Laughter in the hospital

Local author, bush poet and yarn spinner Sandy Thorne would possibly be the only person who could find something funny about being in hospital.

Her latest book Bedpan Blues recounts all the humorous, as well as horrible, things that happened during a recent long stay at a huge Sydney hospital.

“By the second day in there, I thought to myself ‘I’ve got to write all this stuff down,’” she said. “I had to work hard on seeing the funny side of things like the nurses waking you up out of a deep sleep to give you two Panadol; or asking, in megaphone tones, in front of a wardful of patients and visitors: ‘Have you worked your bowels today?’ When I replied, equally loudly, ‘Yes, I cantered them in circles for half and hour, then popped them over a some low jumps’, I didn’t make the oh-so-discreet nurse laugh, but everyone else in the ward did.”

Battles with the dreaded bedpan are described in hilarious style. (With a bandaged leg that’s unusable, getting on a bedpan’s one thing, getting off it presents a truly tremendous challenge.)

Then there were the “mystery meals” sent in from a prison. “If anything would make you obey the law and stay out of jail, they would. That the hospital’s kitchens are now closed down, all those workers put out of work, was almost as astounding to me, as the standards of cleaning. Instead of the permanent cleaners who used to take such a pride in their polished floors and spotless surfaces, an outside contractor now employs students who seem to have a contest going to see who can swing a broom or mop with the least enthusiasm,” she said.

The names of the hospital, staff and patients have all been changed, allowing this writer of several successful books about humorous bush characters, to describe in vivid, entertaining detail, the succession of patients she shared her ward with: drug addicts, ratbags, and ethnics whose noisy, never-ending crowds of visitors – allowed to take over the entire ward due to political correctness - nearly drove the writer nuts.

Political correctness is thrown to the wind as the multi-cultural microcosm of a Sydney hospital is put under her microscope. Among the incisive humour Sandy uses to describe everyday life in an orthopaedic ward, is her recurring message that Australia’s governments send vast sums of taxpayers money to overseas countries, while our hospitals are desperate for funds.

As in her previous books, this honorary promoter of Lightning Ridge as a tourist destination, manages to also get the message across to people who havn’t been here, to “bloodywell go there!” Released in time for Father’s Day, Bedpan Blues is being promoted as an ideal tonic for someone who’s a bit crook or just needs a good laugh, and is available at all local booksellers.

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