Lucky 13

I’m back home again after a week of “insight”. I’m not sure of what words to use but I am glad to be a person where “home is where my hat hangs”. For some reason Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones Diary” comes to my mind. On one hand, I hated the book but I loved the film (which hardly ever happens). On the other hand, I didn’t write a single diary entry during my admittance to Avdelning 52. For each of her diary entries Ms. Jones writes something similar to, “9 st, alcohol units 9, cigarettes 42, calories 4295”. I have no clue what my weight is in stones, but the equivalent of her log during my hospital stay would be, “58 kg, alcohol units 0, cigarettes 0, calories ~1000”. I have absolutely nothing to complain about during my admittance except for the hospital food. They only insisted on one blood sample and the radiation isn’t all that painful.

I could probably blog for the rest of the year and just write about week 13 of 2007. That is not my intention; however, I do have a few comments.

My entire (four-year) career has concerned adverse events (AEs) and pharmaceuticals. Now that I am on the receiving end of side-effects, I feel pretty fortunate. They gave me a list of AEs I may expect from the radiation (headache, hair loss, tiredness and nausea) and I have so far only experienced headaches and “loss of appetite”. The irony is that when I look at the label for my Panadol (paracetamol), which I currently take for my headaches, the list is twice as long. However, these AEs supposedly only occur in less than 1 per 1000 treated. I gather my radiation AEs are more frequent.

My “loss of appetite” experience is something I would rather like to call “Manchester syndrome” (where do I go if I wish to enter a new term into medical dictionaries?). This is definitely stress related and I recognise the signs from when I studied for my exams in Manchester in addition to being an appalling cook at the time. The appalling cook now was the one kitchen producing x number of meals for a whole university hospital and I really hate fish souflé à la SU. I love fish and can’t wait to pick up a pack of sushi or go home to my mother-in-law for newly fried whiting (Merlangius merlangus). And that’s all I have to say about that.

I hate and love hospitals at the same time. I have been reminded why I did not study medicine or nursing. However, these places really save lives, and if they can’t save you, they help ease your pain. I got to see this first hand, which is known as palliative care. You know what? I don’t have to be afraid of dying in disgrace, which has really helped me in all of this. I am so thankful for this week for now I can let go of all my thoughts concerning euthanasia (which is still illegal in Sweden), throwing myself off the balcony (my husband reminded me that I wasn’t high enough up) or snuffing myself in some other efficient and pain free way. I shared a room with two other women who were in a pretty poor state. I had to press my own big red panic button to alert the staff as well as put my ear plugs in while they were throwing up or having water removed from their lungs (which sounded pretty painful, even with ear-plugs). However, when one or the other was eventually feeling better and was not asleep, we could talk. I now remember why I love the movie “American Beauty”. There is so much beauty in the world and these two women are not excluded. They were still “young” – only 65 years old. The phrase “dying young” has come to have a completely new meaning for me. I remember watching a documentary about Elvis Presley after coming home from my brain surgery and the reporter sounded mournful when he said that “the King” died at age 42. My instinctive thought was, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE “ONLY” LIVED TO BE 42 ?????”

Elvis Presley was able to touch millions of people’s lives in his 42 years. I have just begun to realise that my insignificant life may actually touch some of you out there. The doctors can’t guarantee that the radiation will work its miracles, although, we remain hopeful. However, I can definitely enjoy my life as it is now. In addition, I was seen by a dietitian as my recent weight was seen as a problem. He told me something along the lines of, “Maria, if you are going to get well, you’re not doing yourself a favour by starving yourself”. Then he wrote me a prescription for nutrient drinks and gave me a list of foods so that I may feel inspired when I get back home. The list is in Swedish, but you may have a look at it if you click on the picture below.

The guy upstairs is pretty humorous if you ask me.

Maria’s special diet 

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3 Comments»

  Dana wrote @

Welcome back…I’ve missed you.

I came across some pictures from when I visited you a number of summers ago in Sweden…we were making some tiramisu. Want the recipe? It’ll add to your caloric intake. 🙂

  skablifrisk wrote @

Dana! I remember our tiramisu “incident”. Didn’t we forget to add something to the recipe? I think my mother still has the (correct) recipe, which she pulls out every now and again, so I am covered there. What I would be interested in, though, is your mother’s recipe for lasagna, or is that a well guarded Italian family secret?

  Dana Ozik wrote @

Yup, we forgot to buy marsala wine so we used port instead, I think. Strange thing is, I still do that sometimes, just for a change. It’s funny how new traditions are born!

Anyway, I’d be happy to send you the lasagna recipe. Look for it in your inbox sometime in the next couple of days!


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