Sunday, June 28, 2009

My body & soul

Every Sunday in The Observer magazine there’s a feature called My Body & Soul. Each week a different celebrity answers a set of questions related to physical and mental health, attitudes to sex, and smoking, cosmetic surgery, drugs, that sort of thing. And one of the regular questions that always interests me is Have you ever spent a night in hospital? I’ve pulled together a few of the answers given by various showbiz types.
Alan Carr, comedian, 33 – once kept a friend company over night
Sanjeev Bhaskar, actor, 44 – once had day surgery
Paul McGann, actor, 49 – once with an injured leg
Tamsin Greig, Actor, 41 – only to give birth
Jon Snow, journalist, 61 – had tonsils out aged 7
Alexander Armstrong, comedian, 39 – tonsils out as a kid
Bobby Charlton, football legend, 71 – for a week after the Munich air crash
Boy George, singer-songwriter, 47 – never
George Galloway, MP, 53 – not since childhood
Jasmine Guinness, model, 31 – only to give birth
Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP, 60 – appendix aged 16
What always surprises me is how little time some of these people have spent in hospital. Some of them are no spring chickens either. Look at Jon Snow for instance; he hasn’t had a night in hospital for 54 years. Ann Widdecombe, too. She hasn’t so much as creased the sheets of a hospital bed in 44 years. But the one that amazes me is Boy George. He’s a former junkie for pity’s sake. The man has injected half of Afghanistan into his rotten veins. How the hell has he managed to stay out of hospital for 47 years? I totted up a rough estimate of how long I’ve spent in hospital over the years and it’s somewhere between 2 to 3 months. More worryingly UC only accounts for 6 weeks of that time. Laughingly I’ve always considered myself quite a healthy chap as well. But my extensive hospital CV clearly begs to differ. I’m now beginning to realise I’m the exception rather than the norm. When I think about it hardly any of my friends have spent a night in hospital. As sad as it may sound hospitals and doctors surgeries have just become part of my life, like going to the cinema or out for dinner. When I hear people say, “Ooh, I can’t stand the smell of hospitals.” I don’t understand what they mean. If hospitals smell funny I’m so used to it I don’t even notice. Desperately trying to find something positive to take out of my disturbing familiarity with all things NHS, I’m reminded of a text message I received from a work friend one Sunday night a few weeks ago: Dad taken into hospital. Could be serious. Not sure of my movements over the next few days. Might not be in. Quite an alarming message. Apparently my friend’s mum was in pieces. The whole family was on red alert. My mate didn’t even know if he’d make it into work in the coming days. Serious stuff. Now I don’t mean to trivialise things, but they let my friend’s dad out a few hours later. He didn’t even stay in overnight. Panic over. If my friend and his family overreacted slightly I think it’s partly because hospitals are unknown to them, it’s an alien environment. The minute they see tubes and needles they call for the priest. I’m not trying to be tough, or say that I’ve been there, done that and worn the hospital gown, but my eclectic hospital experiences over the years have left me a little more prepared than most and flashing blue lights, operating theatres and doctors sticking their fingers up your backside don’t generally faze me. Aren’t I just the lucky one.