Lessons From my Hospital Bed: One

Happiness strategies
3 May 2023

It was embarrassing!

It was my daughter’s twenty-first birthday party, and she had requested afternoon tea for all the “grown-ups.” It was a full house and things were going well with sandwiches and scones.

It came time for the cake and champagne. We’d found several bottles of champagne lurking at the bottom of the wine rack: a couple of them with very good labels. Accordingly, we opened these first.

Oh dear! We had not realised that Champagne does not keep. Everyone was very nice about it, but the champagne was undrinkable! Fortunately, the lesser labels turned out to be perfectly fine, and her health was duly drunk.

This lesson was forcibly brought home to me a week later.

Following my previous stay in hospital, I had been sent home with a course of steroids and a schedule of outpatient visits to receive an immune suppressant and iron infusions.

Things were going well, I thought; I was gradually regaining my strength.  Then I came off the steroids and all the symptoms came back. Within three weeks I was right back where I had been: white, shaking with fatigue, breathless and with my heart pounding from even the slightest exertion. Even just climbing the stairs was a considered decision.

Back into hospital again, where a look inside showed that the immune suppressants had not worked. There had been no healing; I was still severely ill.

I was put into a single bedded room. The room had not originally been intended to have a bed: it had been a store cupboard. There was no window and no ventilation. I was connected to the world outside only by a very small skylight high up in the roof. I could see daylight, hear the rain on the glass and the rooks cawing in the tall trees in the hospital grounds. I began to feel like a prisoner.

When you are alone, apart from the nursing and meal rounds, you get a lot of time to think. One thing I had to think about was the fact that I might not get better. I might never be able to do all the things I had planned. Most of all, I might not be able to walk the Salt Path – the path around the Southwest Coastal Path – something I had wanted to do for the past thirty years. At last, I had the time, but I might not ever have the health. Exactly like the champagne, some dreams do not keep.

I know you will all have heard this lesson before, but I don’t want you, like me, to learn it the hard way. 

Drink the champagne now. Take that holiday you’ve always wanted. Use your best china and wear your best clothes.

As a French Colleague of mine commented, when asked, as a stylist about the English habit of saving things for “Best;” “Oh, yes – when the English die, they leave a lot of good clothes!”

Don’t wait, do everything you can right now, because there is no guarantee of tomorrow.


A Moodscope member

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