45. Hospital Flashback – Journal Entry 7th Jan 1980

It has been raining for the past forty-eight hours; well almost. The Australorp chooks are drenched. The wind is strong. As usual, the front verandah is a bit wet, with fine rain blowing onto the books and papers. The louvres can’t be tightly shut. Also, water is seeping down the walls of the verandah. A good day for tidying the house and cutting bottles for tumblers.

The family went to the Kavlon Theatre last night to see two Terence Hill/Bud Spencer movies. Too much slapstick, with baddies and goodies smashing stores and hitting each other with bottles. Boring to us but the others seemed to have enjoyed them. The cinema was packed.

Today I should like to get the following done:

  1. Pay the bills
  2. Type the letter to Marcie
  3. Do some algebra
  4. Finish networks to get onto SEARCH
  5. Cook some curries

List of items for Canberra:

  • Jeans 2 or 3
  • Tops 2 or 3
  • Skirt, black embroidered + blue
  • 2 saris and blouses
  • 1 cardigan
  • Swimsuit?
  • Lungi
  • Toothbrush, hairbrush
  • Toe-rings
  • Notepad, pencils
  • Algebra?
  • Handbag

What to look for in Canberra:

  • Outline of Social Anthropology Studies
  • Bibliography on Aboriginal studies; esp urban
  • Spices
  • Granite pestle and mortar for Gran
  • Turkish delight
  • Present for Monika

Muchlater

17th Jul 1979

A lovely new biro and a new pad. Ward 13, Room E, just after a meal of Shephard’s pie made of mince and large chunks of meat. Wish I’d bought a bottle of chilli sauce. The noise of the crockery being washed is deafening, such loud crashes and the domestic aid handles them with a stern face and tight lips. I sat next to a short square woman in a blue chenille dressing gown. Her mouth is misshapen. Most likely it is a mild paralysis or stroke. Her specs are as thick as old-fashioned soda water bottles. Perhaps my tastes have changed since last here and now I’m more choosy or more observant. The tea tastes grey and weak, the bread tastes grey and dry, and even the potato and lentil soup tastes grey. This is food produced in vast quantities with no care or love. The pie was fairly tasty though. One patient was on a special diet and was given her pudding first instead of the main course. She plastered it with Worcestershire sauce before she realised it was custard and not scrambled egg.

Back in the ward. I’ve got a bed near a window and Rocky is slowly putting on its lights.

Funny type of conversation going on. There are three people, each determined to tell the others the story of her life. One woman had a particularly hard life with seven kids from five pregnancies: one has had a kidney out, two attend opportunity school, one has a hearing aid and two were in an accident recently.

I’m going to do some sums, this is very boring.

At the dinner table, most of the women claimed to like Kamahl.

19th Jul 1979

Yesterday was an exceptionally long day. We were asked to wash in Phisohex at noon and get dressed in ‘theatre clothes’. These were a grey cotton top, open at the back, and the most awkward crumpled grey cotton tie-on underpants. At two, the woman of the seven pregnancies was taken away for a full hysterectomy. At 3:15 pm it was my turn, fortunately for a very minor operation.

A jolly young bearded man wheeled the trolley into the ward and said, “Who’s next?”
I echoed, “Who’s next?”
He pointed dramatically at me, paused and said loudly, “YOU.”
So I said, “Surely not.”
“You’re Gita aren’t you..?”
He smiled. “Then it’s you.”
He went into his litany in a sing-song voice, “Any nail polish? Wooden leg, false eyelashes, teeth, glass eye, jewellery?”
“Oh well, we have the genuine article,” he concluded and asked me to hop on the stretcher.

I climbed on and was taken to a nurse and to get my medical file. Some slight delay as the nurse has lost a patient. Besides, I haven’t been given an injection to keep me quiet and I’m glad of it. We proceeded to move out of the nurse’s room and towards the lift where the wardsman trotted out his next stock joke: “This lift is not working, so I’m going to have to take you down the stairs.”

