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Another merry adventure in Sickland

Hello earthlings! I greet you on my return from Planet Take Care of Me I’m Sick. You might have been wondering about the long pause in my incessant blogging. I hope you regarded it as a welcome holiday from Beth. At the time, she was in Mt. Sinai Hospital taking a most unwelcome holiday from her life. 

Yes, it happened again. On Friday I went for a vigorous walk with Ruth and then to my desk where I was happily working on an essay when, about 4 p.m., WHAMMO, excruciating pain. I’d been feeling something but not too serious so ignored it. This was nothing like last time in March, which was a gentle pain for months beforehand. This was killer. I was gasping, nearly on the ground. Robin my dear tenant was distraught. He helped me take two of the Tylenol 3’s I had on hand luckily from the last event so I could actually stand, put my charger in my purse, and order an Uber. This time I went to Mt. Sinai Emerg, not St. Mike’s. I’m hospital shopping.

By the time they got me through Emerg I was writhing in pain. Lesson: exaggerate your symptoms in Emerg or they’ll put you lower on the triage list. When I arrived I was not feeling too bad because of the strong Tylenol, but it wore off quickly. Oh the blessing of finally being wheeled on a stretcher through those big doors and into Receiving, where they figure out the moaning package they’ve just been delivered and cover you in warm blankets. I was shaking head to foot. Severe pain turns you into another person. All that matters is for it to stop. 

It was another appendix attack, this one far worse than the last, and after a CT scan, the same situation – so much inflammation and scar tissue, too dangerous to operate, they needed to get me back to some semblance of health before operating. So, like last time, antibiotics. Only since they were concerned they might have to operate if I didn’t get better and there was an emergency, they forbad me to eat. Only ice chips allowed.

For three days.

So that had me in a good mood! No food plus lack of sleep, a lot of pain, and the joys of hospitals. My first night I was royalty, in a single room with a window, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. But no, next morning they moved me to a four bed ward. Hell is other people, especially when those people have the windows. Windows not only mean light, they have SILLS, valuable real estate in those crowded cubicles. 

One of the first things I had to do was cancel my life – two classes, two doctor’s appointments including a colonoscopy which was very hard to get and was intended to stave off this very event, several meetings. Good thing Robin is here to keep things running, and Sam came over to water. There was a heat wave. I think. 

Oh so much to tell you. More anon. Just to say that yesterday morning was one of the worst ever; I’d had no sleep – hospital nights are pure torture -, no food, was in pain, utterly wretched. They came to see me – the gastro-entero team, arrayed in front of the bed surveying the sorry evidence – and concluded that despite appearances, I was improving and could eat. So I had food, no much, but enough, and last night a sleeping pill. This morning, with food and sleep and hope, different story. My Nigerian nurse Chinella said, “Now I see the real you coming out.”At least I think that what she said, in her accent through layers of mask and plastic face shield. Yes, I regained my sense of humour and got to know my roommates. I really felt for them, as finally this morning I was disconnected from my tether – the IV – and got into real clothes and began to pack. They’ll all be stuck there much longer. 

I knew I was better because this morning I started to jot notes about the experience to share with you. I’d done nothing until then but lie there dozing and scrolling on my phone. 

So though I do not feel lucky that this part of my body is determined to bring me down, I do feel extremely, incredibly lucky to have survived this twice and to be home. My roses are out and beyond beautiful. There are birds. I can walk without rolling a machine stuck into my arm. I know where things are and can eat when and where I want. I just had a shower, oh Jesus, hot, private, clean, a shower! And tonight, my own bed. Beyond delicious.

Once again, as always – thank you Tommy Douglas. I walked out of there without paying a cent. But I worry for our health care system. All of us in my room were older women, I the youngest. It’s happening, the boomers collapsing – soon, I said to my friends there, disaster, everyone in the hospitals will be over 70! And, said Roselynn from Jamaica, all the mental hospitals will be filled with young people who are having a really hard time right now.

That’s cheery hospital talk.

My belly feels pregnant, swollen with nearly ten pounds of fluid. 

Two lovely moments and I’ll end for today – a young doctor appeared at my bed in his scrubs. “Good news,” he said, “you can go home.” We chatted and I admired the lanyard around his neck, colourful weaving with a Pride flag and another attached. “That’s the Indigenous sovereignty flag,” he said. “I thought I should display all my credentials. I’m Métis.” 

What pleasure to see this young doctor so proud of his ancestry. He was one of the only Canadians on staff I spoke to the entire time; almost all the personnel are immigrants, and thank God for them. And my daughter, and perhaps the young man himself, would dispute whether he is Canadian. But to me, he is. Despite our hideous failings with his people, the country has done something right for him. 

I waited for a porter to come get me; they have to wheel you out. Finally he arrived, a handsome young man with a wheelchair, at least his eyes looked handsome above the mask. “My prince has come,” I said. “My chariot awaits.” He wheeled me to the door, and within minutes Monique was there to pick me up.

Home. Birds. Roses. Recovery. It rained this morning – sweet hot wet air. The BLOG! The internet was so bad there, I couldn’t communicate, it killed me. I want to post a few pictures but my phone must be on some other setting and won’t let me. Maybe tomorrow.

Guard your health with your life, my friends.

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7 Responses to “Another merry adventure in Sickland”

  1. theresa says:

    Oh take care. I hope there's a point where your appendix can come out. A friend went through something like you're enduring and his was finally taken out. A brief recovery and now he's going on with his life! Sending love.

  2. beth says:

    That sounds like a plan, Theresa! Stay tuned. Thanks for your good wishes.

  3. Claire Speed says:

    Glad to hear you're back home and out in your garden. You're right Beth about guarding our health. What else is there? Stay well.

  4. OMG! What a horrendous ordeal you went through! I can feel your relief at being "let out" and returning to your home and garden. But did they not operate? What causes appendix attacks? Will they eventually take it out?
    Juliet

  5. beth says:

    Thanks, Claire and Juliet. Yes, I could not be more grateful to be home, though of course immediately I saw all the things that need doing that I can't do at the moment. I'm asking friends for help. They could not operate because the area was inflamed with infection and there's scar tissue, so it would be dangerous to cut. Like last time, they are fixing me enough with antibiotics and then definitely we'll take it out. It'll take time. No one in my family has ever had anything wrong with their appendix, and I pride myself on my good health. However. The powers that be had other plans. As they always do.

  6. alandmillen says:

    Beth, how can you possibly write with such élan after going through that brutal experience? Having never spent a night in hospital in my life, I'm touching all the wood I can get my hands on. Wishing you an uneventful recovery. Easy does it, for a little while at least. Alan

  7. beth says:

    Keep touching that wood, Alan! I think I so miss my blog when I'm away that I love writing in it when I get home. Thank you for your good wishes.

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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