A few weeks ago, I wrote about the value and responsibility of keeping registers. As a result of a recent enquiry, I found myself having to try and locate registers in relation to the old Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill, and that sparked off a far distant memory, as my first stint in hospital was in that very establishment. Growing up in Partick, the “Sick Kids”, as it was then known, was just a stone’s throw away. One Sunday afternoon, when I was 4 years of age, I was playing football in the street with my brother and pals, when suddenly, right out of the blue, I doubled up in agony, screaming out with pain, and just about frightened the others to death. My brother ran to tell my father and, within a couple of minutes, he appeared with a big pram, put me into it, and, possibly not wanting to wait for an ambulance, started to push me in haste to the hospital. On arrival I was immediately admitted with, what turned out to be, a burst appendix. I’m not too sure of the time scale, but obviously I had surgery, the appendix was removed, and I can proudly display my scar to this day.
I had to remain in hospital for a couple of weeks, due to fear of infection, and, what I seem to remember most, is that family members, mum and dad, aunts and uncles, and older cousins, who were clearly worried about me, kept coming in and bringing me little gifts, small toys, colouring books, crayons and the like. As I was only ever used to getting modest gifts at Christmas, and even more modest gifts for my birthday, I thought this was great, long may it last. So, you can imagine my great disappointment when, at the time of my discharge, I wasn’t allowed to bring any of the gifts home with me, which I assume had something to do with infection control. Perhaps the matron modelled herself on the late, great Hattie Jacques, who often played that part in the “Carry On” films, in which case there would have been no point in arguing with her. Either way, I came home empty handed, and minus my appendix.
It would be exactly 30 years before I would be in hospital again, this time to have a carbuncle removed from the back of my neck, having contracted a blood infection which affected me for close-on two years. By that time, I was a recently-ordained Passionist priest, based in Saint Mungo’s. The surgery took place in the Royal, and I was administered the Sacrament of the Sick the night before by the legendary chaplain, Father Ambrose Fay C.P. It would then be exactly another 30 years before I was admitted to hospital for surgery again, this time to a clinic in Dublin called the Hermitage, for a partial thyroid removal. On neither of those last two occasions did anyone bring me in any gifts. If the trend continues, I can expect my next hospital stay to be in the year 2046, by which time I will be 94 or 95, so I won’t complain.
Still on a medical note, on Tuesday of this week I had to have an earwax removal procedure, something that I usually have to undergo every 15 months or so. This time around, I started to have the problem last December, but, with the local medical practice no longer offering this service, and with lockdown restrictions in place, I struggled to find somewhere to have it done. I discovered, however, that I was searching in the wrong places, and I came upon an NHS approved practice that had no difficulty in giving me an appointment. I knew from previous experience that, for me, this procedure was never straightforward, but the nurse was brilliant and, with great patience and perseverance, she sent me home with my hearing intact. I couldn’t quite hear the grass grow, but I was surprised at some of the things that sounded so very much louder, the tap-tapping of keys on my computer keyboard; the tick-ticking of the indicators when signalling a right or left turn in the car; the clicking of a light switch being turned on or off and, worst of all, Father Gareth singing in the shower through the wall from me. As he is always saying, he is no Tom Jones, although, he would generally add, that he can’t be so handsome and a good singer at the same time. Thankfully he is in fine form, as are Father Justinian and Father Antony, and we hope all of you are fine too. As always;
protect yourselves; protect your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.