So, we’re back from New York. Did I miss anything? Keeping up with real news is very difficult in the US. They covered the sailors being released, but since then their media seems to have been obsessed with this story. Why? Perhaps any American readers can elucidate? I’m only barely aware of who Don Imus is, why is this such big news? For the last two days of our stay CNN seemed to cover nothing else. For British readers who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, cast your mind back to the fuss a few years ago when Robert Kilroy-Silk caused a stink with his ignorant comments about “Arabs” and his programme was taken off air. Now imagine that the mainstream media at the time talked about nothing else for days on end and you get the picture. Baffling.
Banal news coverage aside, we had an excellent time. Freezing cold weather all weekend didn’t help, but never mind. Being taken to hospital in an ambulance early on Monday morning wasn’t exactly in the itinerary, either. I was awoken at 6am with unbearable pain in my stomach, chest and back and had difficulty breathing. A further, more extreme, episode approximately one hour later resulted in Lady Sane calling 911. I didn’t know what was going on, but it felt rather like what I expect a heart attack would feel like. So fifteen minutes later we’re in an ambulance and headed for St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center on West 12th Street. And here I stayed for the next twelve hours in their emergency room. A series of further bursts of agony occurred between 11am and midday, which was good in a way because up until that point I was beginning to think they didn’t believe me, seeing as I had exhibited no symptoms whatsoever since arriving. I have never been in so much pain in my entire life – it was kind of like all the muscles in my upper body had turned to concrete, rendering me immobile and on the verge of hyperventilation. Each attack would last two or three minutes but would feel like several hours. A couple of shots of morphine later and I was feeling much, much better. I was given a litre of red liquid to drink and was told that I was going for a CAT scan. Lady Sane was there with me throughout, a pillar of strength as always (although worried sick).
To cut a long story short, the CAT scan showed nothing sinister and they believe the episodes were caused by a viral infection in the bowel and an inflamed colon going into spasm. I was prescribed antacids and finally discharged at 8pm. Not exactly how I’d planned to spend our penultimate day in New York, but I was so relieved that there was nothing seriously wrong with me I didn’t care. Knowing now that it was something trivial, it seems rather silly to have spent the whole day in ER. But at the time, when I had no idea what was wrong, I was scared shitless. As was Lady Sane, her sister (also in NYC for the weekend) and my family back home.
It struck me how we take our health for granted and that you cannot appreciate the joy of not being in crippling pain until you’ve experienced a dose of it. Thankfully, mine was short-lived, but it’s certainly made me less complacent and thankful I am generally in good working order. The medical staff that treated me were brilliant (although the nurses in ER are a bit scary – I suppose they have to be) and it was interesting to contrast the experience with British hospitals. It seems to me that, regardless of whether the hospital is privately or state funded, it will be understaffed, over-stretched and its patients subjected to long delays. Still, I did enjoy that morphine….