Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
“How d’you feel this morning, Mrs Cameron?” asked the consultant.
“Like shit, what about you?”
“Me? I’m fine thank you.”
“I’m glad one of us is, when can I go home.”
“When your breathing is better and some of the muck comes off your chest.”
“Why can’t that be done at home?”
“Because we happen to do it better in here. As soon as you’re a better girl, you can go home to hubby.”
“Is it usual to patronise your social superiors?” I challenged.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You heard me.”
“Yes but I’ve never had a chest patient with delusions of grandeur before.”
“No it’s usually restricted to hospital consultants, isn’t it?”
“Oh we did get out of bed the wrong side, this morning didn’t we?”
“No, I’m pissed off with being talked down to by men who think they’re superior.” I could feel my colour rising.
“Madam, if that isn’t too patronising, I am a hospital consultant, who are you who’s so superior to me.”
The ward sister whispered something in his ear. “I see, so you’re married to a banker.”
“Ahem, Dr Carlton, not just any banker, this is Lady Cameron who’s a member of the Cameron banking family, as in High St Banks.”
“She’s a university lecturer and quite wealthy in her own right.”
“I think your colleague is trying to tell you to treat me with some respect, not patronise me.”
“Lady whatever, you are my patient and therefore...”
I didn’t wait for him to finish, “Get him out of here, call me a taxi, I’m leaving here now.”
“Don’t be foolish,” he said loudly.
“Why not, you’ve managed being one all your life.”
“I beg your pardon.” He looked apoplectic.
“I am leaving, so in other words you’re sacked from my case.”
“I’m afraid the system doesn’t work like that. You can’t leave like that, you silly woman.”
“Watch me, and if you call me silly once more I’ll put in such a complaint that you’ll be retraining for the rest of your career.”
“You’d have to justify it.”
“I think being an arsehole, is grounds for the first complaint.” As I said this the ward sister turned away trying to stifle a laugh.
“I refuse to discharge you, your illness has obviously turned your mind.” He stormed off the ward followed by his entourage.
“If that man comes within fifty feet of me again, I’ll slap a restraining order on him,” I wheezed and coughed.
“Fit to go home are we?” asked the sister.
“I’d rather die there than in here.”
“He is pompous but he’s a good doctor.”
“I don’t care if he’s the only doctor in Christendom who can treat me, he’s not talking like that to me. I am discharging myself. Please call me a cab.”
“I would urge you to consider, Lady Cameron. Let me call your husband.” She walked off briskly to her office.
I sat hunched over the bed, fighting for my breath. “’Ere, you really a lady?” asked the woman from across the ward.
I couldn’t reply except by nodding, I could hardly breathe. Then suddenly I couldn’t breathe at all. A sense of panic came over me as my chest seemed to become solid and I attempted to suck air into it with no success. I felt the room swimming and I fell back on the bed and everything became distant.
I don’t know how long it was before I became aware of someone standing over me. I was in intensive care again, maybe we should sponsor a bed at the rate our family finds itself in here.
“Phew, thank God, I thought I’d lost you, babes.”
“What happened?” I croaked weakly.
“You went into respiratory failure.”
“Like an asthma attack, they shot you so full of adrenalin you won’t be shocked by anything for about two hundred years.”
“I don’t understand,” my voice was barely louder than a whisper.
“Me neither, but apparently your argument with the doctor caused you to require more oxygen than your lungs can provide and it all went into a sort of spasm, least your diaphragm did. That’s what they told me. Oh by the way the guy you told off saved your life.”
“I’ll have to apologise.”
“I’ve done it for you and sent him a case of claret, seemed to ease his ruffled feathers somewhat.”
“You bought him off?”
“Yeah, but he was relatively cheap.”
“He was an arsehole.”
“He still is, but he saved my wife so I can live with it.”
“Can’t you transfer me to a private hospital?”
“Not yet, you’re too ill.”
“Nonense,” I said as loudly as I could and fell back breathless onto the bed.
“See what I mean.”
“Just take me home and let me die then.”
“Don’t be silly, Cathy.”
“That’s how I feel,” I whispered. I closed my eyes and for a moment he thought I’d died, except the incessant beeping of the machine should have told him otherwise.
“You don’t seriously want to die do you?”
“I can’t live like this,” I whispered—I didn’t have the breath to speak any louder and I was on oxygen.
“Time for your tablets,” said the nurse who interrupted us.
“I don’t want them.”
“Please, Cathy, take them because it makes my life so much easier than if I have to force them up your arse, because believe me, I will.” The look she gave me showed she meant it.
I picked up the little pot with them in, “What are they?”
“One’s an antibiotic, one’s a steroid, one’s a...”
“A steroid? I don’t want steroids.”
“Just take the bloody thing—we are so busy here—I don’t really care whether you want them or not.”
“Take them, babes, I’m sure they wouldn’t prescribe them if you didn’t need them.”
“Look, Cathy,” said the nurse bending right over me, “Do me a favour. Die on someone else’s shift, not mine, okay—so take the bloody pills.” She handed me a glass of water and I swallowed the pills and the water. “There; what was so hard about that?”
“Nothing,” I croaked and then vomited them back up and not deliberately, “Sorry.”
She had to change me and the bed, giving me a dish to chuck up into if I had any more to give. I apologised and she shook her head. “It’s okay, it’s one of those days. Now try and keep these down, will you?”
I swallowed the second lot of pills and this time they stayed down and I fell asleep with Simon sitting next to me holding on to my hand as if he was frightened I’d run away. I suppose he was worried I might actually die.
Dr Carlton arrived, “Can we declare a truce until you’re actually well enough to leave here without suing me?”
“I’m sorry about that earlier.” I felt myself blushing.
“Okay, Lady Cameron, I presume this is your husband, Lord Cameron?”
“Call me, Simon,” my treacherous husband held out his hand.
“Arthur,” offered the consultant who then winked at Si and said poker face to me, “But it’s Dr Carlton to you, Lady Cameron.”
I picked up the tissue I’d been holding and waved it, “I surrender.”
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