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Rants, Raves and High Geekery.
Saturday, 6 June 2015
My Broken Heart (75 Days In The NHS) by MARK BARRY. 75 Rhyming Poems (With Photos) About A Heart Attack, A Quadruple Bipass, Angina, Piles, Fruity Pots, Nurses, Doctors and Being Given A Second Chance...
“I’m a Catholic Boy. Redeemed through pain and not through joy...”
The lyrics to a Jim Carroll song from 1980 ran through my head the night it struck.
And that the front door was only a few more paces away...a few more and I’d be home.
In truth - and unlike our better halves - most men have an irrational fear of physical pain. We will do anything to avoid it. Exercise in a good case in point. We know instinctively that if we don’t do the requisite amount of cycling, swimming or even walking distances on occasion (anything that isn’t watching tele, surfing the net or sitting in a strategically placed stereo-imaged recliner), we will eventually inflict on ourselves a whole shitload of pain. And all of this avalanche of hurt will come to us at a time in our lives when we’re least able to cope it. We know all this. But like the dumb schmucks men are - we avoid it.
“A stroke doctor will be here to see you soon...”
I remember two things clearly - the chill that statement instilled in me as the nurse said it (the years of Chocolate Digestives, Salt and Vinegar Crisps and Peppermint Creams was over) - and looking up at the two shuffling Ambulance men on either side of my wheelchair. They’d craftily conned me - deliberately not saying that word as they screamed through the rush hour traffic. And I also remember being sappily taken aback - cheated like a child denied an ice-cream cone on a seaside pier. You see while women can call on monthlies and childbirth as real instances of proper agony - men haven’t a clue about screaming - and like to keep it that way. In fact men will avoid pain like they avoid paying taxes, responsibility or bolshy in-laws. And that’s where this book of 75 poems comes in - because in many ways “My Broken Heart (75 Days In The NHS)” is about what happens to you when you avoid a little discomfort, when you shirk your health, when time simply runs out and you literally have to man up or you’re going to die - inside and out.
Because of a right-sided carotid and dissected artery complication (needed to heal) - my quadruple bypass operation had to wait 3 months from its diagnosis date (2 Nov 2012). This meant that when I entered Whipps Cross Hospital on Friday 28 November 2012 expecting the big saw on my chest plate within days - the surgeons and consultants gradually decided that I had to wait until 2 February 2013 before they’d attempt such a dangerous operation. This meant I’d be monitored and kept alive by drugs and care. 70 days of pain in the British National Health Service followed by a bypass and recovery. Nice.
I’ll freely admit that I properly broke down twice - and came close to losing it completely on many other days when the closed-in spaces and the wait and the pain were becoming too much. And though it was understandable - I still wince at the thought of me becoming so creepy-needy in hospital - crying behind the Side Room door like a big girl’s blouse at visiting children making too much noise. And it’s true that nurses can save your sanity with a cup of tea and a biscuit on more than one occasion and are endowed with a well of kindness that seems inexhaustible and at times inexplicable.
But there were the belly laughs too, characters you meet, bonds you make, my family and friends mucking in like troopers and the extraordinary array of staff working their asses off and constantly lifting up your spirits (no praise is enough).
On the night I left St. Barts Hospital in the City of London - 75 days after my internment - it was four below outside - absolute brass monkeys. I remember I thought my lungs would explode at all that air. And I remember sitting in our car with my lovely wife Mary Ann on that almost surreal journey - finally on our way home to see the kids - the skyline and neons of old London now so beautiful and new. Again another song leapt into my consciousness – the jubilant “In God’s Country” by U2 from their magnificent “The Joshua Tree” album. “Desert sky...we need new dreams tonight...”
I remember thinking the sappy Irishman is being given a second chance.
And can I rhyme Altoids with Haemorrhoids and get away with it?
