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Thursday 5 December 2013
So How Is Charlotte Doing?
A guest blog post on a visit to Charlotte, from her friend, Erica:
I got a phone call from Charlotte – she was feeling well enough to chat and she was up for a short visit from a friend. And she is, as always, fabulous, and her smile greets you from the door and lights up the room.
The last few weeks have been grim; you can tell, by some of what she tells and by a bit of what you can just imagine – pain and suffering is not good for the soul no matter how great the promise of operative redemption or how practiced and heartfelt the care. Charlotte’s operation scars are, however, beautifully crafted – the surgeons have done a wondrous job, and they have made an incredible difference; but (and we knew there would be a but) there is post op recovery, and an arm that is still a work in progress to relieve the swelling and with scope, and hope, for further improvement.
Charlotte has not been altogether happy – not, I don’t believe, because of the hospital or its staff, who I can testify from having met some of them yesterday, are both state of the art and very caring, but because she has been having a rough time with this part of treatment, necessary as it has been. Team Charlotte is doing a great job, but hospital is hospital – it has its routines and its tedium, and being prodded and poked and hooked up and given instructions and kept in one place is not really fun – especially when you are unwell.
Charlotte has a lovely room in a light and airy ward overlooking farmland (not quite comparable with her own bedroom view, admittedly, but, all things considered, not at all bad). Her bed is a joy to behold – it all but sings and dances as it moves its pockets of air around to keep a patient more comfortable than is probably humanly possibly. Admittedly, the NHS chair next to it is the ugliest of the breed that I have ever seen, and I would not want to spend a great deal of time in its company either, but I suppose it does a job, after a fashion, albeit with a lot less panache and comfort than its more glamorous confrère, the bed. Charlotte’s ward is practically space age – it occupies a “zone” rather than an old-fashioned floor number - but some of the neighbours, more familiarly, pop by to have a chat (and there is a code - knocking on the bathroom wall signifies if someone is “in” to callers). The Basildon warmth, felt from the moment of arrival when bonding with fellow car park hopefuls in the miniscule car park, is enough to warm the cockles, and a far cry from the cat and mouse game played in my local hospital as we stalk spaces and attempt to outwit each other in getting to them first. Parking is, Charlotte assures, the first talking point of anyone who comes to visit. Followed by tomatoes (about which no more, please, says Charlotte).
We talked about plans afoot to get Charlotte “sprung” to Suffolk – hospital if necessary, home if at all possible - but, in any case, home turf to make it easier on day release and close family and further planning. We talked of the relief that she is feeling better - better than the day before or the one before that - and we giggled about many things (not just the parking and the fact that she is now a published author). I won’t divulge all our subjects but we (Charlotte, an(other) elegant sister in law, and I) covered a fair amount of ground, starting with her surgeon’s sense of humour and ranging from the refit of crittal windows with unforeseeable consequences, through the inadvisability of adopting Inspector Clouseau accents for spoken French GCSE exams, and the perils of hiring too small cars in Italy (and how one chooses a driver in such circumstances), to the dusting down of the Christmas decorations. We gasped and marvelled and laughed and chatted, as is our wont, and it was a joy.
I left much earlier than I wanted – not only frightened of tiring Charlotte - who seemed on top form and verging on indefatigable (although I know that she isn’t) - but also of approaching the Dartford Bridge, as a Dartford crossing virgin, once darkness had fallen. Charlotte, if you are reading, not only is the bridge not even slightly difficult to navigate, the sun setting on the far side of it as the lights from the crossing traffic snaked over it was a beauty to behold – if only my fingers had not been quite so tightly gripped to the steering wheel, I might have been able to capture a picture of it for you. All in all, a wonderful day - and Charlotte is doing great.