Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Postcards From Canada (with my loving father)

Snippets from a road trip through B.C. Canada with The Sociopath and L/U (Lazy-slash-Useless) - Endearing familial pet names we had designated to each other after only a few days of being in each other's company.

Canada Day 143 Years young - 2010.

1.10pm, 19º, 20 kms away from Spencer's Bridge (where the Cherry stop is).

TS is BURSTING for a piss… "of course it's illegal to piss outside here" - Canada. 
L/U smirks in schadenfreude at his discomfort - it's the small pleasures in life. 
We're being followed by a band of Bikies, they pass us as we pull off to piss - due to older age, TS can't hold it in any longer.

L/U thinks "I'll wait for the cherry stop, for a toilet with paper". Wishes in times like this she had a penis to piss standing up. Looks at the amount of distance on the map to go - *groans*

TS feels better - bladder emptied. Informs L/U any toilet at Spencer Bridge will smell. L/U decides she prefers the shitty smell over having to squat au naturale in front of a parent. 

1.36pm, 21º (apparently at this time of year it should be in the 30's), we cross Spencer's Bridge  –  and are now on the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail – back to where we were supposed to be hours ago (a horrific car accident killing many people, including a family, on the public holiday meant a 4 hour detour). L/U is wondering if TS is thinking "Those pesky fucking dead people". With his capability to feel empathy, decides he probably is. 

We're going to TS's "FAVOURITE FRUIT SHOP IN THE WORLD" - Hilltop Gardens at Spencer's Bridge. "Cherries are going to be expensive this year" TS educates L/U in his slightly condescending yet still perverse patriarchal manner. L/U decides the characterisation of "obtuse" from one of his friends was quite an apt description. 

L/U dryly assumes: it must be because of the unseasonably cold weather.

They are expensive.


I would like to report on my outhouse experience - everything went better than expected. Smell: Minimal. Toilet Paper: Check. Looked Clean: No piss on the seat. 
Downside: No tap either. I wondered about the fecal matter flying around, and used my water bottle to wash my hands with after. Hah! like that will help. 

L/U arrives back from the outhouse experience to TS's running commentary:

"Pack of Thieving Cunts! I can buy cherries cheaper in a Supermarket"

L/U ponders - so much for his favourite fruit shop in the entire world theory (he had been talking about this place for nearly the whole of the 5 hour road trip thus far) - now they just another pack of 'Thieving Cunts' - typical. 


Friday, June 8, 2012


Wow, it's been a very long time since I have published anything to this blog. Not that I have many or any readers, I usually just use it as a way to rant about stuff I'm not particularly happy with. 

Occasionally I think of things I should be blogging about, but with the proliferation of crap on the internet combined with my love/hate relationship with writing ... I shrug 'meh' and think 'why bother'. 

So a lot of things have happened in the last year. Firstly and fore most I guess would be that my husband (yep still married) went into hospital last year, did a heart stress test, then an angiogram and the doctors decided that he needed a quadruple bypass STAT, because the four veins pumping blood through his heart were 63%-100% completely blocked. So yeah, that was fun (not really, I dont recommend it. Eat healthy, avoid salty foods, exercise, dont drink coke, and try not to work yourself to death). 

It was pretty stressful for several reasons. first being, his company offered us only two months of his pay to cover the operation which was about 10k short at the time. Yeah that didn't turn out so well for them. Accounting for the fact that he had been working 7 days a week for 9 months, 20 hours a day to finish their film on time, you would have thought they would be more helpful. We weren't sure exactly how we were going to... you know pay to save his life bar asking my dad for his credit card details, which I did. 

The bit that didn't work out for his company was my sister-in-law approaching all his old work colleagues and friends for a loan to pay for his heart surgery.  I think what his company didn't really know, was how universally well known and well liked he is (I don't think he knew either), there was an unbelievable outpouring of offers, loans from friends, old clients and companies, who were willing to put the money up. And then a barrage of threatening phone calls to his employers from various industry people telling them to pay the money or 'they would never work in this industry again' type deal. Of course I got blamed for this 'your name is mud' shit going down by his boss, because my behaviour was as he termed it 'hysterical'. All I had really said to him was I didn't want to deal with particular unhelpful fucktards from his company while my husband was lying in a hospital bed, possibly dying. I didn't tell the world - their behaviour spoke for themselves and was helped spread by other family members who knew a lot more of my husbands friends than I did. I'm still a bit bitter about this. 

