The paramedic eyed our straightest staircase with horror.

“If we go around the house, there are fewer steps,” I ventured.

We went off to explore this route, while the ambulance driver focused on turning the vehicle around, knocking over the lighting on the driveway as he did so.

Eventually we exited the house through one of the bedrooms. Keen to reassure the patient, strapped to the stretcher, Marios, the paramedic, said,

“This part is very dangerous. But don’t worry Mrs Lennon.”

He and I took the front end of the stretcher. A couple of times he let me bear the weight while he helped his colleague at the other end. A clever tactic to make me feel useful, I’m sure. Eventually, the Chuckle Brothers and I got Margaret into the ambulance. I picked up the hypodermic needle that had fallen to the floor and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Accident and Emergency

As I entered the Accident and Emergency department from the car park, I met the stretcher coming in from the other side.

Margaret was pale.

“Marios tells me, this is the worst A&E in Europe.”

I made a note to talk to Marios about his over-sharing problem.

We were seen promptly and courteously.

“You need to see an Orthopaedic surgeon.” The A&E Doctor look harassed and tired.

“I know.”

“But they’re upstairs.”

“You have lifts?” I was trying to keep my tone neutral.

“But you can only see Orthopaedics, in the morning. You should come back then.” Dr Stress said.

Disappointing, I felt. “My wife can’t walk, can’t sit or travel in a car. How do I get her home?”


“Ambulance? Had you seen the journey here, you wouldn’t say that. How do we come back?”


“Three ambulances in 15 hours? Would it not be easier just to take her upstairs?”

“There are no beds.”

The Mediterranean

Ultimately, we whistled up a private ambulance and had Margaret admitted to the clinic that, if she could travel, she would have come to as an outpatient. It was half past nine at night.

“Insurance details, please.”

“We’re self-insured.”

Brows were furrowed.

I explained that I had phoned ahead and was happy to pay the medical costs.

“Right. Off we go.”

“Off we go where?” I asked, suspicious.

“CT scan.”

How the other (medical) half live.

After the scan, Margaret was admitted into a room in the surgical ward. Her roomie is an 83 year old who has just had a new knee. They prattle away at each other. I’m not sure that not sharing a common language is any impediment. Several nurses are in and out of the room constantly.

That night, for the first time in a week, Margaret was in good medical hands.

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