A rupture in the shell…how the ammonyte got broken.

The Ammonyte has had a ‘sode. This is how it happened.

You see, the thing is there is really only so much of a GSA that you can put up with (GSA=Generic Sales Arsehole), and eventually the only sensible (and kind) thing you can do is to kill them, well at least try. So having tried to revoke the GSA, the ammonyte put plan B into operation. Plan B is when you have screwed up your life again, end it. So the silver arrow was pointed south via a number of Tesco stores. At each store 32 paracetemol were purchased. Once (actually in Camberley) they refused to sell the ammonyte 48 pills, so he simply walked in again and bought another 32 just to spite them. Some anadin were bought where paracetemol wasn’t available. A rather meandering journey south leads to East Dean, jumping off point for Beachy Head (well best to try and combine several activities at once, geology and death). Find a free car park and stomp along the road and past the Sheep Centre to Birling Gap. Lovely late afternoon sunshine for the 4 km walk along the cliffs to the Head, checking out the crosses and the faded flowers. Apparently this is the World Number One spot to die – it over-took the San Francisco golden gate bridge in 2005. [check the trivia section ] Sitting in the sun wondering what the drop feels like, how does it compare to a roller coaster? Most coasters seem to start with an alarming drop, if you can get over that the rest of the ride is fine. However, the Hulk begins with an alarming launch. Note the location of all the car parks and the routes from them to the cliff edge. It’ll be easier to plunge in the dark. Light fades on the walk back to East Dean. Make very quick call from Birling Gap, don’t want the wrong people to get the wrong idea about my motives. This will turn out to be a bad move.

Drive up to the selected car park. It’s not quite dark enough yet, so settle down for a wait. After about 15 minutes a Police car drives past and pulls up along side. The officers try to make small talk. The Ammonyte hates bad small talk. It irritates, like grains of sand inside his shell. Engine on, reverse away, see, they really should have parked behind. Nice of Mr Vauxhall to put toughened glass in the side windows, so they can’t be broken by a baton. The police decide to do a blue light chase, which really isn’t the smartest decision when faced with a possible suicide, as the pursued really won’t care about dying and it only adds to the risk to others. The road block is easily dealt with by lining up to ram them in accordance with Andy McNab’s instructions to aim for the front quarter which will spin the blocking car out of the way. At the last moment the police car reverses out of the way. Put several vehicles between pursued and pursuers by overtaking several strings of cars, then on a twisting descent out of sight, turn down a dark side road, lights off and bump along the track. Houses to one side, stop after a while and the track becomes a green lane. You have to finish a pursuit quickly, before the helicopter gets a chance to become involved. So let’s assume 10 minutes to scramble and 10 minutes scouting time, you’ve got 20 minutes max. Plan C: the overdose. Getting 112 tablets out of a blister pack is quite fiddly and time consuming. Wash down with fruit juice. Should have bought some alcohol, but 2 bottles of wine and 2 pack of pills really would have drawn too much attention. The car is a big fat infrared signal. Need to find somewhere more inconspicuous. Clamber over a gate and down the hill walking through wet grass. Lights of helicopter in distance running back and forth, they clearly don’t realise the Ammonyte turned off the road. Check the sky, clear and dark, look at the lights from the towns and villages. Trying to work out where the coast is, should be the darkest park of the sky. Let’s wander back there for a leap in the dark. Helicopter lights getting closer, so shelter under a wall. Try to make a really small IR signal, and put enough material between you and the sensor. Chopper flies straight past, can’t believe they missed the car. Maybe what you see on TV are only the (few?) successful pursuits. Just what are their stats? Are they really worth the expense or are chopper cops just for show? Any way, bit tired now, just have a little lie down here for a while.

Wake up and it’s been raining. Damn, still alive didn’t really expect this. Low cloud means that navigating to the darkest part of the sky won’t work and am not sure which direction is which. Can’t recall where I came from. Wearing the wrong watch, instead of the watch the SAS wear when slotting people, should have chosen the one with compass and altimeter. Take a guess and try to walk forwards to what appears to be a stand of trees on the other side of the valley. Walking is difficult, so employ a bit of crawling. Run into barbed wire fence, so feel way along it until a gateway allows a clamber over it. Time and stumbling/crawling/vomiting passes. Seem to be trapped inside a wall-bounded field. Feel way along wall, counting corners. 4 and the ammonyte will be back at the starting point. Eventually find a track and follow it, past a possible house, and pick up a road. Eventually there must be a road sign and directions to the Head. Passed by several cars driving really fast, maybe a stumble at the right moment into their path would help. Quite cold now, shivering very hard. Still shivering so not actually hypothermic. Eventually descend into a village, see lights of a telephone box. Time for plan D, call 999 “Hello, I believe you are looking for me?”

