a poem for you. I wrote it this morning.

What Would I Do Without You?

Take my own pulse? 

’Twould be deadly.

I would have the wrong numbers to check.

Take my own temp?

Not readily.

‘Twould make all your records a wreck.

Make my own bed in the morning?

Sleepless nights is the warning.

And so I endure my ways.

Because of you alone,

I survive these troublesome days.

Meeting 3 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for coming here today. 

My contribution: Today I want to encourage you about examinations. You are all so busy and if you are studying as well, life can be tense. Remember all is not lost after one failure. I had to wait until I was 28 before i entered university as I did poorly at school. Now I have three degrees and have helped many students get their degrees. Never give up your dreams. Work on and stay cool.

Now here is a poem for you. I wrote it this morning.

Why Do You Hurry So?

Why do you hurry so?

Is the world about to end?

Have all the clocks caught a fever?

Is time full of holes to mend?

Why is your day in a rush with a gush?

Why is your patter a scatter?

Slow down please just once in a while,

And let my eyes feast on a slow-motion smile.

Meeting 4 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for coming here today. 

My contribution: I want to tell you about the world’s rarest disease. It is chrometophobia. What is it? Why, it’s fear of money.

Now here is a poem for you.

Things Here I Don’t Understand

Nurse pressed the blood pressure thing – what ho!

He left the room like a startled doe.

A temperature thing-o was so revealing

His eyes explored the ceiling.

Another nurse saw me as fit to throttle –

I thought that thing was a fresh water bottle.

The last transition was a dreadful condition;

My bed got stuck in the up position.

So you see all these bloopers have drilled me with lead

But I am still cheerful as I am not dead.

Meeting 5 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for coming here today. 

My contribution: I want to talk to you about essay writing. We all have to write essays some time or other. Essays set by teachers or lecturers will always have two clues. One will be TOPIC WORDS that tell you what to write about. The other will be DIRECTIVES (such as compare and contrast, discuss fully with examples, to what extent do you agree, define accurately) that tell you HOW to write about the topic words. If you keep strictly to these parts of the question you chance of success will be greater.

Now here is today’s poem. 

How My Pain Went Away Today

I awoke this morning feeling sad;

The pain in my knees was really bad.

On top of this, to extend my blues,

I next received some dreadful news:

Old Tom, my cat, was dead.

A terrible day to begin in this way,

The trouble put water in my eyes.

Yet, in spite of life’s curses,

I still had the nurses

So skilled in pain’s appeasement.

Their many kind words turned into a flood

That washed all my tears down the easement.

Meeting 6 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome once more. 

My contribution: I have nothing special to say today except that I am beginning to feel all your hard work is working for me.

Now here is another poem.

When I couldn’t Find The Bottle

I was in a mess this morning

And the stop was glottal.

Just before the day was dawning

I couldn’t find the bottle.

Now let me tell you, friend or foe,

This problem was distracting;

It became a tale of woe

With my body interacting.

I stumbled here, I rumbled there,

In hope dramatically searching,

But ’twas no use, I couldn’t find where

That bird of a bottle was perching.

Despair set in and my pulse went up

But no bottle could I find.

The need grew urgent, no joy resurgent,

I was partly out of my mind.

Then all of a sudden I hit on it;

What a joy that trouble to fix!

It was down by the bed that I found it,

With its milk for my morning’s Weet Bix.

Meeting 7 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to you all once more. 

My contribution: Hello. Just thanks today.

Here is today’s poem.

The Magic Pill

They gave me a magic pill today.

It quickly drove all my troubles away.

The pain in my neck disappeared like a fog

And my sudden good health left observers agog.

Away went the pimple perched on my nose,

Replaced by the beauty you would find in a rose.

The cramp that invaded my hammies and quads

Was driven afar without pushes or prods.

The dribble when I nibble also disappeared,

Replaced by decorum that was really quite weird.

What was this pill that the nurses were tasking?

’Twas but a smile that was yours for the asking.

Meeting 8 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to you all once more. 

My contribution: Greetings to you all and thank you for coming.

I’ve just done another poem for you..


I am not a bird

So I cannot fly –

When I look at the sky,

It’s too vast to try.

I am not a horse

So I cannot carry

Heavy loads along life’s course.

At my advanced age

I can almost recall 

All the fun when I used to run.

Now I am poor with so little wealth,

Yet I have one more prize for the shelf:

Today I put on my complex leg-brace

Entirely by myself.

Meeting 9 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to you all once more. 

