Goodmans Hotel (Chapter 6, page 1 of 10)

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Andrew's 'blackout' had been caused by a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a leakage of blood from one of the small arteries which supply the brain. He had been helping to lift a large container of plants at Ferns and Foliage when he collapsed. The garden centre's manager was summoned and, unable to bring him back to consciousness, called an ambulance. Andrew had come round to some extent by the time the ambulance arrived, but was dazed and unable to stand, and was taken into hospital for tests and observation.

On Saturday morning Tom took him a few personal things from Biddulph Mansions and some business papers, while I spent the morning in Chiswick looking after domestic essentials. In the late afternoon I went to the hospital, finding my way to Andrew's ward under the many signs for medical departments such as paediatrics and haematology. I looked nervously at the beds on either side in the open part of the ward but could not spot him and began to wonder if he had been moved; then I found him in a partitioned corner at the far end where he had a little more privacy than most. He looked weak and vulnerable, but showed no other signs of illness or injury. Hearing my deliberate cough he looked up, and after saying hello made me smile at my own awkwardness by asking me how I was.

'Sorry, I'm not used to these places. Tom told me a bit about what happened - you had a blackout.'

'They've diagnosed a subarachnoid haemorrhage. I had one before, a couple of years ago. A small blood vessel here,' he pointed to the back of his head, 'has burst. It's not something that's associated with age particularly, they're puzzled by it. Bring that chair over. Sit down.' His eyes were clear but he was slurring his words slightly.

'Are they looking after you in here?'

'I think so. They're busy all the time, but no doubt they give me as much attention as my case requires.'

Two hospital consultants had talked to him about the possibility of an operation to close off the small artery which had haemorrhaged. They were waiting for test results before deciding whether to go ahead. 'Perhaps my age will make them decide against it. Take my advice, Mark, never be ill. Tell me, how is everything? You look tired.'

'Tough day at work yesterday.' This was hardly the time to tell him my troubles. On his bedside table was a card with the message Hope You Are Feeling Better Soon, and beside it a small amber bottle with a fancy label. 'You've had a card already.'

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