My mom told me that I wasn’t allowed to write about my visit to the hospital this past week. She said all my prior posts have been about some sort of over-exaggerated “trauma” and my next post needs to be more upbeat. At the time, I agreed because she is right. I do enjoy writing about my misadventures more than all the sugar plum, fairy dust and rainbow type stuff that happens in my life. My missed flight, blender explosion, stomach bug, lost sweatshirt… all unfortunate circumstances. But I’d like to clarify that I most definitely don’t think I live a sad, depressing life. My life is freaking phenomenal. I’m living in Australia, getting paid to do what I love, all the while exploring a beautiful country. I could write about the serene Gerringong beach I recently frequented, or eating the best sashimi my tongue has every tasted at the Sydney Fish Market, or going on the open bar cruise with my friends as the sun set over the harbor. But, that’s not very nice of me to rub all of that in, nor is it very entertaining. And that’s why, I’m sorry mom, but I’ve got to tell the story about my hospital visit.
I’m going to spare the boring details, but for the past three weeks I hadn’t been feeling too well. Stomach pains, fever, night sweats and such. I saw a doctor, drew some blood, peed some samples, took some pills, but nothing seemed to help much. Right before my housemates and I were about to head to the airport for our 4.5 hour plane ride to Perth, my doctor called and strongly encouraged me to get an ultrasound right away. I heeded her advice and the results revealed I had some unwanted business going on with my appendix. My doctor told me to go straight from the imaging center to the hospital.
Little did I know, my trip to Perth would be replaced with an all-inclusive 8 day, 7 night stay at the lovely, luxurious Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Talk about a 5 star name for a place, and boy did they live up to their name. We’re talking complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner, a reclining bed, high water pressure showers, and being waited on hand and foot at the push of a button.
I have to admit though, my stay didn’t start off on the best foot. There was a lot of waiting around. I’d like to consider myself a relatively patient patient, but when I’m not properly nourished, its another story. Immediately upon my arrival, I was told not to eat or drink anything. Had I gotten a fair warning of this trip, I would have prepared myself one last feast, and at the very least brushed my hair and put on some socks.
After about 6 hours and 30 minutes of waiting in the lobby, 9 hours 28 minutes of fasting (not that I was counting), a courteous man, I liked to think of him as the bell hopper, informed me that my room was ready. He insisted I sit in his wheel chair. I complied, and he escorted me to my suite where I was greeted by three other ladies who had already begun their holiday. We all shared one spacious room, but had curtains that, when closed, created our own private dwelling. At first, I was a bit uneasy and skeptical about my new roomies because we didn’t speak a single word to each other that night. But the next morning, the sun shone, we opened our curtains, and all of a sudden it was social hour.
Directly across from me lay Irene, the nighttime whimperer. Bless her spirit and her shoulder pain, but it was quite difficult to sleep with her wet-lonely-stray puppy-like moans. To my diagonal was Simone, the sincere sweetheart who kindly advised me to ask the nurses to substitute my meals for salads if I wanted a healthier option. And then to my left, there was the stone-cold legend Lillian, aka Lilypad. I have to confess, I was a bit intimidated by Lilypad at first. Lilypad was a soon-to-be 91 year-old woman who simply had her shit together. If she wanted some apple juice, she’d tell the nurses. If she had to poop, she’d tell the nurses. If she needed some more pain meds, she’d tell the nurses. The woman knew what she wanted and I admired that. When we got to talking, I realized Lilypad was as kind, bright, and humorous as they come. She told me the story of how she ended up in here. She had just finished with her physical therapy appointment, and went outside for her driver to pick her up. When the driver arrived, he (like he always does) opened the door for her. Lilypad placed her hand on the window to help her balance, and without noticing the driver rolled up the window and crushed her index finger. Apparently blood squirted everywhere and her finger was hanging on by a thread. The driver turned blue. Lilypad quickly gained control of the situation and yelled at her driver “don’t pass out yet, you have to drive me to the hospital!”
Fortunately, Lilypad was able to get her finger reattached, and a few days later she was back at it strolling around the room with her walker.
