Fiona’s dad looks pretty terrible when they finally wheel him back from surgery. He was rushed into hospital last Monday for an unspecified ailment and in a lot of pain. Turns out he’s got a prolapsed disk between two vertebrae. But that’s not the worst bit: he’s also got some sort of infection in his joints. By the time Friday came around his elbow looked like he was trying to shoplift a basketball under the skin. Not surprisingly both Peggy – AKA The MOTHER IN LAW – and She Who Must are very worried.
It’s taken the surgeons at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, an hour longer than they said it would, though no one seems prepared to say why. And it looks like they've stolen Gordon’s teeth as well. But that doesn’t stop him giving us a big, gummy grin at five past nine at night, before he slips off into painkiller-induced slumber.
The next morning, he’s a bit more animated, but not much. The physiotherapists are all off underarm wrestling or something, because it’s the weekend. And so are the path lab, which means no one really has any idea what’s actually gone wrong with She Who Must’s dad. But they’ve got him on a vast array of antibiotics, some of which are so damn big he has to eat them with a knife and fork. And making him eat stewed rhubarb. I’m not sure if the rhubarb’s part of the cure, or just because the NHS cooks are sadists. But either the antibiotics or the rhubarb are beginning to make a real difference. He can almost lift a half-full glass of lemonade now. Which is more than he could on Wednesday.
Gordon – as he likes to be called (because it’s his name) – has always been very, very active. It’s weird seeing him this weak. This is the man who helped me rip out my kitchen, till there was nothing left – not even a ceiling, then put it all back together again so it didn’t look like shit. He was a joiner with Fife Council for God knows how many years. And he’s got to get better soon, or I’m never going to get the bathroom done.
By the time Sunday comes round they’ve got him sitting up in a chair. All day. From about ten in the morning till eight at night. Which is a hell of a long time when you can barely move your arms, let alone your whole body. When visiting hours start at three he’s still in the same position the nurses put him in five hours earlier. But there’s not a word of complaint from Gordon. I whinge and moan when I have a particularly loud sneeze, never mind a prolapsed disk and mystery joint infection. But then he did National Service. Went out to Cyprus with a full head of hair and all his own teeth. Came back bald as a coot with a set of military assault dentures. Ah yes, the army makes a man of you.
He’s feeling a lot more spry, even if he can’t move more than a couple of centimetres on his own. I think Scotland beating the French rugby team that afternoon probably has something to do with it. As did a screw-up with the meals last night: he was supposed to get salad and ended up with steak. So it’s a good job they’ve found his teeth again.
With any luck we’ll get a phone call late tonight when Peggy gets back from the hospital letting us know how the Ninewells Physiotherapy Armpit Wrestling Eleven got on.
The only downside is that while we were off spending the weekend sleeping on a carnivorous sofa bed, visiting Gordon and making sure Peggy was fed, watered and let out to go to the toilet, Googling Brother and SIL Kim were popping up to Casa MacBride to do the same for Grendel, and for some idiotic reason we’ve offered to baby sit wee Rowan as a thank you. I’ve never had to change a nappy in my life, and I was kinda hoping I could keep it that way.