So, I was put into an ambulance in front of the entire staff of the entire five floors of our building. Just to really rub it in, the one way system around Abbey Street meant that the ambulance had to drive round the building and then, nee-naring happily away, drive past them all again.
I was fairly groggy, having hit my head pretty hard, but when I looked over at GoldenEyes I was shocked. I’ve never seen anyone so pale in all my life, and I realised that she (and probably the rest of the office) thought I was dying.The ambulance girl was testing me all this time, and it was she who was the first person ever to mention that my heart rate was very low, though she did say it might be because of shock. By then we had arrived at the Mater, and got the chance to experience A&E, Irish style.
I hadn’t rung Mrs Tin yet, since I decided that I’d wait till I had more info on what was wrong with me. I knew she’d have to give a reason why she was leaving to the Tinkids, and reckoned having her say “I’m going to see your Dad in the Hospital, I don’t know how bad he is” before driving off would not go well. I also wanted to be able to tell her what ward I was staying in. It was only many hours later that I began to suspect that in fact they weren’t going to keep me in at all.
By then I’d had heart tests, chest and head x-rays, and numerous other tests, all of which seemed to involve having yet another needle stuck into my arm and yet more blood drawn out. I’d been to the loo, but just as I got there I was asked to wait outside while four Gardai, with a fifth one who was handcuffed to a guy in a wheelchair, who was also handcuffed to the chair, went in instead (A&E in the Mater is directly across the road from Mountjoy Prison). At one stage GE and I were just sitting, saying nothing, when an orderly came over with an empty glass jar. “Urine sample”, was all he said. “Is it? It’s very clear,” I answered (I was starting to feel better). “No, I want one,” he said. I looked at GE and sighed. “You can’t say I don’t know how to give a girl a good day out,” I said, standing to head off to the loo again.
When I returned GE had been joined by the HR Fireball, a mad Nordy woman who has since left to work nearer to home and her four young kids (and who I really miss). When I said that it looked as if I might in fact not be admitted HRF was horrified, and kept pointing out my head wound to anyone passing by, and suggesting in a loud Ballymena voice that I might have concussion.
Around this time a young doctor brought me into a room, while the two girls sat outside, one either side of the door. The doctor gave me a 48-hour heart monitor, which had wires taped to my chest that led down to a box that I had to carry around for, well, 48 hours. He then told me I could go home. “What about going back to work?” I asked. And although I had two black eyes, a big bloody (no, literally) bump on my forehead and – by his own admission in giving me the monitor – a possible heart problem, he said “I don’t see why you can’t go back tomorrow”.
Often in films a man will be cut or have blood poured on him before being dropped into a tank of pirhana or sharks, who will then devour him. I achieved much the same effect on the poor doctor (well, I was pissed off by then) by walking out the door and saying to the two girls “he says I can go back to work tomorrow”. I often wonder did he have to get therapy afterwards, after the verbal devouring they gave him.
I finally rang Mrs Tin and she set off to come & drive us all home, & we went back to the waiting room to (obviously) wait for her. By now it was after six, and A&E was full of drunks. One guy was lying across three seats and, when no-one came near him, rolled off onto the floor. One of the attendants walked over. “Come on, Peter,” he said, poking him with a biro, “you know you can’t stay here”. Unfortunately he said this in a Polish accent, and straight away one of the Real Dubs sitting waiting was up in arms, defending a fellow Irishman against this blow-in (who was taking all our jobs – after all, if he wasn’t here Real Dub could have been the one dealing with drunks & mopping up vomit). “You can’t try & move him like that. For all you know he has a serious injury”, said Real Dub, suddenly a health expert. I personally reckoned that the fact that the Polish guy knew Peter’s name probably meant that Peter tried to get a bed this way most evenings (which I later had confirmed to me, they either get admitted or the cops take them & put them in a cell – either way they get to sleep in a warm room), but Real Dub continued to harangue the attendant, demanding immediate treatment for poor afflicted Peter.
Peter somewhat spoiled his argument then by getting up, going out for a cigarette, then coming back in and lying down again.
It was almost worth the whole traumatic day just to see the look on Real Dub’s face.
Will the heart monitor reveal anything? Will Tinman realise that there are only 2 days left till his Pacemaker Birthday and that he has 3 parts left in this series? Find out in Part 5 – “Testing Times”.