The staff were brilliant...even the cleaning ladies were cheerful and smiley though one of the male cleaners on the ICU ward regaled me with a long...very long...story about the gospel singing group he belonged to...I was half expecting him to break into song but he didn't.

My Consultant...doesn't that sound grand altogether...was as mad as a box of wet cats...she looks about thirty and drips with necklaces and bangles...beautifully dressed and smelling of terribly expensive perfume, she'd hurl herself onto my bed and peer closely at me while patting my arm and telling me I'd been really ill...her minions were two drop dead handsome Black men...I tended to be dribbling over them rather than listening to a word Katherine said...they never said much, probably because they couldn't get a word in edge ways.

Then there was a Roger...a proper Dubliner with an accent you could cut cheese with...Roger was the chief physiotherapist who patiently walked at snails pace up and down the corridors while I struggled to stay reasonably upright and not keel over. My first meeting with Roger was when he folded my bed in half and sort of squashed me inside it...to clear the lungs he said. I just thought he was a sadist.

One of the night nurses on the ICU stands out for her lovely kindly manner...it was she, another Katherine, who made me toast and tea in the middle of the night and then chattered away happily until I'd eaten it all. It was all part of a cunning plan to get me to eat of course but she turned it into a treat instead of force feeding...

Everyone on the ICU wears scrubs...it's impossible to tell who is a nurse and who is a consultant surgeon 'cos they all look exactly the same apart from Nick who wore a different sort of a uniform to indicate he was in overall charge. All the men wear their heads almost shaved so they all look much alike anyway...apart from one Black man who had dreads tied back with ribbons...and most of the women wore their hair in ponytails...I gave up with trying to remember names in the end.

Once on the ordinary ward it was much easier to tell who was who...and they wore their name tags as well so I could always resort to peering at their bosoms...there weren't any male nurses on the ordinary ward. There was one student nurse who chose me every time she had to try out a new procedure...probably because I didn't much mind and she was always under supervision anyway. One day she had to give me the 'tummy injection' which is to prevent blood clotting...she asked me some time later was it alright? I told her it was bleeding terribly...poor girl nearly fainted with fright so I had to hastily tell her I was teasing is all...she told the Staff nurse who immediately told everyone else...they thought it hilarious...poor Cara didn't.

The porters play a hugely important role of course...taking patients here and there and with an endless stream of patter, they work incredibly hard and are unfailingly cheerful. I'd progressed to walking on my own and had got as far as Cardiac Care one afternoon when a shout from the other end of the corridor announced the arrival of a porter pushing a wheel chair as though his life depended upon it while waving frantically at me...apparently he'd been told I'd gone awol and was due for a chest x-ray...now this minute.

He began by telling me I came from bandit country...something I heard several times when asked where I hailed from...then we went in the lift with about a dozen people and he began to tell a long story about his parents... everytime he mentioned either his Mam or his Da he had to cross himself and say God rest them...that wasn't too bad in the lift but while we were whizzing up and down corridors to the x-ray dept it took twice as long as it need have done what with all the God rest thems and the crossing himself.

Among the usual people you'd expect to see roaming about the corridors and wards were the priests...one was little and ancient and paid me no heed at all...the other,Father Joe, was tall and gaunt and looked as though he ought to be in a film about Ireland in the '50's...he'd look longingly in my direction every time he came on the ward but stopped short of offering me communion which entailed him fishing about in his pocket for a plastic bag containing some communion wafers and doling them out to anyone who wasn't actually comotose...didn't even say a prayer either which I thought was a bit off but the ladies didn't appear to mind.

I'd better stop before you all begin to yawn...