Mark Barry (2013, 2014, 2015)
Patient No. 347406 (28 Nov 2012) - HOSPITAL
Electrodes and Glyceryl Trinitrate (29 Nov 2012)
Angiogram (30 Nov 2012)
Meds Trolley (1 Dec 2012)
Right-Sided Carotid Artery (2 Dec 2012)
Nurses (3 Dec 2012)
Best-Laid Plans (4 Dec 2012)
Thomas Crappers (5 Dec 2012)
Stuff and Nonsense (6 Dec 2012)
Fresh Meat (7 Dec 2012) The Newsroom (8 Dec 2012) Dennis The Menace and Gnasher (9 Dec 2012)
Bullies (10 Dec 2012)
M. R. I. (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) (11 Dec 2012)
Fruit 'n' Nuts (12 Dec 2012)
Ravi Shankar (13 Dec 2012)
Ali (14 Dec 2012)
Nurse's Station (15 Dec 2012)
Real Bad News (Into The Light) (16 Dec 2012) (for the Families Of Sandy Hook)
Schmuck City (17 Dec 2012)
Accepting Hardships (18 Dec 2012)
Heaven's Above and Below (19 Dec 2012)
This Might Hurt (20 Dec 2012)
Three Months (21 Dec 2012)
Reckless Records (22 Dec 2012)
Meat and Two Veg [aka “Battle Of The Bulge”] (23 Dec 2012)
The Love You Made (24 Dec 2012)
Nan (25 Dec 2012) (for Sarah Wolfe and Family)
Vows (26 Dec 2012) (for my wife Mary Ann)
Depth Charges (27 Dec 2012)
Attempting Re-Entry (28 Dec 2012)
Hinterland (29 Dec 2012)
Reminders (30 Dec 2012) (for our Autistic son Dean)
Tomorrow Is The Future (31 Dec 2012)
Free (1 Jan 2013)
Andy Dufresne's iPAD (2 Jan 2013)
Blood, Sex and Shit [aka “Have You Had A Bowel Movement Today?”] (3 Jan 2013)
The British (4 Jan 2013)
Danny Boy (5 Jan 2013)
Sacrifice (6 Jan 2013)
Sick Note (7 Jan 2013)
Mister Clean [aka “Inside Man”] (8 Jan 2013)
The Well (9 Jan 2013) (for our children Dean, Julia and Sean)
In Absolute Wonder (10 Jan 2013)
Strawberry Jam and Marmalade (11 Jan 2013)
Heart Installation (12 Jan 2013)
Routine Stretch [aka “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”] (13 Jan 2013)
Small Mercies (14 Jan 2013)
Love Story (The Notebook) (15 Jan 2013)
Apocalypse Every Now and Then (16 Jan 2013)
54 1/2 Shades Of Off-White [aka “Soggy Chip”] (17 Jan 2013)
Cause For Concern [aka “Slippery Slope”] (18 Jan 2013)
Ray Harryhausen and Matisse (19 Jan 2013) (for my Mum and Dad)
Scarlett Johansson Called Again (aka “It's A Lurve Thing”) (20 Jan 2013)
Payback (21 Jan 2013)
Sick-Man's Burden (22 Jan 2013)
Seeds (23 Jan 2013)
Sucker's Bait (24 Jan 2013)
All Time Low (25 Jan 2013)
Mind Blowing Decisions (26 Jan 2013)
Cary Grant (27 Jan 2013)
Healing Hands [aka “God Only Knows”] (28 Jan 2013)
Room 18 (29 Jan 2013)
Desert Errata [aka “Cardiovascular Poster Boy”] (30 Jan 2013)
Personal Space [aka “In Case Of Death”] (31 Jan 2013)
Salt Of The Earth (1 Feb 2013)
Quality Of Life (2 Feb 2013) (for Bryan Taylor and Family)
Devotion (3 Feb 2013)
Consent Form 1 (4 Feb 2013)
Burma Shave (5 Feb 2013)
Yogurts and Fruity Pots (6 Feb 2013)
Pissing For England (7 Feb 2013)
For Whom The Bells Toll (8 Feb 2013)
Journey's End (9 Feb 2013)
Lungmungus [aka “55 After 75”] (10 Feb 2013) - HOME There are also 15 videos of me reading out varying pieces from the book (with preambles and explanations). Enjoy...