Tuesday, May 23, 2006


"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."
-- the Mentat Piter de Vries

I spent the better part of Wednesday through Saturday trapped in the hospital nursing an acute case of gout. I guess I had it coming. I hadn't been taking good care of myself lately and with my mind focused on the "Otherness" of my vacation I wasn't paying attention to ME.

I had taken Sunday off as I had posted earlier but I couldn't shake off the hurting in my right foot. Meantime, I was apprehensive of self-medicating as both our Company medical policy and common sense were built-in restrictions. On Tuesday evening the throbbing was unbelievably painful I couldn't sleep. It wasn't a biggie on the Scale of Unbelievable Pain --- I haven't reached that state of physical pain for a long time --- but it was still painful, mein Gott!

Tuesday evening I loaded up on water --- lots of it --- to help relieve the pain. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate was my mantra. Problem was, every now and then I had to do number one and I had to drag my fat ass to the toilet on a bum foot. I had to sleep on the couch just to be able to manage the distance.

Finally I gave up. I lay back and thought of all the scenarios so that I could get to the hospital in one piece. My landlord (the leaseholder) and his family were all on vacation, leaving my other flatmate and I in charge of the apartment. I asked him eventually to bring me to the hospital at about 7 am. I was figuring that a little shot of painkillers from the ER would do me wonders and I could go merrily go on my way to work.

Secretly though, I knew that I couldn't have gone to work in my current state. Instead of the self-medication regimen, I decided to take advantage of our full-featured medical plan. Still, I've always hated the notion of going to hospitals even if the whole hospital experience was balanced out by seeing pretty nurses and/or doctors (the chances of the latter are slim here in KSA). The last time I was hospitalized was a life-changer: I could say that my life turned around beginning that last hospital stay in May 2001. Of course, backsliding, physical and emotional, happens once in a while, as evidenced by this latest bout of sickness.

Waiting time at the ER took almost five hours --- they got my blood work, x-rays of my right foot and my chest, even an ECG --- before the insurance company finally decided to admit me to the hospital, during which, to my dismay, all my plans of going to work and having a productive day were ripped apart.

It was noontime by the time I got to my room on the fifth floor of the hospital. The room was bright - it was facing the sea - but otherwise it was warm. Something must have been wrong with the ducting of the room or the a/c unit itself, since according to the nurses the temperature control was linked to that of the ICU. Since I didn't know I would be in the hospital for longer than usual, this didn't seem too bad to me in the beginning.

(Yeah, I know I regretted it...)

I'm familiar with the drill in hospitals - I've stayed long enough in hospitals as companion or as victim (ehem, patient) that I could go with the schedule and routine with my eyes closed (even if there are special conditions for each patient, the drill is still the same...). Blood tests as required. The butt injection. Intravenous nutrition (yummy!) as required. Getting yourself awakened by some nurse so that you can take your lousy medicine.

The things I hate most ---being immobilized by the IV and then having to take a dump or a piss, and clammy bedsheets! (Warm room + hospital bed + fever + medicine = sweat). And --- since I didn't wisely bring any clothes, I had to put up with the dressing gowns provided by the hospital. They gave me the large ones which were still a snug fit; I actually looked an Arab wearing those long hospital gowns. We-ell, give me an extra two or three inches of height I'd be a lot happier. Not because I won't look like an Arab.

About the only consolation I had was that the nurses were pretty and nice. I had one favorite in particular, but only insofar as I believe that she is still single. I'd keep that illusion going for the meantime. Plus, they have this notion that a private room means one is mudir or boss in the company. I'd like to believe I'm important to the Company, but not so much as being one of the bosses. Lots of extra money would do just fine, thank you.

The great thing also was that my friends really filled up the place while I was at hospital. However, it was only good for Wednesday evening since I expected to get out on Thursday (see my rant below). As of today, I'm still eating apples, oranges, and crackers that they provided. My boss said one time that being hospitalized becomes an exercise in self-pity. We-ell, yeah, but it never felt that way to me, since I was surrounded by people who cared.

Never get hospitalized close to the weekend over here, and if you do, guarantee an extended hospital stay. Now, I wouldn't want to knock the professionalism and the ability of my fine team of doctors (who spent a grand total of 20 minutes checking up on me during their various rounds), but this I know about the medical profession --- some doctors aren't just meant to be, but convention and family demands put them there. I really wish I would get some straight answers --- the group prognosis was an acute case of gout.

Say goodbye to those big portions of roast beef. Say goodbye (for the meantime) to caffeine and tea. Skip the sugar! Eat more fruit and vegetables! (on the side - say goodbye to drinking sessions, to treating yourself to pork, to oily fried meals, to stuffing yourself...)

Uh-huh, yak it up. As if I'm really listening. Shoot, I'm going to have a really lousy vacation.

But seriously, I don't want to be stricken again. Let me recite the mantra:

"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by fruits and vegetables that fat becomes lean, the body gains fiber, the fiber the signs of weight loss. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."

Until I backslide again and land in the hospital again, that is.

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