We went through the door leading to the operating theatre. There is a very long narrow white corridor in front of me as we glide through. Men stood in front of some of the doors, white-gowned and capped. The women were in purple. The light was strange, almost disco-like without the flashes. Everything had a T.V. science fiction look about it – a Dr Who feeling – except these people could have been baddies. The timid could have very well wrecked their nervous system. What price must one pay to cure one’s ills, especially minor ones? A large white-clad attendant dwarfed the wardsman and me.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.
  • The hospital visit was written in the journal after the 7th Jan 1980 entry and has been included here as a flashback.

28. Lack of Gumption – Journal Entry 5th Dec 1978

A crisis – a serious one; I don’t think I’ll be doing a preliminary course in Maths – too many instances of lack of gumption and stamina for Johnny to ignore. He doesn’t want known dropouts on the test course. Will have to make new plans for 1979.

On the way in to the hospital I did a random mental review of all the things I attempted and failed to finish or see through, the list is long and goes back a long long way.

So what conclusions to draw?

What direction to take?

Where should I start examining myself?

Let’s take a look at what is on at the moment:

  1. House: 6 to 9; 11 to 12; 4:30 to 7:30pm, +(9) about 30 to 60 minutes a day
  2. Family: includes 18, 17
  3. Cookbook: not yet started revision
  4. Journal: irregular
  5. Computing: taking off very slowly
  6. Candles ?
  7. Glass-cutting ?
  8. Sewing ?
  9. Gardening/chooks
  10. M.O.W and
  11. MATTARA 1 hr a week
  12. Reading: Zen, DH Lawrence, Van Gulik (spend 2-3 hrs)
  13. Market ?
  14. Craft (will drop)
  15. Tuckshop – 60 to 90 minutes a week
  16. Entertainment for Johnny’s friends – 1 ½ days once a fortnight on average
  17. Soon: evening trips for Karen (one to two evenings a week)
  18. Driving Barbie to bus stop
  19. XBX 12 minutes – this pen seems to seize up often.

The Base Hospital is a good place to sit and think or write. You’re sorted out pretty fast here. You also get lots of time to think. The mole’s growths are benign; they told me today. I was in and out of Surgical in a few minutes. That’s a great relief. Now I can sit in emergency to get the stitches seen to. A good long wait I guess.

It wasn’t a long wait. I was called and asked to sit with three other women. One had severe sunburn. The doctor came, stood in our midst and loudly called my name. She was young, petite and Chinese. “Me,” I said in a small voice from under her arm.
She spun around in surprise and said, “Oh, it’s you. How’s the arm?” So, on Friday I will go to get the sutures removed.

There’s plenty on hand, so why do Polymaths?

  • I would like a structured course with work to be produced in public
  • I like working in a group
  • I would like to be with people who are studying

But, because of my poor performance I’m not going to be given the chance. I myself cannot promise steady work – like an alcoholic who knows he’s an alcoholic. Besides the circumstances demand that I produce good results as Johnny is in charge.

Too bad.

Am I determined to make yet another attempt at studying maths? Yes.

What would I do if I say no? Get a job, any job, so as to shake myself out of my lethargy.

Lethargy is not exactly right. I’m not able to keep to a schedule or meet deadlines that I make myself. All this sounds pretty weak. My face feels stiff with resentment and hopelessness. Partly self-pity. Jobs are hard to get. Besides I don’t want to be away from the family for long stretches of time. So if one is choosy it’s even harder to find a job. I’ve been over this many times. If I work steadily on making stuff for the shops I should earn enough money to cover extra expenditure but that’s not the point is it?

Long-term viability is the aim and how best to achieve it.

What else? Write for money – hard but can be done.

Why do anything? I can’t understand it, I’m not happy if I’m studying something, so why can’t I be steady?

Why get so distracted, so easily? Not motivated enough.

11:15pm
Quite a nice day in Rocky despite shock to the system and ego.

Met Johnny on East Street and then went to look at cassette tape recorders, with a radio, for mum.

Phoned the farm to see if Marcello wanted a lift home. He wasn’t there and was out fishing. Nestor thought Marcello wouldn’t be keen to come home because he hadn’t shot a dingo as yet. They caught fish.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • Click here to go to this post online
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • List items 1, 2 and 19 are a bit cryptic, but I have included everything for completeness.