My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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getting my brain back

7.20 p.m. I’m on the old chaise longue on the deck, beside me a wine glass full of ginger ale, a cup of tea, a glass of water, and a small bit of chocolate that I can’t finish. Liquids is the order of the day; my mouth feels like a gunny sack. My son has just taken the evening shift; Anna was there at the hospital when I woke, brought me home and fed me chicken soup. There’s an ugly bandage on my neck and a bottle of Tylenol 3 at the ready; my brain is fluffy with fog, and I am alive. (What IS a gunny sack?)

The hardest part of the day was not the fasting, though as you’ve heard, I am addicted to my morning brew, and my blood sugar insists on being replenished regularly. It was not the waiting that’s such a big part of this kind of experience; I of course had the latest “New Yorker” with me, and when I began to fear I’d finish it, a nurse produced the recent Hollywood issue of “Vanity Fair” with spirit-boosting pix of handsome men. It was not the incessant cheery chatter about Toronto real estate and where to get the best croissants, which was painful to my hungry belly only briefly. There was one shock, the entry into the chilly operating room, the light blindingly harsh, the table and scary equipment lying in wait, and hordes of people in blue or white uniforms and face masks sizing up my neck, literally and figuratively. But the nurse spoke soothingly and covered me with warm blankets, and I was soon out cold.

No, the worst part were the flashbacks of my mother, hospital aficionado. The feeder needle taped to the hand, how many times did I see hers so adorned; the blue gowns, the ridiculous slippers and shower cap, the wheelchair, the team of experts peering intently, the smell of hospital and the sounds, curtains being opened and closed, the squeak of rubber shoes – it all brought back the nightmare of my mother’s many crises. Anna even said that as I was waking, the droop of my mouth and the nodding of my head were just like her.

My mother was a happy hypochondriac whose paranoia was bolstered by many bouts of actual bad health – heart problems, cancer. I do not want to turn into her.

But there is one essential difference. As she checked my chart, the nurse said, as no one ever said to my mother, “I see you’re a very healthy woman.” Touch wood touch wood touch wood.

Tomorrow coffee! Wine! Movies and magazines! Thank you St. Michael’s Hospital and Dr. Anderson. And thank you to my well-wishers, every one. Your good thoughts – and the medical system put in place by Tommy Douglas – got me through in a snap. When can I sing?



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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