Sunday, February 3
Malmi hospital, 17:40
Last night had the biggest single snowfall of the winter. Helsingin Sanomat reckoned that 20 centimetres of snow fell, which might well prove true as an average. In our case, however, I could not open the door into the garden because the snow had completely blocked it.
I had to go round from the other door and remove it.
I started and had done about an hour when Irma called me in. She had asked Naa to come and see us. When Naa turned up she rapidly developed cramps of a kind I had not seen before, outside of horror films. The fingers on both her hands twisted and locked. No amount of stroking or soothing would help and as time pass her agony increased.
She confessed that she had had these attacks before but kept insisting that she felt fine. We eventually bundled her into the car and drove her to Malmi hospital. Irma phoned Sampo and he arrived shortly afterwards.
At some point we sit in a box with patterned walls which I photograph.
By the time a doctor sits and talks gently with Naa for almost an hour her hands have locked for between four and five hours. She will alternate between screaming and crying and trying to breathe deeply and slowly to focus on something other than her hands.
As the doctor speaks she will eventually hold up one hand and then the other, and the fingers will unlock of their own accord.
The four of us will return to our house and eat the rest of yesterday’s stew. Irma will then give Naa and Sampo a box of medical tools from her grandfather, and drive them home.
I will go back to the snow work. The drizzle during the afternoon will have made the snow impossibly wet. By the time we have paths again every muscle in my body will ache and I will start shivering.
I will come back indoors, shower in as hot water as I can manage, and go straight to bed. Irma will realise that she has a full-on flu.