The world outside (Stepney – that is) presumably continues unperturbed by me in screaming pain in the London Independent Hospital. As I spend plenty of day two throwing up into strange hat-shaped egg-carton receptacles this is what Charles Saumerez-Smith has to say about one of the cutting edge venues just down the road.
"In documenting the rapid gentrification of Stepney, a landmark was the opening of Dirty Burger on the Mile End Road. It occupies a grand Edwardian building next to the Trinity Almshouses run by Soho House. It is an instant 1950s saloon, complete with light industrial styling, where you can have flagons of Crate ale and superior, but not expensive, burgers."
Day two my daughter Amy arrives with a little suitcase quite early in the morning having just got off a plane from Berlin where she was working. For any of my readers who have tricky teenagers, take note: Amy was the naughtiest, wildest, out of control, argumentative, crazy, hedonistic teenager. I nearly gave her to social services on many occasions. The only thing she never did was stop working. Her school grades were amazing and she reserved all her wildness for weekends and evenings.
On day two or three Roxy, her two year old, came in to my private room like a whirlwind, bombarded me with why this and what that: all the tubes, and weird things you find in hospital bedrooms were questioned and then she noted that actually her knee was far more ouchy than mine. She reminded me so much of Amy! Kit, aged 5, was less interested in the gory details but found the mechanism of the bed going up and down intriguing and suddenly my legs would be shot above my head and my head dangling over the edge of the bed. I loved that visit and for just a nano-second stopped feeling sorry for myself.
My resilience didn’t just decline, it disappeared. I sobbed every time I was asked to do anything, I remember the catheter going in, coming out, the physiotherapists coming in, torturing me, going out, coming back, wheeling me at great speed down the corridor to try walking up steps – and down steps, feeling travel sick, feeling nauseous, feeling dizzy, feeling dirty.
And a woman down the corridor yelling all night, “HELP ME YOU FUCKERS!” (just occurred to me that maybe it was ME. Don’t think so!)
Pre-Op, I said to Mr M:
I have three very supportive, loving children, but they are not to be my carers. I don’t want to go home until I can be completely independent.
Oh, we never send people home until they are independent! Said He!
Bollocks!! How do you make a cup of tea with a crutch in each hand?
I went home on Day Four. My daughters were running around me in circles.
Saumarez Smith, C. (2017) East London. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.