Ann Gamble


The private ward in the Constantia Medi-Clinic. Everything was coldly impersonal, clinical and sanitised. The bed was narrow and surrounded by medical paraphernalia, depersonalised. She had insisted that the nurses put all the bouquets of flowers and get well cards outside her ward as she felt too distressed, seeing the cheerful flowers sadly in need of water.

Her bedside table was littered with thermometers; half finished glasses of water; a temperature chart with the name of her attending orthopaedic surgeon scrawled across the top. There was nothing personal to identify her as being a mother or dog owner, not even a book. She was too upset to read. And nothing could relieve her extreme boredom.

One leg was suspended in the air by traction pulleys, next to the bedside. Hooked on clamps were two plastic bags, one of urine the other of blood. Attached to her arm was an intravenous plasma drip. Drawn and grey, her face displayed the pain she was in.

She was in a semi-sitting position, bolstered up by pillows, and the upper half of the bed jacked up.

The doctor entered and said, “Good evening, so, how are you doing?”

“Oh fine-fine, but I do feel rather clogged up!”

The doctor’s ruddy cheeks glowed healthy and pink. He was dressed jauntily in a sporty tracksuit, ideal for walking his dogs in the forest, it being the weekend. His expression was that of someone who had been merely passing through and had to pop in and out of a sense of duty. He eyed the door as if he wished to get this over with as soon as possible, “Good-good, nice to see you’re so cheerful. Excellent.”

“No, not really. I said I felt constipated. I really don’t feel that well. Can’t you give me something to loosen me up?”

He half listened to her responses and spoke in a clipped, distracted manner.
“ Well you can’t really feel anything other that that, what with your lack of mobility…”

“No doctor, I haven’t had a motion in days and I’m being operated on tomorrow. I need to go to the toilet.”

He had edged his way closer to the door. She had to be very firm if she wanted to get any attention at all. He fidgeted with the change in his pocket and cast his eyes at his wrist watch. “Oh, very well. I’ll ask the sister in charge to give you a pink lady. That’ll do the trick. But you must eat. I hear you are refusing starch. Potatoes knit bones. Eat what they bring you please.”

“ Oh, I thought with the lack of exercise I would put on weight. I’ll eat the potatoes. Otherwise I suppose I’m as good as can be expected. Do you think they could wash my hair?”

He patted her knee as if she were good dog, and flashed a dismissive smile at her as he moved towards the exit. She did not want to let him go and reached out her arm to delay him.

“They are very busy, the nurses, ask the sister in charge.” He slipped out of the room.