Alternating Shifts, Midnight Revelations
and An Unexpected Therapist.
If you’ve read my post “The Enemy Within“, then you may remember how that part of this story ended. If not, as it has been a while, let me give you a quick reminder.
I had been sent to Glasgow for surgery to try to repair something which had been implanted the previous year and which had since become faulty. Unfortunately, prior to this replacement surgery, routine blood tests showed that I had some kind of infection. This meant that the procedure couldn’t take place and I was sent home.
Within a day, it was discovered that I had been infected with “subacute bacterial endocarditis”, a nasty bug which likes to latch onto the heart and generally mess it up a bit.
I was immediately directed towards my local hospital to initiate a course of antibiotics, something I was under the impression would take just a few days. However, this particular bacteria could be a stubborn old cookie and I was told I would need to stay in hospital for six weeks.
And that’s where we left off…
I was a sixteen year old, only half a year out of my latest major open heart surgery and looking forward to getting rid of this infection in order take full advantage of the repairs and tweaks done to my heart. So six weeks in hospital was not just a slap in the face, it was a gut punch which totally winded me.
This couldn’t be right?
They couldn’t seriously be telling me that I would need to stay hooked up to an intravenous drip for a month and a half just to get rid of some bug, could they?
Say it quickly and “a month and a half” doesn’t sound so bad does it?
However try, for just a moment, to imagine how long it feels with six weeks of being stuck in a hospital bed ahead of you. Not fun.
Why so long?
Why would I need to stay in hospital for so long when it was just an infection?
I understood it was a particularly nasty one but this seemed so cruel.
However it didn’t matter how unfair I felt this whole situation was. It was made quite clear to my parents and me that, if not treated correctly, this type of infection was incredibly dangerous for someone with a pre-existing heart condition like mine.
While not exactly cheering me up it halted my complaining dead in its tracks (for a short while at least), as I contemplated the fact that there was a blob of bacteria sitting next to my heart trying its best to kill me.
Now I know it wasn’t trying to kill me on purpose, such a group of cells doesn’t have the capacity for thoughts as complex as premeditated murder but still, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the little… fellow.
Room To Spare
I would like to say that, as a very well mannered sixteen year old who fully understood the importance of following the advice of medical professionals, I quickly set aside my grievances about a long stay in a hospital bed.
If I did write that here then one or the other of, or even both at the same time, my parents would erupt with laughter or go into a state of shock as the repressed memories of my, let’s say slightly antagonistic attitude towards the whole situation, come flooding back.
I was pretty miserable. And not only in the regular teenage boy being a teenage boy kind of a way (although that was probably in there too) but also in the, “I’ve already had to miss so much and now I’m stuck in this tiny hospital room while missing out on all the fun things my friends are doing with their perfectly functioning bodies and it’s really unfair”, kind of a way.
Which must have made it that much more difficult for my parents, as they were also dealing with all of this and couldn’t even put my abrasive attitude down to my (only) being a moody teenager.
There was a small unit near the paediatric ward where parents could stay if their youngster required an extended hospital internment.
Six weeks more than qualified for at least one parent to be close at hand the whole time.
I had been concerned that, because I was now sixteen, they wouldn’t allow mum or dad to stay (a situation which would have gone extremely well with my parents…) but I was assured that their support was just as important at my age so they were given one of the available beds.
Some nights, my mum would stay over and get the bus home while my dad drove in, then he would stay overnight and drive home while my mum got the bus back to the hospital. They made sure I didn’t have to go through one single moment of this whole ordeal alone.
The Importance of Good Grammer
Con of being in a children’s ward: Screaming babies all night.
Pro of being in a children’s ward: Free television.
In the adult wards there was a charge for using more than the basic channels but where I was staying I could get everything, TV and movies for free.
One morning my mum came through from her room a little earlier than usual and told me to turn on the TV.
In the parents unit, on mornings after her stay over, mum had started watching some old shows, notably, one about a successful but unlucky psychiatrist living in Seattle.
I had never heard of “Frasier” before and when my mum told me to turn on the television and the opening credits began (I will never completely get “tossed salads and scrambled eggs” out of my head), I rolled my eyes at what was surely going to be a twenty minute snooze fest that I would need to pretend to enjoy because mum was so excited for me to watch it.
The instant Frasier began to speak my ears pricked up, I knew the voice from somewhere. I must have seen him in something else at some point but it was his voice rather than the face that was so familiar… and evil.
Now it had my attention, the show would not give it up easily. I laughed most of the way through the first episode and when I wasn’t laughing, I was cringing behind a pillow at just how painful some of the ridiculous scenarios were.
The ex-cop dad who had absolutely no time for his sons high brow shenanigans quickly seated himself as my favourite character.
It would have been easy to fall into a terrible habit of staying asleep in my hospital bed for hours on end every morning, only raising my head when I needed my drip changed.
Instead, I had something to wake up for.
Eight o’clock, every morning, the “Frasier” double bill would keep me in a routine that probably helped in allowing me to continue feeling human during those weeks.
The night after watching that first episode I was lying in bed, just on the cusp of sleep when sudden realisation hit me. I sat bolt upright and called my mum (I was allowed to use my phone) who at this point was back home probably trying her best to sleep.
She answered almost immediately, the panic clear in her voice as she asked me what was wrong.
“He was Sideshow Bob mum…” I shouted enthusiastically down the phone, “from The Simpsons.”
She hung up on me.
Wherever you are reading this from, be it Nepal, The USA, Finland, The UK, China or any of the many other counties that I have been amazed to see my posts being read in, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I truly hope that whatever the situation is like there, you are doing well, staying safe and most importantly, being excellent to each other.
- Keep people close.
Of course there are people out there whose situations make it impossible to have family/friends around all the time but if you are going through a difficult experience and there is an opportunity to have someone sit with you through it, grab it with both hands. I know that if I had been forced to go through those weeks in hospital without my parents there, it would have been a much darker time.
- “Frasier” is played by Kelsey Grammer.
Just in case you didn’t get the joke in my spelling earlier in this post.
Obligatory Blog Quote
“I will not have you turning a minor, albeit annoying situation into a Martin Scorsese film!”Dr Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer)