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Saturday, 16 June 2007

At death's door. Saigon, Vietnam

The next morning about eight o'clock a nurse came round and started to put a rubber tube down my throat. This had some kind of mettalic attachment on the end with two holes in it. She was very gentle about it but I felt I was going to vomit and then the tube would get entangled with my vocal chords and I would choke to death. It seemed like it would take forever to reach my stomach. I was not happy. I then had to lie down, which I did, but found myself facing the wall, and lay there hour after hour feeling utterly sorry for myself, not daring to move or turn over. Sometime between eleven and twelve the nurse came by and took it out.

The following morning was just as bad but I at least faced into the room. By the fourth day the tube was going down easier and I was suffering less, butI started to have visitors and must have given the impression of somebody being at death's door. I just managed to talk but generally felt very uncomfortable.

I then started to miss my morning coffee and breakfast which must have been a good sign as my appetite was returning. There was however no coffee for me as I had this rubber tube down my throat. The situation was aggravated by the fact that I was woken up at five every morning by the siren that announced the end of the curfew. This must have been situated just next to the hospital, so loud was it. I then had three hours of lying awake with nothing to do until the day nurse came around to put this tube down my throat whilst everybody else got breakfast. I then spent a miserable morning.

I was told the night nurse was not qualified to feed me the tube so I couldn't have it done at five o'clock. I then asked if I could do it myself. After some hesitation I was allowed to try. So the next morning after I was woken up by the siren I tried to put this rubber tube down my throat until it reached my stomach. Things rapidly improved after that and soon I was able to do it with ease. I was then able to finish this treatment by breakfast time and could enjoy my coffee.

In hospital little things that help mount one's spirit are very important. Soon, lying in the early morning reading with this tube became only a minor irritation.

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