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Wouldn't it be great if these stories were true? Unfortunately (or fortunately) they're not; they are just the product of my overworked mind. All characters and events are fictitious and if you think you recognize yourself or somebody you know in these stories, it was not my purpose and it is purely unintentional. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. Feel free to link this blog wherever else you hang out on the Internet and to post comments below. I enjoy hearing from you.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Hospital Diaries I : A Gout-Ridden Wretch

Ouch! I was awoken by a shooting pain in the middle of the night.

For the fourth time in 30 years I was having a gout attack. By now I knew the story: the sharp pain in the joint at the base of my big toe would fade away after I applied ice packs and took muscle relaxants. This meant I would be lounging in bed for a few days while rereading the works of Guy de Maupassant.

After three days, the swelling had subsided but the pain in my foot remained and I was unable to walk without limping. It was not unbearable so I went back to work where a lengthy report on crystallizing the Canadian public health system through the infusion of additional government funds was waiting to be edited.

“Gout? What’s this? You think you’re Charles Dickens?” joked my friend Aaron when he saw me at the office.

I tried to explain that gout was not some outdated distemper and that its occurrence was on the rise in North America but my colleague was no longer listening: instead he was focusing on the coffee machine sputtering a reluctant espresso into his cup.
coffee, espresso, latte, vending machine, coffee beans, grinder, paper cup
The espresso machine is believed to have been invented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo, in Torino, Italy. The drink gained in popularity worldwide in the 1980’s so much that automatic dispensing machines such as this one are now common in North American public institutions.

Weeks went by, I was still hobbling and to make matters worse, one of my knees failed. I now had an even clumsier gait. I went to a doctor who told me upon quickly examining my swollen knee that it was sprained. He recommended two weeks of rest and to avoid putting weight on my leg.

So I took the last two weeks of annual leave I had left and went back to read Guy de Maupassant’s tales.

As this forced vacation was coming to an end and the time to return to work was approaching, my knee was still hurting. With the help of a walking cane, I went back to the clinic where the doctor summarily felt my puffy knee to immediately declare:

“This is a splendid case of a sprained knee with torn ligaments! You must get to bed my friend! Didn’t I tell you before to get some rest?”

“But I’ve been at home for the last two weeks!”

“In bed? No, no, my friend, stay in bed with your leg raised and apply ice packs four times a day. I am prescribing you some muscle relaxants to ease the pain.”

With the prescription in my hand, I called a cab to take me to the drugstore while realizing to my displeasure that, having used up all my annual vacations, I had to take unpaid leave to attend to my health.

The cab driver was talkative and seeing my cane asked me what happened to me.

“Oh, it’s nothing, I just twisted my knee” I said.

“You should stop smoking!” he replied.

Not impressed by the man’s popular wisdom I was stunned by the effectiveness of the advertising campaign put together by the Government, the health system and the pharmaceutical industry to blame all worldly problems on smoking.

So I went back to bed, determined to heal my costly lame knee. I would get up once a day to use the bathroom and prepare some food. My meals were simple: sandwiches, fresh fruits and vegetables, cereal, cheese, social tea biscuits and water.­­­ I ate lying down. With a razor blade, I cut up a two-litre soda bottle to use as a bedpan to avoid standing up.
polyethylene terephtalate, PET, Dacron, Mylar, soft drink, soda, pop, refundable, recycling, ketchup, mustard
The polyethylene terephthalate bottle was invented in 1973 by Nathaniel Wyeth, an American engineer, for pressurized liquids such as soda pop. Carbonation is weak in human urine. However it is surprising how many people use such bottles to relieve themselves when nature calls.

After a week this idleness was taking its toll. My back was aching so much that it was becoming a challenge to sit up in bed or to get up.

I could pull myself out of bed with a strap I tied to my bedroom door while I pushed myself up with my elbow resting on a stool. Every day walking from my bedroom to the bathroom and the kitchen became more difficult.

One morning I woke up laying on my back with my arms extended, completely paralysed.

I was sure this was the first time in the history of modern medical science that a gout attack turned into a sprained knee spreading to the upper body and limbs of an individual.

This is when I realized I needed some serious help.

To be continued in Hospital Diaries II : The Firefly.

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