In Hospital

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

I am just back from over ten days in hospital, whisked away in an ambulance to the astonishment of neighbours. After one day in a six-bed ward, I was transferred to my own spacious room with a washing basin. One wall is entirely of glass and gives me a view of the hospital dumping yard – mostly old air conditioning machines as far as I can see and, just beyond some faceless concrete buildings, are the wings of a solitary wind turbine and a glimpse of green hills beyond. It could be worse. There is plenty of light and the skyscape is always varied. No rain, not even a shower. The temperature is pleasant enough, so all in all I’m not complaining. I have even been offered TV but have declined. We are entering the ‘silly season’ of summer repeats and I can do without them. A book is better.

It seems that I have a stone in my gall bladder and there may have to be an operation to remove it at the end of July, which means postponing all summer plans to travel to Italy. Maybe I shall be able to go there at the end of August, so I keep hoping.

Everything is catered for here in hospital except trivia. I keep on returning to a mental image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza travelling over the vast plains of Estremadura in central Spain. Why am I thinking of than bizarre couple? It is because I need a toothpick and in hospital it is unobtainable. Henceforth I shall keep a travel bag ready with brush and comb, toothbrush and paste, any pills required, spectacles if needed and a magnifying glass in case I feel like reading all that is written about the medicine in minute letters, and toothpicks!

Don Quixote, besotted by the idea of his own nobility, would keep a toothpick in a prominent position on his hat band for all to see that he had eaten well, which was sadly not the truth. Travelling some years ago over those same endless plains of stones and a few narrow paved roads with my aunt and the driver of what seemed to be the only vehicle for miles around, we were overcome by a different basic necessity. No habitation. No bushes or clumps of trees. Nothing. Our driver nonchalantly wandered off on one side of the road to contemplate the landscape and relieve himself. We were left wondering whether we could shelter behind the vehicle, but the driver soon returned to his post. So all we could do was to wander away and then sit down to look for pretty stones…

However, while in hospital I did have a strange hallucination – to be recounted.

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