My contribution: “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Here’s the next poem I’ve done for you.

The Helping Hand

What is that mystery

That abounds with sophistry

And touches the pulse of my soul?

Who can tell

What magic spell

Eases the pain of my days?

I can barely respond

To those who seek

The meaning of the words I speak.

Yet this I can say

In my clumsy way

With words that are frequently bland:

I endure throughout each day

Because of a helping hand.

Meeting 10 (Next Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: You are once again so welcome here.

My contribution: “Words are the most powerful drugs used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling.

Here’s a little poem I wrote this morning.


It is easy to see I comply with the norm;

Each time nurses see me they fill out a form.

To be sure it’s a good way

For management to rate ’em

As they blithely record each ill as a datum.

My headache gets seven; my sore knee gets five;

It’s a message to Heaven that I’m still alive.

How much I respect nurses’ diligent work!

Never a duty do they shirk.

Those numbers of theirs are so realistic,

In the end I’m just grateful to be their statistic.

Meeting 11 (Last Day)

Me: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you so much for being here so many times.

My contribution: This is a remarkable patient-centred place. I want to thank you so much for all that you have done for me.

I finished this poem just in time.


You thought we were parting didn’t you?

Thought that a farewell

Would leave our space blank?

Not so, you should know,

It’s the way friendships grow,

And Memory is the Master of Time.

So where ere you walk

Even though you don’t talk,

You’ll have company

If you think of me.


MEBye now,

Royce (85 and feeling a lot better)

Mirum Hospitium (Remarkable Hospital)

So you wake up to a morning that seems possibly your last because of a frightening dizziness. The world is spinning so you close your eyes to avoid the turmoil. If you get up you’ll fall over so you stay in bed hoping the revolving world will stop. It doesn’t.

You’ve been dehydrated before so maybe water will fix things. You therefore struggle out of bed and blunder off to the kitchen, hands sliding along a hallway wall to help you avoid falling over. Two big glasses of water.

No relief. So you stagger onto an adjustable chair and almost pass out. Your wife finds you there. In conference, you both decide to ring 000.

Remarkably helpful phone service follows. First the ambulance section arranges for a doctor to talk to me on the phone. She checks things out with pertinent questions.

“Are you in pain anywhere?”


“Are your limbs functioning properly with feeling?


I can’t remember the other questions but they made me feel I was  being advised very wisely. Then I was asked to hand the phone to my calm and caring wife to pinpoint the address for the ambulance. I was to stay put and wait.

The paramedics came so quickly to my unit. The date was January 14, 2018. I hope that date brings credit to two fine, professional people.

“Hello,” said one cheerfully at my shoulder. This cheerfulness was magically relaxing to the patient to be.

“That your self-portrait?” he asked jokingly looking at my Frans Hals Laughing Cavalier painting on the wall.

“Every painter paints himself,” I said, “so that is Hals’ self-portrait not mine. A few hundred years out of my time.”

“That your guitar?”


“Do you sing?”


“What songs?”

“Folk mainly.”

Then I sang:    O the summertime is coming

And the trees are sweetly blooming

Where the wild mountain thyme

Grows around the blooming heather

to some considerable applause…

While all this was happening, professional expertise had sprung into action. Blood pressure. Standing blood pressure. Blood test. Other tests I don’t understand.

I was in good hands.

A trip to hospital was decided upon. I walked with help to the ambulance. What a spotless, well equipped vehicle! Comfortable travel bed with my paramedic seated beside me getting details – with driver’s licence help.

What a calm, smooth ride to Ryde Hospital, mirum hospitium! The travel bed smoothly unloaded and I’m wheeled into Emergency. Explanation of case by paramedic to one duty nurse.

Ryde Hospital: January 14, 2018

It is hard to do justice with words to the benefits I received there. Such thorough, caring attention by my second duty nurse. There is a businesslike energy in that place. You can feel the concern for you and you can see it in the eyes of the staff. Care for your comfort. Care for your valuables. Care for your identity. Care for your peace of mind.

My doctor’s thoroughness amazed me. So many tests to check my physical and mental capacity. Such caring and helpful advice. My dearest wife too, who braved the traffic to follow the ambulance, and remember we are both octogenarians, stayed in the ward for the four hours I was required to complete. She was treated with much care and kindness too.

And so the diagnosis was benign vertigo. My doctor and nurse gave me the final walking test. Then home in my dearest wife’s care. All free.

Can you see why I am a fan of Ryde Hospital and the fine paramedics who took me there? Lucky country.

Lucky me!