Readers may think that this is an odd subject to warrant an article in the Crier but apart from the less pleasant side a spell in hospital can be very rewarding. You meet people from all walks of life, some less fortunate than yourself which often brings home to you how lucky you are. You strike up friendships with other patients and then go on your separate ways never to meet again. Then there is the humorous side. There is always something which raises a laugh. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
My first experience as a patient was at the age of fifteen. I was attending an Air Training Corps camp at Leuchars. On the morning when I was to experience my first flight I didn't feel too well but I was determined not to miss it. Unknown to myself I had a distinctly yellowish complexion, a sure sign of jaundice. Before I knew what was happening I found myself in a bed in the sick-bay at R.A.F. Leuchars being fussed over by the nurses. Knowing how disappointed I was at missing my flight one of them brought her Pilot Officer boyfriend in in the evening and he promised to take me up for a flight as soon as I had recovered. Sadly it was not to be as I was transported home to Stanley in an ambulance the following evening. Needless to say its arrival caused quite a stir. My Granny who had been visiting us had been looking out the window wondering what all the fuss was abut when I walked in, still clad in my pyjamas.
About a quarter of a century later after a bad night the doctor was summoned andI found myself rushed into P.R.I. with acute appendicitis which developed into peritonitis. I was kept in for three weeks and it was another three before I returned to work. However a card signed by all my workmates convinced me that all was well as I had been replaced by a rubber stamp. The lighter moments of that visit was seeing my first born taking her first faltering steps across the ward during a visit. The other was when the ward sister, a redhead, whipped off a dressing. My “Ouch” of pain was swiftly followed by my comment “I’d rather be shaved than plucked”. Her faced turned as red as her hair.. During that stay I had the distinction of being visited by no less than three ministers on the same day. Reverend Thomas Potts from Abernethy, Reverend Iain Reid from Stanley and Reverend Tom Gibb from St Paul’s who was hospital chaplain. You could say that I was thrice blessed.
My next spell in hospital was in Bridge of Earn for the less serious problem of an ingrowing toe-nail. On my first visit to the theatre I was greeted with the words “What are you doing here Bob?” None other than Jim Roy from Abernethy who worked there. I was well organised. Daisy Winton who also worked there as a cleaner would collect my “Courier” from the corner shop and deliver it to my bedside. Efforts to save my big toe-nail were in vain and on my third visit it was eventually removed. One of my workmates on my first visit was footballer Joe Gilroy of Dundee F.C.. One of Joe’s claims to fame was a T.V. Commercial for Bilsland’s Bread in which he was seen scoring a goal with a spectacular overhead kick. He was also a dancer with the White Heather Club on BBC T.V.. At that time I had a silky dressing gown in a maroon colour. He said I reminded him of Noel Coward. Another footballer in for a cartilage operation on a later visit was Bobby Cox of Dundee. Bobby, who has a stand named after him at Dens Park had a pub in Broughty Ferry called “The Sliding Tackle”. His wife would bring in a “carry out” on her visits which some of us would share. Apart from a hernia operation when I was in and out on the same day I didn’t trouble the surgeons until 2010 when things were a bit more serious. Skipping the medical details two things stick in my memory. One is being greeted by a familiar face coming out of the anaesthetic after a five hour operation - none other than Pauline Jamieson from Abernethy. The other was a visit from the late Dave Halliday. Dave whose party piece was an impression of comedian Chic Murray brought me a book about Chic which was punctuated by his various jokes such as - A man was standing at a bus stop with a dog at his feet. A passer-by asked “Does your dog bite?” “No" was the reply and when he leaned down to stroke it he almost had his hand bitten off. “ I thought you said your dog didn’t bite” the passer-by accused “That’s no my dug” was the response. That book kept me and the rest of the occupants of the ward amused during my stay.
In the words of that famous comedy duo “Always look on the bright side of life”. Or as we Scots put it “ If we didna’ laugh we would greet”