Another weekend down, an organ lost

(Yes, I know this is a bit late, I'm sorry — you've all nagged enough!  There are (some) reasons).

Right, so weekend #2: there wasn't going to be that much to report, partly because I didn't get up to as much and the weather wasn't as nice, and also because what I did do wasn't accompanied by a camera.  Friday I went to a Jim Byrnes concert which was excellent; he's a blues musician born in Missouri but living in Vancouver since the 70s (he has also been missing his legs below his knees since around the same time).  There are actually some photos from this, courtesy of a friend's iphone (hence the sub-par quality).  Minor tidbit: the venue was "Richards on Richards" (located on Richards St), and the locals apparently use a contraction of that name.  Surprisingly, it's not a gay bar.

Saturday I was a bit washed-out, a consequence of getting home late and not having curtains -- good morning, 5am.  As a result I didn't get up to much, but did go for a walk up to the beach and park 5 minutes north of my apartment, Jericho beach.  This was quite nice; much more laid-back than the meat-market of Kits beach that we were at on the first weekend.  There's some awesome views of the city at night to be had from there, so I'll try and get some pictures at some point.  Not this time though, sorry.  At night there was a street party, where they'd closed off a street for a charity race, so at the end they had food and beer, and people running on stilts, parties of women in bridal gear, parties of men in bridal gear, you get the idea.

...and here's where it gets a bit more interesting!  Sunday morning about 2am I woke up with abdominal pain, and it kept me awake for the rest of the night, leaving me further trashed for Sunday, so I didn't really get up to much.  It also didn't go away, which was vaguely disquieting and I was starting to think I should look for a doctor on campus if it was still there on Monday.  Sometimes it was very sharp and painful; at others it was just a large pressure feeling, as if a giant fart would clear it (if you'll pardon the image).  Unfortunately at this stage I looked up "appendix" on wikipedia, and having seen a list of symptoms could instantly find most of them on myself, and felt like a hypochondriac.  I was pretty certain that the pain was at least in the right place though.  Around 6pm I was talking to a friend (Sherman again -- I told you he's been helpful!) and mentioned it, and it turns out he's done a couple of years of paramedic training in addition to computer science.  He convinced me to go get it checked out, and drove me in to UBC hospital.  This unfortunately wasn't the best place to go, as they don't have a surgery; they took some blood tests and xrays, and told me that it could it fact be appendicitis and I should see a surgeon.  So, we had to go to the Vancouver General Hospital, where this time it took a bit longer to be seen.  They did a CT scan (which unfortunately involves drinking some contrasts then waiting for a couple of hours first, all the while thinking "I bet it is just wind"), which confirmed that it was appendicitis and would have to come out.  I was almost relieved about this, since I was starting to seriously feel like a hypochondriac, especially when the pain receded a bit!  Sherman finally went home at this point, about 2am; he'd actually stuck with me all this time, I'm incredibly grateful for his help.

At this point I actually got really lucky: they told me that when the surgery actually happened would depend on the waiting list and how urgent they were, etc (my appendix hadn't ruptured, so I wasn't that urgent).  Then they rang the surgery who were just standing around, so it happened straight away!  Everything went well, I passed through recovery, and got transfered to a private room.  Lucky break #2: it was on the 8th floor, and had a spectacular view of the mountains and river!  (According to the nurses, during fireworks season patients in those rooms frequently get unknown "visitors", due to the great vantage point).  So I spent most of Monday bored in a room, until they discharged me in the early evening.  Everything since has been smooth sailing; I have enough painkillers to knock out a horse, and I barely needed any — one at night for the first couple of nights to make sure I slept, basically.  Back at work the next day.

So that was my drama for the weekend; Canadian health-care is just as good as advertised, apparently.  Also, I'll try and carry a camera with me more often.

Mark Hepburn 01 July 2009
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