Sorry for calling you so late, it’s just...
I couldn’t help sobbing on the phone. It was 2 am on Monday.
The pain crept into my abdomen several days ago with a faint start, which fooled me to think that I had just eaten something wrong. It never occurred to me that the pain would grow unbearable.
Can you go to the hospital with me tomorrow morning? I asked him, shivering in the pain with a deep helplessness surging out from my heart.
I have just been to the hospital for a vaccination. Now, alone, in another country, what am I gonna do if there is something seriously wrong with me? My whole body was knotted with fear and twisted by the pain. He patted my hand consolingly and tried to comfort me. But my tears kept falling, wetting his jumper. I felt so scared and powerless, that kind of powerlessness that is not within your own control.
A grey-haired man sleeping in a bed being wheeled by a nurse, a girl with a numb expression on her face leaning on the seat with her infusion bottle, a middle-aged guy in the queue who groaned in anguish, I felt I would collapse any second.
Why am I here? What kind of problems could I have? I asked myself, lying on the bed, looking around the ward. The rest of the beds held three others. The wrinkles curved by time on their faces spoke out all the hardships they had suffered.
The nurse told me that I needed to stay overnight for another blood test, as the blood taken the first time was not clean enough.
I stared at the transparent, cold, unfeeling saline flowing into my vein, turning my temperature down little by little. I had never received an intravenous drip before. I closed my eyes, chewing the first day I arrived in Edinburgh. The whole city was soaked in the unstopping rain. I felt as cold as I feel at this moment… A nurse walked in, putting some painkillers on the table and a big jar of water filled with rocks.
I got you some food, he said. And your favourite brownie, ta-da! he made a face at me.
I didn’t say anything but looked at the iced water on the table.
After a while, he returned to me, carrying a thermal water bottle with hot water inside. But it’s very hot, he said, sticking his tongue out. Then he poured some iced water inside. He took a sip then handed it to me, smiling, Here we go, it’s nice and warm now.
Can you stay over? I asked him.
I don’t want to be alone, I said to myself, wrapped in a sense of desperation.
I will if they let me, said he, leaned over and gave me a kiss.
Unfortunately, the hospital did not allow visitors to stay overnight.
I won’t leave until they kick me out, okay? He held my hand gently, trying to reassure me. They said the earliest time I can be here is 8 tomorrow, so you can see me when you wake up, alright?
I just watched him like he would leave at any second. After I had the food, he lowered the head of the bed, adjusted my pillow, and then gently laid me down against it.
The pain wasn’t so bad while I was lying still. However, any slight move triggered severe pain. After a while, I felt the need to use the bathroom. I couldn’t lift myself up. The awkwardness swept over me, and my face was burning.
I want to go to the bathroom, I murmured to him.
He responded to me in such a natural way, as if I asked him to show me the daffodils in the garden. He unplugged the infusion apparatus, held me up in his arms, and took me inside the bathroom.
The whole night was penetrated with noise. Nurses came in and out, while I was shifting between reality and dreams. My head was heavy like wearing a dizzy spell till I opened my eyes in the morning the next day.
The first person I set my eyes on was him.
He leaned over and gave me a soft kiss, greeting me with his very Scottish manner, Hiya, are you alright?
It’s not very bad, I forced a smile out.
I kept falling asleep as we waited for my results but he was there holding my hand every time I opened my eyes.
The blood test was followed by an ultrasonic scan and CT. I was waiting for every result in bed, worrying more and more. He read novels to me and added some imaginative plots by himself to cheer me up. He also helped other patients in need around the ward.
When he handed the newspaper to the old lady in the bed next to me, I said to myself, What a kind person he is, how lucky I am.
We didn’t find anything in the CT scan, said the doctor, we will give you some medicine and you can leave anytime you want. You’re fine.
At that moment, a nurse stepped in with the dinner menu and inquired about my choice of sandwich or haggis.
Haggis in a Scottish hospital, that’s authentic enough. Haggis it is.
She giggled at my answer, and continued, go with tatties?
What is that? I asked her back.
Oh, sorry, it’s potatoes. She made a playful face to me.
Alright then, I will go with tatties. I like being with Scottish, I said.
I turned to the Scottish boy sitting by me and smiled.