One night, Lilypad rolled her way over to Irene and my bed with a precarious look on her face. Before I could ask what was up, she exclaimed “there’s a strange man in my bed!” Now, Lilypad does have her life all figured out, but she had told me the story about her decapitated finger three separate times, so I thought she was losing her mind a bit. But shame on me for thinking such a thought. I look over and see that there was indeed an old ball-capped man snuggled underneath Lilypad’s covers. My roomies and I started dying laughing (clarification: not dying, just laughing). David, as we shortly after found out, had mistaken Lilypad’s bed for his own. The nurses helped guide him back to his own bed. I joked with Lilypad that she should have let him stay the night. She was repulsed, and stated “oh no no no, he is definitely not my type.” I’m telling you, this lady knows what she does and doesn’t like. Respect.
Lilypad, my other roomies, and I had a quiet next couple of days as our nurses catered to our specific needs. As you can imagine, my mother was a bit concerned with my situation and called in every few seconds wanting to ask the doctor’s questions about every possible thing she had googled about the appendix. My questions for the doctors were more urgent. When would I be able to stop fasting and finally get to stuff my face with a high quality meal? Once I had that question answered, I moved on to an even more important one. Chelsea Handler was performing at the Syndey Opera House on Thursday night and some of my teammates and I had purchased tickets for the show a long time ago. Every time my team of doctor’s entered my curtained room to give me an update I reminded them about this event, and in my most polite voice I asked if I could be released to go to this event. On each occasion, the doctors told me that it shouldn’t be a problem.
When the day finally arrived, I reminded my nurse about my plans. She said she wasn’t informed about this departure and had to check with the doctors. She came back a few moments later and told me that the Big Dogs (the ones above my doctors) wouldn’t let me go for liability reasons. I threw myself a 5 minute internal pity party, but then did some logical thinking that went as follows:
Lillypad is a grizzled veteran. She told me herself that she has always been a hard-nosed woman and knows what she wants. She’s gained priceless experiences through this philosophy and is extremely satisfied with her life. I want to be like Lilypad. If I want to be like Lilypad, I need to heed her advice and do what I want. Furthermore, I highly respect my nurses and doctors, but I also highly respect Lilypad, my plans, and Chelsea Handler. I am in the hospital to get better. They say laughter is the best medicine. Chelsea Handler will provide an abundance of laughter. Thus, if I go see Chelsea Handler my body will receive an abundance of medicine and I will be more like Lilypad. Therefore, it is in my best interest to go to Chelsea Handler.
So it was settled. I was breaking out of that joint that night. For the sake of anonymity, I’m going to change my accomplice’s name to Shmeelin Shwinters. I informed Shmeelin Shwinters of my plan and told her to meet me in the lobby at 6:15 on the dot. I gathered a few necessities and then shut my curtains, signifying it was go time. If I ran into a nurse I would tell them I was going downstairs to see my friends (wink wink) and hang out at the hospital cafe (wink wink), and that I wouldn’t be long (wink wink). I was able to slide out of the place and into the elevator unnoticed. Shmeelin and I escaped out the back door, headed to the train station, and into the Sydney Opera House.
The escape was well worth it. The show was hilarious, I felt better with every laugh and felt as though I had a dose of Lilypad’s badassness running through my veins. When I got back to my pad the nurse was a bit worried and upset I was gone for so long, but I was able to smooth talk her and patch things over. I received my nightly dose of IV antibiotics and then conked out. The next day I was cleared to go home. The goodbyes to my roomies were bittersweet, but I knew the timing was right.
This hospital trip appears to be a bit bigger of a blip than all my prior mishappenings, but I believe it’s all a matter of perspective. Weird stuff happens in life. Your finger could get smashed in a window any second. But if I learned anything from Lilypad during my stay, it’s that you just have to roll with the punches. The more experiences you gain in life, the more you grow as a person. Lilypad knows what she wants in life. She knows the kind of juice she wants, she knows the kinds of men she will allow to sleep in her bed, and she knows that sometimes you have to live on the edge and break out of the hospital to go see Chelsea Handler. May the lessons of the legendary Lilypad be of guidance to us all.