There was no natural light in the ward, and the few windows that they did have in the room were frosted, concealing the outside world. The beds were so close together that the patients could probably all hold hands. The first patient, who my boyfriend and I laid eyes on, was a lady who was in the bed to the right of me. Wearing her backless gown with confidence, she would circulate the ward with sociable ease; chatting with the other patients, and helping them by pouring water and getting them tissues. This lady had the biggest pair of knickers on; the skin coloured kind you see hanging up in town markets. From the top of her knickers emerged the line of her bottom which seemed to carry on all the way up to her shoulder blades! My poor boyfriend didn’t know where to look! Then there was the old lady who sat opposite me. Her name was Ana. She was 97 years old – I know this because the nurses kept shouting conversation at her – I think she must’ve been quite deaf. Ana spent her days sitting in her chair with her head moving from side to side in some kind of uncomfortable looking spasm. When her family came to visit though, she appeared to transform into a much more independent and happy woman. Her visitors also never shouted at her, and seemed to converse with her effortlessly, something I found curious. I spent three days on this ward, with patients coming and others replacing them. The sociable lady in the bed next to me, left after one day, in a big floral dress, waving happily goodbye to the short term friends she had made. Her replacement was a very ill looking guy, who was probably in his early thirties. As soon as he was in his bed, he was connected to lots of bottles of fluids and medicines. The whole time he was there, he had someone by his side; his mum who sat on a chair and knitted throughout the night, and a younger girl, who may have been his girlfriend.
My first night was a sleepless one. The nurse’s station was in the ward, so there was always a light left on, and quiet chattering from the staff. A chorus of snoring also filled the room, and at various intervals there was the clinking of glass bottles, as IVs were changed. In the early hours of the morning, I got up to go to the toilet, but found it was being cleaned. I waited, but started to feel unsteady on my feet, so used the men’s toilet instead. When I came out, I proceeded to walk past the nurse’s station, back to my bed. After only a few steps, my legs started to wobble and I was feeling really hot. My heart was beating strongly and breathing became difficult. Everything around me started to blur, like when children mix poster paints together on paper. I started to tell the nurse at the station, that I didn’t feel well. Soon after, I was falling.