Tuesday 31 August 2021


My new favourite tragic song played by Eva Amaya (my repeated request) on her keyboard is 'Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen'. Louis Armstrong called this 'a little light spiritual'...

It has been quite a month... and I am trying to be good by documenting it here or the month will slide by, as pandemic months have been wont to do. August is my birthday month, and as has become something of a strange tradition, I found myself admitted to Addenbrooke's hospital in the days leading up to my birthday. On the day, from the earliest hours, the nurses kept popping their heads into my side room to check if I was awake so they could wish me, but oh how I love escaping into sleep during those first hospital hours. Dawn heralds the beginning of 'obs', 6am was my first IV antibiotic dose and then morning meds and then breakfast and then... who knows? Further bloods, scans, doctors visiting, but on my birthday morning, a Saturday, I was free to sleep. And I did! So the nurses made me a card instead...

In the afternoon, when I spoke to the siblings in Singapore and Malaysia, Eva produced her full piano repertoire... and as soon as I heard the first notes of the spiritual, I knew this one was mine. Ever since that day, Eva usually humours me with a rendition, even though it is by no means her favourite. She does a mean 'Oh Susanna' which I also love, and 'Ten Little Indians', which has the most horrifying inheritance of black minstrelsy and Native Indian genocide behind it. Eva doesn't know about these things yet. The brutalities of the animal kingdom are as far as the twins understand how justice and injustice play out. 

One day before I started to spike fevers,  Dad had a dramatic episode. He had been listening to the cricket outside the front door, felt a bit hot, come inside and fainted away by the newel post. Mum found him there, later, 'resting' as he casually put it. We tried to sit him up and he sipped at some water before fainting away again. This time, in my arms, and a rather horrible moment it was. Mum rang the paramedics, but by the time they arrived, Pops was very much himself. He charmed the duo, one of whom also commented that judging from old photographs, my mother hadn't aged in thirty years (true) and then, while they were parked outside writing up their report, we three sat at our dining table, drinking sweet masala chai and eating Parle G biscuits, thanking our lucky stars for another escape. Dad's gallbladder sepsis was only last month after all, and I had clearly incurred the mischief of the gods by telling Mum earlier that day, "Take the day off, Ma! Lie down, relax, you've earned it!"

The very next day, I slid into my own little bowl of hell. One morning, while in hospital, my body went into full blown rigours, and it crossed my mind that I was experiencing a form of human torment - I longed for someone to rub my legs which felt frozen, someone to hold my body still as it ricocheted to its own violent rhythm. But short of actually holding me, the nurses and doctors were wonderful. And the new antibiotic prescribed worked its magic to bring me home. But you do see why I would need 'a little light spiritual' after all that, don't you?  

Just to lift that spirit a little further, here is another favourite of mine from my early years of hospital life. At first you think Nina has nothing for you, as tears stream down your cheeks, but then she comes through as only Nina Simone can do, and suddenly We Got Life!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh, my beautiful friend, what a time your wonderful family has had. I am so glad you post so we can stay current with how you are. The world is so crazy I feel many of us are retreating into increasing silence to weather it all. That moment with your father in your arms gve me chills. NO! insisted Old Blue Eyes. So glad he recovered in time to charm the emergency people with his considerable magnetism. The sound of your rigours is awful. I am glad you are safely home. I will email you, as I have been to the city, to my son's hospital bedside. August has not been a kind month, it seems. Stay well.

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