So yeah, after the public shaming, they put up the money. Father-in-Law flew in, and husband went through surgery. The surgeons told us it would be about 6 hours of surgery, so around about the 6th hour of surgery, sitting in the sandwich shop downstairs waiting, my head traversing the worst possible territory imaginable, it felt like the first time that I was going to have a full blown debilitating anxiety attack in about 10 years.  You know, the one where every sound becomes peripheral but for the beating wings of the ceiling fan. You look around and see people eating lunch, conversing, laughing, and it's all very surreal and on the outside and kind of in slow motion. Very hard to explain. Extremely painful experience. A lot of excruciating and debilitating fear involved. Generally it involves fetal position on a floor and includes a lot of water shedding. Bit hard in a public space. 

Around the seventh hour, we decided as a family unit, it would be best for us to go upstairs and enquire you know - if he was still alive and stuff (my crying, although uncontrollable, seemed to suggest a terrible sense of foreboding). Why was it taking hours longer than first suggested, why had no one called us. When we came to the ICU where people who have had extreme heart surgery tend to go first to recover, we encountered a lovely male nurse, who explained it was better that we had no news, as this meant the surgery was successful (I'm all in favour of the 'no news is good news' policy [it being the unofficial family motto and all] - but not so much in this case). 

This information abated our fears for another two or so hours until he arrived. We didn't stay, after we saw he was alive, because he was conscious enough to make a 'fuck off' motion with his fingers. One of the most relieving 'fuck off' gestures I have ever seen. We coudn't do anything at that point anyways, as he was in some sterile room behind glass walls, with the beeping machines hooked up showing the green heart blips on the screen, all waveforms and noise, tubes and sterility. He had a hose down his throat which they take out about 10 hours after surgery so he couldn't talk. And he was pretty out of it - as you would imagine for someone who had just had their chest sawn in two, their veins harvested from all over their body, replacing the faulty ones in the heart, patched up and grafted onto.

Yeah. Horrible. I felt a lot of empathy for the families going through the same thing we were. There is a lot of praying and crying happening in that ward. For me it was towards the end of the operation, when you think it should be over but you have no idea of what is going on, I was screaming serenity prayers in my head, where my inside voice was panic stricken, overwrought and quite honestly - mad. Internally I felt mad. Generally, I would like to think I am relatively stoic person in times of extreme chaos, being relatively used to it. This was different, it was very hard to dull this internal voice or calm it with anything. Especially when the prayers cant dull the internal screaming. And the prayers turn into screams themselves. It's the negotiating with god stage... I think. 

At this point, I would like to say that the Singapore General Hospital heart surgeons were of the highest calibre. The nurses too, were exceptional. 

I guess one of the good things that came out of it: on his death bed, mortality in mind, my husband decided we should be together, and forgave me (a little bit) my transgressions. Separation ended. Kind of a drastic measure to get to that point though. Slightly extreme in my opinion. 

It wasn't the end of the journey either, not by a long shot. There was complications involved after the surgery. Of course, what else would one expect. Smooth sailing? ....Hah!

Mentally it started post surgery and Hubby self diagnosing using his internet doctoring skills that he'd acquired from his vast googling experience. *Here is another tip - dont fucking google ANYTHING when a loved one is dealing with this kind of extreme life threatening shit in hospital. It will just freak you the fuck out. Listen to your health care professionals. Hubby had decided he was suffering from kidney failure, then according to him one of his lungs had collapsed, and a slew of various other ailments. It was horrible to go through and to make sure that none of that was happening. He was about 30 kilos over weight too, which did not help. And the way information spread through his family made me feel like I was a cast member in an ongoing plot line saga on Coronation Street. 

Unfortunately, what did happen was his coughing was so severe it led to him having fits, and seizures, and eventually destroying his chest bone, the wire designed to fuse his chest bone together again, serrated it to the point where it was reduced to shards of bone and dust - the chest bone completely disintegrated. Never to be put together again. Yep, Humpty Dumpty style. It went there. 