Two cars of police officers arrive and the ammonyte goes quietly. Start off trying to locate the silver arrow, but the officers get redirected to Eastbourne A&E fairly promptly. Seems to be a quiet night in A&E, looks like the cephalopod is the only customer. The ammonyte has never been a fan of needles but the cannula for an IV drip goes in quite easily, and blood for a test comes out the other arm easily, too. Time passes while the policemen try and chat up the nurses, ask the odd question, get the odd answer. Quite a lot of vomiting. Bowls in hospitals these days consist of recycled cardboard pressed into bowler hat shapes. Hallucinate a Mr Bean sketch where he tries to wear one, not knowing it is full. Serves the bugger right. Does anyone find that man funny? Police change shift at 7 AM; apparently now waiting for the hospital day shift to clock on before going up to the ward. Car has been found and has been taken back to the patrol centre. Police officer hands out card with number to call to reclaim it. Rolled into the elevator at 8 AM, officer leaves with best wishes, and rolled into MAU (maximum assessment unit). Get a bed by the window. Drip changed again. Apparently they go something like 15 minutes/3 hours/6 hours then 16 hours. Now on the six hour drip.

The MAU consists of 5 beds and a nurse station. Looks like the ammonyte is the youngest creature here. Nice view of old Eastbourne out of the window. Looking north west. Try to sleep, apart from the time in the field have been awake now for 26 hours. Don’t really succeed. Different doctors appear, ask questions, disappear. More blood is taken. Must start invoicing them for it. Smallest sip of water induces retching. Only bile comes up.

The consultant appears on his morning round. The very epitome of the sharp-suited demigod surrounded by fawning acolytes. Decide against asking after his shoe-shop business (his initials are JJB). Explains about liver failure and how the drugs in the drips are to reverse that. Think he is doing a poor job of putting the frighteners on. Orders an ECG before he leaves. Drifting, watching the ebb and flow of activity, the cleaners, the tea trolley, the endless blood-pressure and oxygen saturation tests. Lunch arrives but can’t even entertain the thought. Nurses pass by with messages from home and abroad. Feels like three days have passed in here already. Realise just how dirty I am, trousers covered in dirt, t shirt in mud and worse, that’s all the ammonyte was wearing (ok pants socks and shoes too). Worry about messing up their sheets. Beautiful day outside, watching the sun move across the sky, wondering about getting sunburnt on the feet. Finally need the toilet, allowed to amble along the corridor pushing the IV stand, washing hands doesn’t seem to make them any cleaner. Realise that a fall in the night nearly dislocated little finger of right tentacle, vivid purple bruising on the palm below the joint. No pain till now. Now onto 16 hour drips. Nurse Jed disconnects the IV drip long enough to put on the hospital issue pyjamas. Dinner is shepherds pie, seems to have been made with curry powder. Give up and eat the yoghurt instead. Doesn’t stay down long.

Violent electrical storms run in off the sea. An elderly American lady sits on the end of the ammonyte’s bed watching the storm, chatting, bonding. On the ceiling faint images appear, looking like the projection from a TV or computer screen. They resolve into scrolling text and DOS directory listings, possibly refracted through the double-glazed and coated windows. Nurse Vanessa cannot see them. In the dark and lying flat, the text gives way to scrolling Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sumerian cuneiform script and algebraic symbols, all rendered in gold. Waking after midnight to see rabbits running around the room and realise that the reason the American lady complained of being hot was that her bed is covered in golden long-haired guinea pigs. For some reason the IV drip has become a transparent Siamese cat, all internal organs visible. The room shimmers as though filled by layers of air with different refractive indexes. The night nurse discreetly phones the relatives of the lady opposite; if they want to see her again they should come in quickly. Behind the curtains on the right an RTA dies, and a priest reads the last rites while the relatives sniffle and sob. The RTA was one of three who were joyriding, all died. The drip is changed, blood leaks over the bed, tell the nurse about the guinea pigs “a lot of weird things have been happening tonight” is her reply.

Eventually dawn breaks, more blood pressure tests and the tea trolley makes its first round. Hungry enough to be actually looking forward to breakfast, and keep it all down (juice, cornflakes and toast). American lady returns with praise for the showers, “if you can, you should”. Bimble along pushing the IV stand. Slide pyjama top off and along the drip tube, manage to stand under shower, arm outstretched. Only have a bar of soap to wash hair, but it feels like the best shower ever, chance also to remove the fur from teeth. Back to ward in time for the newspaper trolley and buy copy of the Daily Torygraph. During ward round ask JJB about ECG, told it was fine, quip that something’s working OK then. JJB doesn’t seem to have sense of humour. Ought to lighten up or this place will drive him mad. Assured that they will “get somebody to talk to you”. Nurse arrives from Matron’s Office (or so her badge proclaims) to remove the ammonyte to a medical ward. Pass up offer of wheelchair for chance to bimble through the maze and down a level to the Jevington ward, bay D. Get a window seat again. Each bed has a combined TV/Phone. A technician arrives to disinfect the unit, chats about the company (Patientline, offices on Bath Road, Slough) and prospects for IT Jobs in Eastbourne. Lunch (Friday fish and chips) is served; the trainee side-kick of the chap serving food seems more interested in trying to chat up the younger (female) nurses and care-assistants. All men in this bay, and most of the others seem to have respiratory problems, except for the patient on the right who is recently out of surgery. A different doctor comes to introduce himself. Some prodding of the belly and assured that they will “get somebody to talk to you”. Similar routine of cleaning/tea trolley/blood pressure tests/food/drug dispensing ensues. Woman from chaplains office arrives to ask about arrangements for Sunday. Clearly she hasn’t read the form. Take delight in joining the Church of the Militant Atheist. (Did think about applying for “Jedi” status). Philippino (male) nurse puts in a connector so don’t have to drag the IV stand to the toilet. Changes dressing and cleans up arm where night nurse allowed blood to flow. Tired looking Junior doctor arrives to take blood for a test, returns five minutes later for more, forgot the “blue top” sample. Thought “blue top” was skimmed. Watch Gardener’s World and QI. Phone calls starting to arrive. There is a downside to technology.

