We had a little bit of a Christmas Horribilis. I don’t like to say it, I hate giving into negativity, I know our problems are relative. But sometimes you have to throw the towel at it, sit back and have a good moan (and some tears. I’ll be honest, there were tears).
If you’re squeamish, too late. I have a kidney stone and it’s trying to murder me, slowly, from the inside out. It was the cause of my attending a hospital clinic appointment with one day’s notice on December 20th, being admitted for two nights and being quite sick with the whole thing over Christmas.
Being in hospital isn’t pleasant. However… (and very fortunately), when admitted, I was in the whole of my health, so having gotten over the logistics of the entire thing, it turned into something akin to a day out… just in hospital. The nanas stepped up, as always – one minding the clan in Clare (along with my utterly capable husband), one minding me in Cork. I challenge anybody virtually (and very happily) tied to two tiny children every day to not enjoy a little break, regardless of the circumstances. Hospital food? Beats scavenged, leftover cheese-on-toast and yogurt for lunch. Noisy ward? At least nobody’s asking me to get out of bed, sprint to their bedside and sooth them back to sleep while freezing in my usually ill-planned nightwear. Taking bloods? Better than an out-of-the-blue elbow in the head any day.
There was also a ‘window’ whereby I had been admitted, but hadn’t yet received any treatment, so I had the opportunity to do some very welcome Christmas shopping in Wilton Shopping Centre and drink quiet coffees to my heart’s content in the very pleasant hospital cafés. Just as long as I kept my hospital bracelet under-wraps (a dead giveaway) I was just another normal person, doing normal person things… sans children.
It catches up on you though – Christmas in hospital is not for the faint hearted. And I was lucky enough to be suffering with something correctable! The mood was jovial – I think we’re just like that as a nation. You bond. Everyone’s in it together. Down in the MRI queue there was lots of banter flying; ‘They’re fierce slow today – you’d think we had all day’. Hardy Har. But there was also a very sad looking man in a wheelchair – long, scraggly hair; unshaven; red, weather-beaten skin – wearing a shirt that just couldn’t have been his. No shoes, no socks. On the ward (which incidentally are mixed-gender now, very odd), we said goodbye to a comrade who told us he was off home for Christmas and glad to see the back of the hospital. He had fallen at his home in Bandon. He lives alone. He said he planned to go to town for his dinner and call into the neighbours afterwards. They’re very good to him. We knew from loud discussions between him and the medical staff that he was going to a nursing home. For now. I don’t think he understood it himself. He was very confused.
Everyone was extremely nice. Did you know that all doctors are aged 28 now? And it’s all first-name basis. They care about you and they know their stuff. I met one nurse who had worked in Accident & Emergency for eleven and a half years. She loved it then, she missed it now. She hadn’t really wanted to leave but she had become exhausted by it – not just the work itself, but the pressure of it all. She said that the people had been the best part of it – a reason for hope alone. When I was being put to sleep a very young trainee nurse almost absent-mindedly said ‘we’ll look after you’. I was very glad she said it, because I was afraid. In that routine moment, I needed the reassurance and the kindness.
When I was facing into a second, unexpected night, my mother told me to treat it as an opportunity to rest up and gather lots of energy for Christmas, which I did. I was looking at the babies’ photos, glumly pumping milk for my youngest in an attempt to keep up my fast-diminishing milk supply and really feeling the time spent apart.
I was glad to get home the next day.
And so the stone did me no favours over Christmas, enforcing a Scrooge-like grip over us for the holiday period. Throw in a flu for the husband and sprinkle with some teething and general crankiness on the children’s part, and it became one of those Christmases everyone has at least once in their lifetime – a not-very-Christmassy Christmas.
But like the kidney stone, we’ll get over it. Christmas, really, is about counting your lucky stars and cherishing what you have. It’s a little light at the darkest of times to get us through the last of the Winter and soundly on to Spring. Sometimes all you can do is be glad you’re one of the lucky ones that gets to look forward, in true earnest, to a brand new year.
The kidney stone hasn’t been sorted by the way. That torture will be endured into March. I’ll keep you posted!
Happy New Year everyone X