. . . of all the hardships a person had to face none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
Our son, Brendan, turned 18 on March 14; on March 20th he got sick with what we thought was the flu. However, as the days passed, he didn't get better. Then on Thursday morning (March 22), he got up at 6 a.m. and came into our room to tell us that he felt really sick. We still thought that it was the flu and so we encouraged him to lie on the couch and watch television and drink gingerale. By afternoon, I began to realize that it was something unusual because he didn't want to eat and when he tried to eat part of a banana, he promptly threw it up. My husband and I talked about what was wrong and worried; however, since he quit throwing up and didn't seem to have a high temperature or severe pain, we still assumed it was the flu.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that at 6:20 I left for choir. It was my first practice since the term had begun in late January and my first practice since returning to Vancouver. Choir - as usual - was great. However, while I was gone, my husband began doing Google searches and it began to look more and more like appendicitis. I don't know why we didn't think of it earlier. I guess we both expected more pain or a more dramatic fever. Meanwhile, Brendan tried to eat a popsicle and threw that up and his pain increased. The minute I walked in the door after choir we rushed to the hospital. It was 10 p.m. by then and Brendan was in a lot of pain and my husband and I were very worried.
At the ER, we didn't have to wait long before our son was seen. A nurse examined him, then a doctor, then he was taken for an ultrasound. However, I had so recently returned from America's bloated medical system, with its plethora of every type of medical technology imaginable, that the Vancouver General Hospital seemed frighteningly low-tech. Brendan was started on IV fluids and antibiotics. The diagnosis: appendicitis. Still, everything was maddeningly casual, not high-tech and urgent. There weren't even any white coats around and later a doctor told me, "you won't see many white coats at this hospital."
By now, it was 2 a.m. The hospital had taken on that eerie quality that empty places lit by fluorescent lights have, as though you and the other desperate people there are cut off from the rest of the planet. I walked from one part of the ER to another, tried to read a magazine and failed, felt my son's forehead which was getting hotter, and held his hand. Eventually, my husband and I were too tired and worried to do anything but sit and reassure our son and worry. Time crept on and, eventually, Brendan was moved upstairs to the first available bed, which happened to be in the Spinal Unit. Everything was dark and it seemed like a ghost hospital. Two nurses helped get Brendan into bed, but they couldn't tell us much about when he might have surgery. I was getting progressively more anxious and began to regret the fact that we lived in Canada (more on this later) and wished we were in the bustle of an American ER, with surgeons standing by to operate at any hour of the day or night.
By the time Brendan finally got to surgery the following afternoon, I was beside myself with worry. Despite my worry, surgery went well, and during the past few days, we've settled into a routine of sitting with our son in the hospital, helping him with the multitude of small tasks hospital stays are filled with, and spelling each other off for sleep and meals. Brendan is slated to be released tomorrow. As soon as he's home, I'll return to this blog with fresh ideas to share. I'll also return to the series on seniors and medication with some new insights. Until then, time for bed.