I was going to go to London today with my mother, to take my artistic nephew to the National Gallery. We didn't go, because yesterday evening I got a phone call from my mother saying that my father had had a suspected small stroke, and was being kept in Colchester General stroke unit overnight for observation and tests. By three this afternoon they'd finished the tests, and confirmed that he'd suffered a transient ischaemic attack. Beyond adding aspirin to the panoply of drugs he takes daily and telling him to take it very easy for a few weeks, there wasn't a lot they could do about that, and my mother was told he was ready to come home.
Ready to come home in the sense used by hospitals means medically fit to be discharged, not booted, suited, signed off and ready to go, and we sat for half an hour in a side ward until a very cheerful male nurse came and gave my father his discharge letter and bag of pills. He addressed my father as 'Sir' and spoke to him rather than talking to my mother, which more or less made up for the NHS's cavalier attitude to everyone else's time.
However, it is a mystery to me why Colchester General is laid out without any short stay parking bays near the hospital doors for people collecting frail or elderly patients. I was parked in the furthest part of the main car park, a long walk from the stroke unit for an eighty-two year old who is supposed to be taking it easy. The wind was bitingly cold, which apart from the discomfort makes the platelets in your blood stick together, the last thing you want when you've just had a very small stroke already. We found a side door which visitors collecting patients were permitted to hover by, though not right by the door in case an ambulance needed access, and my parents managed to find me before anyone came and told me to move on. We had the same problem the night I collected them from A&E, but with the prospect of ambulances looming even larger. I grumbled about the lack of pick-up facilities to the Systems Administrator when I got home, who said unkindly that it was Colchester General, so they weren't expecting anyone to leave except in a box.
Meanwhile, the rooster died. He'd been poorly for several weeks, and we were hoping that if some warmer weather came he might pull round. Yesterday he found a little patch of sun to stand in, out of the wind, but by lunchtime today he had quietly died in his chicken house. Poor creature, he was an ineffectual rooster, but he had a kindly nature. We don't know what did for him. The hens have all been in bouncing good health throughout, so it was presumably not any virulent avian infection. We tend to keep very quiet if a chicken is ill, since people are generally not so sympathetic as they would be if were a cat or a dog, but make unfunny jokes about bird flu while inwardly panicking.