During the night get woken at 2.30 AM for a blood pressure and oxygen sats test (why?), mucho activity at the next bed. It’s suspiciously vacant come morning. Fantastic pink sunrise (red sky in morning, sailors warning). Dawn chorus of tea trolley and nebulisers, buy the Saturday Torygraph and have enough reading material for a week. Much less activity at the weekend. View of the car park shows only one flash consultants car. IV drip runs out and isn’t replaced. Needle left in tentacle in case test show that they need to restart the drip. Now just on pills to prevent stomach ulcers. Sister sister arrives with fresh clothes, ask her to remove and burn lethal socks. She can’t help but point out all the things she would change if she ran this place. Facilities could best be described as “tired”. Grand Prix qualifying on TV, no luck for Schumacher, M. Toy with idea of going to the pub but settle for quiet night in front of the TV.

During the night get woken at 2.30 AM for a blood pressure and oxygen sats test (why x 2?), stroll down to the clearly under utilised shower room for a proper shower with Head and Shoulders and proper shower gel. Dress in real clothes. Wander over to the hospital shop and buy Sunday Telegraph and have enough reading material for a year. Hide in the day room and send illicit text messages from mobile phone that sister sister smuggled in. lady from chaplain’s office gives communion to the bloke in the bed opposite. Looks doubtful that he understands what is going on. Sunday, so lunch is roast pork. Grand Prix race on TV, no luck for Schumacher, M. KP calls for a word in the shell, like.

Monday brings Tim the Nigerian nursing assistant with the languid Nigerian approach that means the nursing staff need to hustle him around. Also much chuntering about being short-staffed due to the school half term. Doctor and retinue turn up to report that the liver functions are returning to normal, but are not quite there, yet. Another blood test is called for – they seem to be occurring at a fairly haphazard rate. Assured that they will “get somebody to talk to you”. Yeah, right. Slope off to the shop and buy a copy of Practical Photography and some chocolate. Manage to finish reading the weekend newspapers. JT and JN call, braving the 24p per minute tarrif.

Tuesday and there is someone from the Chaplin’s office praying over the chap in the bed opposite. He looks like a ghost at the best of times, and it looks to be even money on who gets out of here first. Doctor arrives and declares “you are medically fit to leave, but we will get someone from the psychiatric department to speak to you first”. Cute red-head (too tall) mentions a low pulse of 42 on the record, Dr takes pulse and reports “its 50 during a ward round” the ammonyte reports that cephalopods are known for their slow pulses. Finally a dude from psychiatry appears and we wander down the corridor to an empty bay (this hospital is supposed to be full and there is room for at least another 12 beds). The dude’s note taking assistant is waiting and a brief resume of the world since 1979 and how it impacted upon the ammonyte ensues, with special emphasis on the past six days. Dude leaves “we’ll add this to your discharge letter” and it’s back to bay D in time for lunch. Ring the number on the card left by the police officer; the car is waiting, just make sure to tell the taxi driver to go to the Patrol Centre. Finally the sister brings the letter and a week’s supply of Omeprazole, directions to the phone for the taxi, and with a peck on the cheek the ammonyte is free. The taxi arrives in minutes and a short drive later deposits one ammonyte outside the patrol centre. The silver arrow is parked outside, looking remarkably happy. It takes a while for the door to be answered, keys are handed over and that’s that. Drive back avoiding the M25 and the closed northbound section of the A24, stopping long enough to pick up a KFC.

So lessons:- don’t take anadin with paracetemol as the anadin upsets the stomach and causes vomiting. Resist all temptation for a final phone call, it’ll help them to trace you. Policemen are really nice and nurses even nicer. The NHS is clearly not safe in TB’s hands (nor GB’s if it comes to that)

~ by @mmonyte on October 25, 2006.

4 Responses to “A rupture in the shell…how the ammonyte got broken.”

  1. Readed

    No one feels another’s grief, no one understands another’s joy. People imagine they can reach one another. In reality they only pass each other by

  2. This is probably an example of Spam, but it seemed too relevant to moderate it into oblivion. If it is spam, then the ‘bots are becoming sentient.

  3. Glad you never succeeded, more glad than you could ever know

  4. I second ISF…..the world would be a far sadder place… missing all of your beautiful photos, your life and your spirit that you share with us all. Even when you are grumpy!

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