(isn’t that a fun word? there are lots of words I hate, but that one is so nice to say…seg-way. seg-way. seg-way)
On Thursday morning I packed up my bathing suit and towel, as I do every morning, and grabbed a bus ticket and my iPod, fully intending to head to the pool and get a solid 1.5 hour swim in before I committed to any big plans for the day.
As I was leaving the apartment (or attempting to), Gramma comes up behind me and forcefully tells me that she is coming with me because first we are going to the doctor. Okay, so I had been having some lower back pain and unusual cramping and a headache, but I was completely willing to blow that off and just get on with my day. But not Gramma. Oh no. She hates doctors in Canada. Hates Western Medicine. If he wasn’t married, I’m pretty sure she would marry the local naturopath in White Rock, who she pretty much worships. But German medicine? She’s all about that. She swears by the doctor here.
So off we go. And within 10 minutes after getting to the clinic, I am getting my first ultrasound. 10 minutes after that, we’re sent to the hospital. So we walked there. That’s how not-very-sick I was feeling. I already thought this whole thing was getting blown out of proportion and we weren’t even half an hour into it. We got to the hospital and I’m immediately given another ultrasound. Then I get hooked up to an IV and am told I am not going anywhere for a few days.
A few DAYS?!
I was so, so, so super choked.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what being at St. Josephs Hospital was like, let me just say that I really, really, really felt humiliated at this point by my lack of German. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time now, and as much as I might still struggle with it, I have learned to advocate for myself and ask good questions and take care of business. So imagine how I must have felt, 3 days after my 28th birthday, to not have a translator at the hospital, but rather someone who totally takes over the conversation and rarely, if ever, let’s me in on what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong: I love my Gramma. Y’all know that. But it still was upsetting to me to have plans being made almost behind my back, even though I was sitting right there. I never knew what they (she and the doctors) were laughing about, and of course sensitive me always assumed I was being laughed at. I didn’t know what was going on or what was wrong. I was pretty mad, actually. I had a lot of feelings go through me these last few days, and few of them were pleasant. There were some doctors and the odd nurse who took a stab at speaking English with me, but truth be told, it was a very lonely and isolating 3 days.
And things had to get worse before they got better.
Like I said, I didn’t totally understand what was going around in the minds of these doctors and technicians, but somewhere along the way I gathered that I had a kidney stone. But that’s why I was very confused when I received not one but two enemas, plus a hysteroscope, two very painful catheters put in by a student nurse, and a round-the-clock IV dripping who knows what into my veins. Blood work and urine samples were taken every 4 hours. I feel like a human pin cushion.
At St. Josephs Hospital, there were 20 TV channels that I could watch. 20 channels in exclusive German. Let me tell you, you haven’t watched Glee, South Park, The Simpsons, ER, and House until you’ve watched them ridiculously dubbed over by over-the-top voice actors and actresses. I mean, really, there is only one Lisa Simpson and there is only one Rachel Berry. But it was pretty hilarious (as well as frustrating), even though I felt out of the loop with shows I watch all the time. (okay, I don’t actually watch South Park…at least not anymore!).
There were some weird differences between this hospital and ARH or Peace Arch, the only two hospitals I have stayed in in Canada (don’t even get me started on my hospital stay in South Africa!). First of all, the doctors and nurses don’t wear gloves. That seemed really weird to me. Even when changing IV’s and dealing directly with blood; no gloves. Also, when you need to give a urine sample you are given a dixie cup. Like an everyday drinking glass. And there is nowhere official to put the pee cup, so you just leave it wherever you want, and then someone (without gloves on) just comes along eventually and if they happen to notice a cup of pee they casually pick it up and walk away. It doesn’t even say your name, so how they know it’s your sample is beyond me. Another thing is, they don’t really wear scrubs. The doctors have white coats, yes, but the only dress code I picked up on was that the hospital colours were white and blue. And blue jeans count. So do white jeans (which should really be outlawed). Speaking of clothing, they don’t have any hospital gowns. Whatever you arrive in, that’s what you wear. That was super strange to me, especially since they did so many procedures on me…you’d think it would be a heck of a lot easier for everyone if I didn’t have to take all my clothes off every time they needed a sample (sorry, TMI, I know).
I found out yesterday I was on the surgical unit. That would explain why the 84 year old lady, whose name is Esme, that I shared the room with had only one eye. I also found out that they were initially planning to remove my appendix. Hence the surgical unit.
Just since I am already being so honest here, and since I promised myself that this summer my blog was more of a diary, I would just like to point out the most painful part of this whole experience…It wasn’t the poking and prodding, or the (for lack of a better term), invasion of privacy. It was something the OB/GYN said casually to the nurse during my hysteroscope…he told her, in English, “Nope, nothing there. Vacant womb”. Why is that SO painful to me? Um, it’s not like I had any suspicions that I was pregnant or anything…it was just the way he said it, like there should have been something there, that made me feel like I had lost something…maybe that doesn’t make sense. Plus all those ultrasounds…I might not be trained in reading sonograms, but I know enough about human anatomy to know that I was first seeing my liver, down to my kidneys, further down to my appendix, and then yep, there is was…a dark, empty womb. I don’t want to have another ultrasound until it’s showing a high-kicking little peanut for me to love.
Anyways, it was a rough 3 days that I don’t want to repeat, but I will admit that the rest I got to have was lovely and the quiet was good for me maybe. I was cut off from everyone except Nikki, as she happened to be the one phone number I know by heart from helping one of the kids learn it. Also, there were 2 nurses who really stuck out to me, because they tried to talk to me even though they felt awkward and silly and inadequate…Kai and Nina, plus my day doctor, Dagmar, who tried to kindly distract me while shoving yet another needle into my unwilling veins.
Something really interesting about those veins of mine? The only one that seemed truly cooperative was the one directly beside my love tattoo. My wrist is now black and blue, but maybe my body chose that place because it knew (and God knew) that I needed all the love I could get…I stared a lot at that IV as it slowly but surely dripped unit after unit of fluid directly into the word, love. The body’s funny like that.
So, that was my little vay-cay segue, and I have (obviously) been discharged and am on the mend. I spent 52 hours in the hospital (and btw, 31 of them were spent fasting from everything but water), but I am not sick anymore. Tomorrow I am going swimming, and I am picking up where I left off.
Getting stronger. Loving myself completely. Knowing God deeper.