Both his father and I took turns staying in the hospital with him through this whole experience - we all lived in his hospital room. On one of my mornings about a week and a bit after the bypass operation and two weeks into the hospital stay, the doctors came in to have have a look at his chest. They brought out their implements, and using a long cotton bud on a stick started prodding at his chest wound. Which then basically spontaneously combusted, blood and fluid shooting about two feet high into the air (I think I may have screamed a little - or gasped, I'm not sure which, there was definitely some intaking of air). Even though the medical professionals were trying to act calm, you could tell by the furtive glances they exchanged (He had about 3-5 specialist doctors by this time to deal with different areas of his failing body), that this was highly unusual. They undid the stitches in his chest and stuck some wadding into the  gaping hole, letting the liquid (probably about 2 liters worth) seep out over the next couple of hours. He had been complaining to them about this for quite a few days now. The coughing, the feeling like his chest was bursting. I think doctors generally evoke the concept of patience to let the body heal itself. It kinda didn't work in this case. I'm guessing there was very few solutions. I would have opted for the induced coma, but I think this option would have been ruled out to his just having had quadruple bypass surgery. 

After a couple of hours of wound seepage, the doctor came back in, and performed some in room surgery. Which consisted of undoing all the stitches holding his chest together, and cutting some of the skin away without any anesthetic. Mainly to have a look inside about what the fuck was going on. It was decided then he would have to go back into surgery (Duh), be reopened, so they could have a look around and try and repair the damage. Until surgery, which was supposed to be scheduled in that night, he was to be put on this life saving machine called a VAC. We thought it was life saving, for the first few hours. It's designed to act as a vacuum and suck all the fluid out of the chest, providing a sterile sponge to fill holes and plastic covering for the wound. Pics or it didn't happen proof below. 

Then the plastic surgeons started coming around and discussing the operations that might possibly be happening depending on the extent of damage to the chest bone which was not entirely known at this point. The events in motion were starting to become incredibly blurry again. Unfortunately, the operating theatre that night was taken up by some emergency case, and our time slot was taken. This was on a Friday night, and his surgeon had previous commitments over the weekend, so nothing could be done. I was kind of angry at the surgeon for putting his altruistic and philanthropic commitments first - Charity cycle in some race for something or other in Malaysia. Booked in months before hand. Didn't he know my husband was dying for fucks sake. These are the times when you have to surrender to the fact you have no control over anything. So hubby was bumped till Monday. The VAC nearly killing him over the weekend. Every time he coughed it sucked in so hard that when I came back in to see him the sponge vac was basically eating a big hole into his chest. You could see the layers of fat and skin and it just got worse. He couldn't sleep he couldn't eat, and this would be an ongoing factor of the rest of his recovery. 

On the Monday he went in again. Another eight to ten hours of surgery.  More of the extreme anxiety which feels like it will kill you. It was slightly odd, because after we had sent him off to the operating theatre to be prepped, we saw his surgeon and sidekick downstairs drinking coffee and laughing. Around three hours after we saw them depart from the coffee shop, we got a call, saying that his heart was fine, the grafted veins repairing nicely, and there was no infection in the bones or inside the chest, but now the other Surgeons were performing the rest of the operation because of his chest bone being destroyed. I thought it must have been cramped in his operating room. He had so many fucking doctors and specialists and surgeons by this point of time. 

His operation was something along the lines of an Radical Sternectomy, I don't know what the proper terminology for it is - it's close to this though. Too many medical terms by this point in time and a very rare operation. Basically they open you up, and move a muscle from your lower abdomen around your body, and stake it between your chest, and this muscle then acts as what used to be the chest bone, hoping to fuse your chest together. I think he was the first one at Singapore General Hospital to have this operation. Months later, I asked him if he knew how they knew to do the operation, it never having been performed in Singapore before. He said they told him they Googled. Special medical Google of course. Again, can I just mention, don't google stuff. It's harrowing, and mostly you will find a bunch of answers from people it did not work for, the ones who stay inside and whinge online, or their loved ones commiserating over their deaths. It makes your feelings a lot more uncontrollable. The ones who it did work for are probably out living their lives. In saying that the support group of people that have had this type of operation and survived consists of about seven people worldwide, used to be eight, but one died. Pretty rare operation. 

It took him much longer to recover in the ICU this time. And quite frankly, we didn't know if he was going to live. The doctor's attitudes are ever hopeful and cautiously positive, they dont actually let you know too much information. I found this to be relatively deceitful after the fact, because they probably as unknowing as you are. Regardless, you come to appreciate good willed dishonesty. Someone needs to be the bearer of hope in times like this. Because it's sure as shit not me. 

