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)

Emergency! A Tale I Want To Tell

Cropped shot of a healthcare worker holding a senior patient's handshttp://
Cropped shot of a healthcare worker holding a senior patient’s hands:


My Tale Is About Angels Without Wings

The human body misbehaves from time to time. Eventually it does this for the last time.

One of the great problems in life is trying to work out whether the latest illness is going to be the last. I am home now after spending three nights in the emergency ward of a Sydney hospital. As you can see, the ailment that put me there was not my last.

Yet that recent place will not leave me. It probably never will. Memories such as these tend to stay.

Here then is the full story . . .

Blood in the urine. Not just a trickle. A flood!

Oops! What’s going on here? Am I on the way out? Will I soon be one of the dear departed?

The blood won’t go away.

Dearest Joan and I agree. It’s triple Oh! time.

The Ambulance Arrives

In they come: two comforting, adept souls through my door. They put their bags down with a cheery greeting. Their presence has a calming effect even though you have just looked at your wall picture of The Laughing Cavalier and wondered whether you will ever see the glint in those eyes again.

The ambulance vehicle is such a surprising sanctuary. The medical and interpersonal skills of my two ‘rescuers’ on the Sunday evening of August 28, in the Parramatta region, are a temporary panacea. My preparation for my hospital treatment is thorough and reassuring!

The journey through the night is smooth. Soon you are there. The Hospital of Ryde.

You are able to walk in…

Will I ever come out of there? Ah well, in we go. Calm down you idiot!

The ambulance paramedics have organised everything. No waiting around for you. Soon your clothes have been replaced by a back to front white thing that you always put on the wrong way.

Soon abed. Your loving wife seated beside you and you are attended by the night nurse.

What has happened to Florence Nightingale? This is a man!

But how skilful and thorough he is! We octogenarians have got to move with the times.

My first doctor makes me feel so comfortable. His thoroughness sends the message that the hands you are in are good. That valve thing is fitted into the back of my hand with intense diligence and care.

Night.  The first bedside bottle comes into use. Time slows down. Gentle hands keep testing your blood pressure.

You are moved considerately to a quieter part of the ward. Sleep creeps up on you.

It doesn’t last long. You’ve got a bit of a pain in the neck because you haven’t realised there is a bed adjustment tool hanging on the rail next to the mattress. Carry on regardless old chap. Be a man.

You notice the nurses gliding past. You are not alone. You relax a lot.

Those angels have no wings, just uniforms. So intensely busy.  Don’t make a nuisance of yourself.  Keep quiet about the sore neck and die in peace.

“Are you warm enough?”

“Yes thank you.”

“Now I just have to take your blood pressure.”

“Thank you.”

The night drifts on. Fitful wakefulness. I use another bottle via the privacy of the curtain.

Fellers of Australia

Blokes and coves and coots

Gird yer bloody loins up

Clean yer bloody boots!
Monday morning’s light.

Suddenly it is intensely bright. Activity is everywhere. There is so much for them to do.

The night shift advises the morning shift through an introduction to me. It is such a caring, friendly introduction (alert eyes and smiles) I start to count my blessings. I’m good at maths.

So the morning evolves. Beehive busyness everywhere around me. I discover the bed-height tool. Ah that’s better. A little more intelligence would have revealed it earlier you idiot.

Time for another bottle. Still a bloody nuisance. I leave it on the mobile table to be picked up.

Just a few minutes later: “Oh nurse I’m so sorry!”

“So sorry! So sorry!”

I have knocked the bottle from the mobile table. Blood etc everywhere on the floor. My neighbours beyond the curtains to my right and left are both suffering aloud and getting necessary attention. I’ve interrupted things terribly. My self assessed IQ plummets.

There is no screaming or fuss from the nurses. The almost empty bottle is picked up. Two large towels are thrown over the contents and begin to soak up the mess.

In a very short time a stoical cleaner arrives with her cart of mops and bottles of cleansing stuff, and sets to work with astonishing energy. No half measures. In the end the floor shines pristinely like a computer generated image of a television commercial. Then comes “Danger Wet Floor” and my inane clumsiness becomes a thing of the past.

On the nurses work – on and on. Careful, unceasing diligence. My full name and date of birth always a requirement before the medicine. Deep gratitude invades every thought I have (for ever I feel). A joy too, to see another inspiring male nurse sharing the task.

Three doctors come to my curtained bed-place that day. Each leaves me feeling better – more relaxed, confident and respectful of their professional wisdom.

The general trend of advice is careful and positive. Infection is suspected and the first remediation by my GP with antibiotics seems wise. Consultations with specialist urologists are organised from another hospital: Royal North Shore, by my non-specialist-urologist Ryde hospital doctors. A CT IPV  scan at this hospital is also scheduled.


That last part of the plan is why I spent the Monday as much an observer as a patient, waiting for the scan machine to be free. That was when the immensity of the task of these hospital staff members was driven home to me.

OK, I was there because of haematuria. But look at the other human possibilities.

I could have been that ninety-year-old man in the bed beside me with apparent plumbing problems like mine, who was on a drip and moaned frequently.

Or the dear lady on the other side of me who was not sure where she was, and whose shrivelled veins over and over refused to allow her tender carers entry with their needles.

Or perhaps the younger lady opposite whose stay was brief after heart attack fears, who left with peace of mind.

Or again the replacement patient next to me whose suspected heart problems were linked to the kidney by his tests.

Or yet again, I might have been the attractive young person who arrived in a wheel chair replacing the patient opposite, and left with somewhat faulty steps soon after.

Or finally, perhaps, the quiet, new patient beside me on my right who did not speak but smiled back as I passed on yet another loo mission.

What a large group in trouble! So many! Troubles so varied!

I shared both the company and thoughts of all but this last patient on that one Monday. We were together, despite our differences in age and gender.  Acquaintances almost forever.  Somehow not strangers.

This feeling of belonging of mine was part of the efficient climate created first in that ambulance and then in that section of the hospital by these remarkable people.


Off to the CT scan. The doctor I met on entering the hospital is back and injects the fluid. The robot orders artificially a few times: “Hold your breath… Breathe.”

The operator is very attentive, skilful, clear and reassuring.

Scan Result: No cause for alarm.

So it’s home I am now. I am watering my plants and they are still alive like me.


This post was something I had to do. I feel so lucky and grateful for the treatment.

As a teacher for fifty years, I have learned that the test of all political education agendas will always be found in the classroom.

A similar model applies to this Emergency Faculty at Ryde Hospital New South Wales. This is a battleground with limited resources for health – not a classroom, but those Emergency beds have for me passed such a rigorous test.

Afterthoughts to end this post…

I Came With Fear And Trembling

I came with fear and trembling
Through an unfrequented door
Wondering if it would be closed
Behind me forever
To my surprise, I found that I had entered
A haven of harmony
Where angels of care and kindness
Danced throughout the night
To the music of hope
And the drumbeats of understanding
That gave my awareness
A marching step
And my dreams a reality that led me back
So soon
So enchantingly soon
Into the old world of peace and sunshine
I was so afraid to lose


With Sincere Respect To Ryde Hospital  September 3, 2016

Parting Words: