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*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Travellerģ Resource

#66: A Caring Community

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue.

I write from the Surgical High Care Ward of Queen Alexandra Hospital (better known to Travellers as Princess Iphigenia). Thatís one step down from intensive care. I should have been shipped off to a normal ward days ago. In fact, I shouldnít still be here at all. Initial briefings talked about ď3-5 daysĒ. * In fact, I was there three weeks in the end Tomorrow will be two weeks.* From which you can perhaps tell that things have gone much more slowly, and unpleasantly, than expected. Apparently, Iím not exceptional, but Iím definitely getting into ďroll 2 on 2d6Ē territory at least and I watch others come and go from the ward of ten beds, like a tide Iím not part of. Todayís one of the first days Iíve actually managed to sit up and write, as despite being bored out of my mind, Iíve felt too low physically to do anything and far too woolly mentally to concentrate on anything. Even reading. You can perhaps imagine my usually non-stop personality finding that difficult. Perhaps itís good to switch off.

Itís been hard to convey even to friends and family just how rough things have been. My boss was messaging me for sickness forms three days after the operation when I was barely even able to speak to the nurses about my immediate needs. Constant vomiting for a week or more, pain across my intestines despite a multitude of pain killers, and the awkwardness, discomfort or in some cases pain from the variety of things plugged into me Ė either putting stuff into me or taking stuff out. Sleep is almost impossible and even on a Ďgoodí night I barely manage four hours. None of them consecutive. So that adds to the fun and bleariness.

What I have learned is that your intestines donít like being handled. Apparently, I have a paralytic ileus which refuses to wake up and even now means eating even a small bite is rather painful. Their various measurements suggest a gradual improvement but gradual here means one of those world population charts back in 300AD, not more recently.

Another thing Iíve learned and really appreciated however is the concern of the Traveller community. Whether itís those supporting me by not stressing about my participation in their games, those sending material to read or listen to (and not minding if I canít respond), or one enterprising referee who managed yesterday to not only find out what hospital I was in but get through to the ward on an external line and briefly bring some cheer from the outside world. Thatís above and beyond the call of duty but very kind.

I canít recommend this experience to anyone Ė the cure really does seem worse than the complaint Ė especially if I have to have a Ďreversalí in a few months time which might kick things off again, but the good news is that it means I may yet have a few years more Travelling in me and will be excited to do it in the company of such a caring community.