lizhand (lizhand) wrote in theinferior4,

Hard Times

[Update:  Ellen just rang to say she's going into the OR in 20 minutes.  Keep her in you thoughts ...]

Those of you who know Ellen Datlow have probably heard she's been in London Hospital for almost a week, enduring a rather ghastly and extended  Orwellian/Kafkaesque nightmare (with overtones of The Singing Detective and Brazil).  Last Saturday she was brought to the ER for a leg injury that developed into a staph infection, was admitted to a room for treatment; has been successfully treated with IV antibiotics and since Wednesday has been awaiting a final 30-minute cleanup procedure (ablation and debriding of the wound: an outpatient procedure).  The debriding has been put off, day after day, as triage means the surgeon and OR are taken up by emergency patients.  The hospital's a vast ancient pile (the gleaming new hospital next door won't open till next year) in Whitechapel; a flu epidemic meant Ellen and other patients have been housed in an old wing that was previously closed but was opened to accommodate them. It's an open ward with numerous patients, crowded and understaffed; the hospital's immense and the upshot is that there is virtually no communication between the various divisions.  So Ellen's caught in a medical Catch-22: they won't release her till the surgery's done but they can't perform the surgery, and the airline won't allow her to fly without it (she was supposed to leave Wednesday).  We've been to see her several times.  The head nurse is extremely apologetic and distressed (and embarrassed) by the situation, and has tried his very best to help.  Having witnessed how difficult it was for him to even get the name and extension of the surgeon (about fifteen minutes on the phone),  I certainly hope he gets a big promotion in the new hospital (and a new phone).  Various friends have been to visit, including the Clutes and me, Rob Holdstock,  Paul McCauley, and the saintly Pat Cadigan's been there almost 24/7.  Ellen hasn't been able to have food or even water because each day she's supposed to go under anaesthesia, and when Pat asked last night if she might be given ice chips to suck, the head nurse laughed grimly and said "Ice chips?  What's that?  We have no ice."  A final nice touch: on the ward desk there is a large, dogeared notebook titled HOW TO DEAL WITH A DYING PATIENT, and next to it a hymnal opened to "Nearer My God to Thee."

John spoke to Ellen early this morning but not since, so we hope she finally did get into the OR.  I know this isn't a standard example of the NHS, just plain old bad luck; I've dealt with them in the past as an American patient and they've always been very efficient.  

Still, the moral is: wait till the new London Hospital opens before checking in.

In other happy-news, my friend Streitfeld has an excellent piece in the NY Times on hard times in smalltown America:

And Amanda Palmer just left to catch the train to Paris for the next leg of her tour.  [File under Small World: as a girl she vacationed on Monhegan Island in Maine, where she knew the young Orca Bates, one of Jamie Wyeth's muses and one of the inspirations for the earliest version of Mortal Love.]  There's a very fine interview with her in today's Guardian, conducted here at the Camden Town flat; the print edition has a different photo that features two of Judith Clute's paintings (unfortunately uncredited).

And, finally, A.O. Scott of the NYT gives Neil G's Coraline a rave review, perhaps the only rave review I've ever seen for a 3D movie.
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