His life hung in the balance for about a week or so. I thought he was going to die. It was the fact that he still could not stop coughing, he had stopped eating, and he couldn't sleep in any position, so his body had no restorative powers. They were pumping 2 liters of antibiotics into his veins 3 times a day, as well as medicating him about 6 times a day. They still could not diagnose his cough any more than they could the first time round. The no sleep thing became drastic. He would sit in a chair for about half the day or more, as it was the only position that would reduce his coughing. And this is where he would get maybe 5 minutes nap at a time. Eventually his veins ended up collapsing from the amount of fluids, needles and injections they were putting into him. The doctors were seriously worried it would more likely be an infection that would kill him at this point, and his immune system was so depleted he would not have been able to fight anything off. As the doctors kept warning us, Hospitals were filthy places. Completely harrowing. 

It would come to 3 or 4 am in the morning, the time were people usually die, and thus would come the conversation from his side of the bed - that he didn't think he was going to make it. And he didn't think he could fight on. Heart breaking conversations full of fear to be having at that time of the morning, the most ominous time. And everyone being so exhausted, grumpy, sleep deprived, it was hard. Really really really fucking hard. 

My girlfriend had come from Australia to support me. I thought this would be the best solution for emotional support, being so utterly alone in Singapore, surrounded by family members of his that quite clearly thought little of me, or hated me. I thought my parents should be reserved for situations of death when needing to travel to another country. And we weren't quite there yet. I was awoken one morning in hospital, a few days after the second operation, to her sobbing in tears on the phone - Her partner had died in Northern Ireland. Fuck knows how it could get worse but it did. I then had my only support network pretty much hysterical and emotionally unmanageable because her partner wasn't just dying, he was dead. So one husband dying in hospital, and my best friend's partner dead. Life is grand ain't it?

I spent the next couple of days trying to get her together enough to get on a plane so she could attend his funeral and see his body, while still trying to cope with the fact that my husband might be dying. I couldn't emotionally deal with both things going on at the same time, it became intolerable. Again, I dont recommend this experience to anyone. Now, it feels completely unrealistic but for the ongoing side effects we currently deal with on a day to day basis.

It dragged on, like this blog post. Eventually he forced himself to eat enough and get strong enough that the doctors let him go home to recover, away from the germs they were worried could potentially kill him. With the addendum of doctors visits every couple of days for progress reports. It was obviously extremely relieving when they actually let us all go home.  

Of course after an experience like one of these you kind of ask, what could we have done, what could they have done, to have changed things. To make things less fucked up than they turned out. But it's all hindsight. Husband could have looked after himself better, Surgeons could have maybe acted in more haste and been less perfunctorily about his over fluidy chest. Would have been good if some one hadn't been in critical condition and stole our surgery time. Maybe if he had recovered properly after the first operation, my girlfriend could have gotten to visit her partner quicker, him maybe not dying had she been around. So many variables, to not change anything, so really not worth thinking about. 

In the end we have all been incredibly affected. Husband wont ever be able to lift over 5 - 10 kilos again in his life. As he HAS NO CHEST BONE. Nothing but a flimsy piece of muscle designed for another part of the body trying to hold his shit together. He will constantly be in pain. He wakes up in pain he goes to sleep in pain. It's hard to get used to. The good thing for him is, grocery shopping is a thing of the past. The bad thing for him is, so is basically everything else. No contact sports, no public transport, no lifting shit, nothing with huge crowds that could elbow him in the chest, and pierce his heart.  A reduced diet of 2000 mgs of Salt a day, (he doesn't stick to this one very well) - also hard because sodium is in everything. He can still do his job. Just has a harder time crawling around on the floor plugging computers in, when need be. 

I became oddly fearful after the surgery, more so than usual. Shortly after him moving back to Bangkok,  my husband disappeared for the day, having no phone to contact him by, led to me being at the local police station at 12 am that night, asking them if they had any heart related or accidental deaths reported in the foreigner hospitals. Shit like that. I was skittish and jumping to conclusions out of fear. I also became oddly fearful for other peoples unexplained disappearances. I'm a bit better now, it just seemed to affect me in this way. 

My girlfriend. Well, she started full time university this year. She stayed with us after she came back from the funeral in Europe. Complete mess. She was actually doing university by correspondence when it happened. But doing Physics, Chemistry and Advanced Mathematics while grieving is basically impossible. So we let her cry in her room for four months. We were all going through weird grief processes and shock I guess. 

I wish I could put this together more eloquently. Or write about my feelings more articulately. But it is what it is and I feel lazy today. 

NO FUCKTARD POLICY PT 1 - for me, it's his old company. My husband has, as always (when relating to the others), taken the moral high ground and forgiven them. I however, remain with the attitude they Fucktards. They kind of went bankrupt at the end of the film, and had to sell out to one their most hated competitors. Karma is a bitch.