Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Leaving New York, never easy

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….

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I wanna wake up in a city that never sleeps...

Busy times. Today was my last day in my current job, and I start a new one on April 16th. In between, Lady Sane and I are off to New York over Easter, just like we did last year. Oh yes, we do like it out there. Last year we stayed in a hotel right by Times Square, which was interesting, but not something we would care to repeat. So this year we're staying at a more sedate location in the heart of Chelsea village. Should be great fun.

So, expect the blog to be pretty quiet in the interim (and just as I was starting to get on a roll, too). Then again, there's free WiFi where we're staying, and I might take the laptop, so you never know, perhaps there will be a post from the Big Apple.

Back next Wednesday.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

He's not a satirist, he's a very naughty boy

Check out this piece by Terry Jones (he of Monty Python fame). It's a piss poor slice of satire about the situation with the kidnapped British sailors currently being illegally held by the deranged state of Iran for their own egregious propaganda purposes. Jones applies a particularly pernicious brand of moral equivalence that seeks to draw a parallel with the treatment of the sailors by the Iranian regime with some of the methods employed against terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

It's a shame, because I'm a huge fan of Python but I now have no other option than to consider Mr Jones a tosser of the highest order. If you feel like further lowering your opinion of certain members of human society, read some of the comments underneath wherein large numbers of the self-hating left lap up his poorly considered bilge like thirsty goats.

For the record, the abduction of the sailors is an act of piracy, pure and simple. They were operating in Iraqi waters, under the auspices of the United Nations, on behalf of the government of Iraq. Iran's kidnapping and public parading of their hostages serves no purpose other than to stick up two fingers to Britain and the west and to try and buy some sort of bargaining chip in the ongoing row over Iran's intention to enrich uranium. The only conclusion we can draw is that Iran remains a menace to the region, we cannot believe a single word they say about anything and we should double our efforts to ensure that this crackpot Islamic dictatorship never gets its hands on any nuclear material, no matter how innocent they claim their intentions to be.