"Recently, as a side effect of my fortnightly hormone jabs I get to maintain my red-cell blood count, I have incurred painful hands and feet 24/7 which frequently keep me awake three or four nights a week with interrupted sleep. During such early morning hours, I have found my mind travelling back to other sleepless nights I experienced over sixty years ago.
As a general rule, I usually sleep well on a night and wake up refreshed, but that was not always so. For almost nine months of my life as an 11-year-old boy, I found myself in a men's hospital ward. I had been run over by a wagon and had incurred life threatening injuries. Being in constant pain, I was unable to sleep a wink. I can still recall the stillness of the dark as other patients stirred in their dreams, coughed, winced in pain, snored and farted; oblivious to my very presence and all other life around them.
I always rejoiced inwardly at six am when the rattle of the medicine tray doing its early morning rounds would bring noise back into the ward as sleeping patients would be woken up for their pill and morning jab. Imagine it: one minute they'd be fast asleep and the next they'd find a nurse feeding them a tablet while her friend gave them a Ronnie Corbett up their Khyber Pass as she stuck in a needle whilst saying, 'Just a little prick. You won't feel a thing, dear!' Then, when all the ward was awake, that was the time when I wanted to go to sleep!
The worse thing about being awake throughout the night on a ward I found, was hearing some poor soul breath his last and being aware of his body being removed and his bed being made up with fresh linen for another day and another patient. I feel so sorry for all those people who don't sleep at night, especially those folk in hospital who face the darkness alone. In many ways, I don't suppose it's much different to having to face one's future life alone, particularly when circumstances seem too dark to navigate the storm.
As I am composing this 'Thought for today' the clock has just chimed 2.00 am and suddenly an ambulance siren breaks the silence of the night as it speeds towards its emergency patient. My thoughts instinctively flit between the hospital ward of my youth and the angels of mercy on their ambulance run now. I hope deep down that they arrive in time and that there is no need for any more fresh bed linen tomorrow morning. I'm feeling tired again so it's back to bed for another few hours to give Sheila a Ronnie Corbett. I wish!" William Forde: October 20th, 2016.