Damon Hill, Doctor Kildare and me – By Rosemary Bach-Holzer

This morning, due to lack of energy and a complete disregard for the creative process (I’m currently up a gum tree with my gumshoe) I sat down (well, laid down) to watch some old videos.

I’m not a fan of DVDs – so shoot me – neither is Ninja, my cat. She can’t eject them from the machine with the same infinite ease she can a video. So, there was I, watching The Diverse Works of Shakespeare and Science Special: The Physics of Ultrasound as one does… what do you mean, absolutely! All right, in between episodes from The Love Boat and House Doctor, an orchestra began to play and lovely though it was it brought back some scary memories of eighteen months ago…

Going to sleep while in the background the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is softly playing is a pleasant enough way of entering the land of nod, except, despite what sounded like the woodwind section gearing up for its climax it was far from pleasing and it woke me up with a start. I nearly passed out all over again and thinking about it… I wish I had.

Where was I? Not in the circle at the Royal Albert Hall, that’s for sure. I was in hospital. Why? I’d fainted but had the good sense to do this while in the confines of my doctor’s surgery. Down I went doing my best impression of a slippery eel extremely thankful I was wearing trousers and not my red tartan filibeg and hold-ups at the time. I came round to discover my ex-husband (in an attempt to reacquaint me with a vertical stance) was dragging me round reception by my elbow and if that wasn’t bad enough a complete stranger was doing the same thing to me on the other side.

Was this an attempt to help me gain consciousness or were they deliberately attempting to scuff my new faux but-looks-just-like-the-real-thing suede boots. How much rough and tumble can recently acquired footwear take? Like they were carrying out a market research or something. The receptionist, meanwhile, aghast at the crumpled and untidy mess on her floor, pole-vaulted herself from behind her desk in record-breaking speed to crouch down in front of me like a frog. Clicking her fingers two inches from my face.

“Mrs Bach-Holzer? Mrs Bach-Holzer?” Click. Click. Crouch. “Wake up, Mrs Bach-Holzer. Answer me.” Click.

No chance, the barely conscious part of my brain tittered. You have got to be joking, and then I passed out again.

I was floating. I was dead. It’s all over – I was dead! Can’t be. I felt far too heavy and earthbound. My pall-bearers come heroes having got bored with scuffing my boots were now carrying my limp body (and per the doctor’s orders) straight into a little room which held a narrow bed, a surplus supply of toilet roll and some scary-looking chrome instruments. And there I was deposited. And I was conscious. Just. It was almost impossible to keep my eyelids open because someone had swapped them with concrete, so I didn’t, much to the frustration of my doctor who wanted to shine a light in them. Eventually he managed (being the professional he is) satisfied himself I wasn’t about to expire or throw a fit (as in either epileptic or drama queen) mumbled something, exited from the room and shut the door.

I was alone. Alone with my thoughts, jumbled up like a kaleidoscope… well, not quite because my pall-bearer was in the supply cupboard with me grasping my precious (Pearce Fionda -designed exclusively for Debenhams) winter coat like it was a bundle of dirty washing on its way to the dry cleaners.

Not much was said. Talking was a non-event because along with my eyelids my mouth had been soldered together and my brain, if I’m being honest, was somewhere else. Australia, I think. I could tell what ex-husband was thinking, that this makes a pleasant change. Ten minutes later a screech of brakes indicated my ride had arrived. Two handsome young men in uniform suddenly appeared (it wasn’t Damon Hill then) and wheeled me aboard (handsome? hmm… this fainting business has its positive side) and off we went. Ex-husband was left to make his own way during which time I spent the entire journey mumbling to myself and in some sort of primitive survival instinct clutching an appendage belonging to the man in the ambulance with the suction power of a baby at the breast.

The gentle swaying motion stopped. A blast of freezing air covered my face along with the fingers on my right hand (the only visible parts of me) as the doors to the ambulance were flung open. I was barely through the side entrance en route to the not-sure-where-to-put-them-so-let’s-dump-them-here-for-the-moment ward, when some pen-pusher pounced upon me and with a well-timed growl courtesy from the bloke in the ambulance… had he always walked with a limp? I certainly hope so. The pen-pusher disappeared as quickly as he’d appeared. Which brings me back to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Six hours later, after having been prodded, poked and x-rayed along with every sample known to man having been taken, I was wheeled into a room that held two other occupants. Our combined ages came to nearly 208 and we were all as bedridden as each other.

“Hello,” one said. “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been ill for weeks and this morning I fainted.”
“You don’t belong here, not in here with us.”
“Why not?”
“You’re too young for one thing.”
“At forty-seven? Believe me, Isabelle, you probably have better coordination and more energy in your eighties than I had in my mid-thirties, never mind now.”
“Why’s that then, ducky?”
“I have acute anaemia and ME and a secondary illness due to complications from the anaemia and ME.”
“You have a cute what? You have to speak up, my hearing come and goes that’s why I’m here. They’re running tests. Don’t mind though, sexy young thing looks like Doctor Kildare.”

Shouldn’t be in there with them? I’m too young? Not if I can remember who Doctor Kildare is and I do.

However, as pleasant as my octogenarian room-mates were, come evening, the noises that were to emanate from their general direction would drive me to despair. By three o’clock the following morning, I was painfully staggering off with a shuffle and a quick step not looking like Bruce Forsyth to find a shoulder on which to weep and plead my case for a single room.

No single rooms available, I’m afraid, the nurse told me. We have only three and they’re already taken. People in there are dying, she conveyed in a serious tone and then added cheerfully, although, one might be free by the day after tomorrow.

Dying? That’s tragic, I agreed, absolutely terrible. Could take a while, though. Hadn’t they heard of euthanasia? I needed sleep! I was desperate for rest. My body was screaming for simple solitude. Quiet. Sleep. Rest. While in hospital? Impossible.

What was I to do? And what was I doing there in the first place? What was wrong with me? I mean, besides everything else. Was I destined to listen to not the woodwind section for the rest of my life? Help!

Does assistance arrive in time before Rosemary throws caution to the wind grabs an oboe and decides to join in? What does ex-husband make of it all? What’s he doing there in the first place? Will we ever find out? No! Not unless she writes a sequel…

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Rosemary is a published writer and author and has been published in various magazines.

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