-- when you’re scheduled to go under the knife.
The most recent tracks I made, quite of my own volition, were to a Tel Aviv hospital and back. Or, to put it more bluntly, to General Surgery, to be cut up and sewn back together again.
When packing my bag on the preceding day, I spent an inordinate amount of time fretting about what to pack:
- Toiletries, of course. But do I take my fave shampoo-and-conditioner, or do I travel light and pack one of those small complimentary bottles provided by hotels? I have quite a collection of those, and they’re so cute! Do I need my hair dryer, or will there be one in the bathroom? It is supposed to be a good hospital, after all. And what about makeup?
I had this long, carefully thought-out list…
Then came Reality and laughed in my face.
What on earth made me think, for example, that I would be in any state to make progress with knitting my scarf?
And what possessed me to bring along a pencil case with three kinds of pens and two pencils? As well as a clipboard with Sudoku puzzles… my kindle… laptop… iPhone… chargers for all… a thriller… Not to mention essentials such as bathrobe, slippers, flip-flops, and some sweatpants and Ts in case I didn’t like those hospital PJs.
I spent only 4 nights in hospital. But, as Hugh Laurie says in The Gun Seller (which I’d also packed),
“Time is a funny thing.
I once met an RAF pilot who told me how he and his navigator had had to eject from their very expensive Tornado GR1, three hundred feet above the Yorkshire dales, because of what he called a ‘bird strike’…. Anyway, the point of the story is that, after the accident, the pilot and navigator had sat in a de-briefing room and talked to investigators, uninterrupted, for an hour and fifteen minutes about what they’d seen, heard, felt and done, at the moment of contact.
An hour and fifteen minutes.
And yet the black box flight-recorder, when it was eventually pulled from the wreckage, showed that the time elapsed between the bird entering the engine intake and the crew ejecting, was a fraction under four seconds.
Four seconds. That’s bang, one, two, three, fresh air.”