Monday, February 27, 2006

These gates of wrath

Although I've been back at my editing (and have made some progress) this past week has been one long headache - mainly because of the flu which is still persisting behind my eyes and at the back of my throat. I must be Poland's number one consumer of Solpadeine (a fantastically effective soluble pain-killer).

Today I got up at 6am to accompany a friend of my mine to hospital for an operation. As instructed - we arrived well before 8am. It seems to be norm to not tell patients attending public hospitals for surgery:
-What day they will actually have their operation
-What time they will actually be registered and admitted
-What time they will actually have their operation
-Exactly what test results they need to bring with them when they come (well, they tell you and then maybe when you arrive for the op they add some requirements - which if you haven't got you must go away and get and much of the process must begin again from scratch.)
-They tell you partially what you need to bring with you (this time they forgot to say you need to bring your own knife and fork).
-They tell you partially what you may or may not eat before the 'potential' operation.

As I said, we arrived a little before 8am but did not manage to get registered or admitted until 12pm. That's a grim waiting room marathon of 4 hours. Of course in many countries 4 hours could be considered quick but I would imagine that most hospitals in most countries do not operate a policy of:

"First come, last served."

Which was what was happening this morning. That wouldn't upset me that much but one woman who was waiting with us was nine months pregnant with twins (could she get any bigger?). Even when we managed get registered and left she was still sitting there waiting. Furthermore there I was some deeply unpleasant Polish Post Office-style verbal violence to sit through. A woman with her daughter (her clone it would seem) did not need to wait more than 5 minutes on two separate occasions to get seen - invoking sly accusations from the other inmates of the waiting room of 'insider connections' and contempt for the heavily pregnant women. The accused launched into a passionate victim's plea of innocence and (as so often happens) threatened tears. Most of her defense statement was beyond my understanding.

It was all very unpleasant - but once admitted through the sterile cracked paint gates of the second floor everything was fine. The rooms were clean and spacious and the staff almost too friendly and relaxed.

Taking a break from the hospital I ate 'lunch' (and took another Solpedeine) in McDonald's. Once upon a time you used to have to show your receipt to a lady to get into the toilet. Then you had to ask for a plastic coin from the staff to get into the toilet. Not anymore! Now your receipt comes with a PIN number that you need to key into the toilet door. Wow! But how does it work I wonder? How does the door know that my 4-digit McRoyal and fries PIN is valid? Is the toilet door somehow communicating with the McDonald's till or does the PIN contain an encrypted timestamp for the door to make sense of? What if the toilet communicated with the till? What information could that provide the 'Golden Arches'?

Curious stuff. And then...

On the way home I witnessed an elderly man having some kind of seizure on a pile of 'sidewalk snow' while another guy tried to convince a taxi driver to take him to hospital. It was almost a scene straight out of Decalogue 5 - but this time the taxi driver did agree.

Next up, on the Metro something hidden in a large pram threw a frighteningly violent tantrum and made blood-curdling screams that had the whole carriage staring in amazement. Whatever was in the pram was so strong it almost managed to throw the pram over with its rage.

So if Damien's 'time has come' once again - it seems it has come again in Warsaw. Rather apt I think given the day's events.


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