This past week has been a full on reality check, wake up call, terrifying, enlightening and humbling experience. The Universe threw the planning rule book out of the window and took the decisions we were trying to make, right out of our hands.
In short… the Universe ramped it up and saved us from ourselves.
This was the week that we were supposed to be arriving in the Spanish Alpujarra, and moving into our new rental home on the outskirts of Orgiva. That was what we had planned, organised and paid deposits for. Except here we are, still in Edinburgh, getting our heads round the fact that our flat hadn’t sold and our plan appeared to be in tatters.
With no enquiries, no visits and no ‘nothing’, My Gorgeous Man and I were finally letting go of our insistence to sell The Flat and had begun investigating various options of short and long term letting. That of course, meant we were also letting go of being able to buy a home in Spain. And that hurt.
It’s not easy to let go of the dream you’ve set in concrete… and as the greatest, strategic planner in the world, MGM was having an internal struggle with this plan, not panning out.
But what happened next, paled those stresses into insignificance and shed some light on the Universe’s way of working things out for us.
This week we’ve been reminded of our mortality. We’ve been shown that anything can change at any given moment… and that a healthy life should not be taken for granted… and life should be lived to the full.
On Sunday 1st October at about 1.30am, My Gorgeous Man woke me up. I wasn’t best pleased as I’d chugged back a considerable amount of wine during Strictly Come Dancing that evening, and I was already in full hangover mode… and in all honesty, still a bit pished.
But he was in agony with abdominal pain. And it was familiar abdominal pain. The gallstones were on the move again. And it was getting worse. Not being a man to complain, he paced the room and debated about calling an ambulance… he couldn’t catch his breath through the pain…we opened windows… tried different positions leaning against furniture… more pacing… but the pain became worse and worse and worse. And I got more frightened. Sir Maxelot (our beloved greyhound) also became increasingly anxious at the unusual night time activity and his Dad’s weird behaviour. But the pain became so intense that 999 was eventually dialled. It took longer than we hoped for the ambulance to arrive… and we strangely noticed how loud and creaky all the flooring was. Every single step throughout our home, elicited a creak. How had we not noticed that before?
It was a tired, lone paramedic that arrived.
I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember her name… but she was calm, down to earth and in our eyes… an angel. She wired MGM up, stuck sticky round stickers on him, took stats, machines beeped, papers printed out, lungs checked, temperature taken and yup… without a doubt, he needed morphine. The scale of 1-10 had now reached an 8/ 9.
But she’d forgotten her key card which was essential to gain access to the precious, locked up morphine. She said she was definitely going to get in trouble… but more than that, I could see that she felt terrible that she was unable to help MGM. I really felt for her.
So she called for another ambulance. Except, being a Saturday night all sorts of drunken hell was breaking out on the streets of Edinburgh and there was no availability. While it was reassuring to have her with us, it was also extremely distressing to be so helpless while MGM was struggling with the pain. Pacing, pacing, pacing… leaning… groaning… getting greyer and greyer… colder and clammier.
We waited over 90 minutes… and it felt like 90 years.
Turned out MGM’s morphine bearing ambulance had been diverted to a cardiac arrest… so our paramedic angel upgraded her request to the highest priority so no more ambulances would be diverted away. She was adamant. At one point, she almost drove us there herself but it was that awkward 50/50 call of the length of drive versus the ambulance arriving.
Finally we saw the blue lights and we made our way down in the lift to the awaiting carriage. It was being driven by a 12 year old who looked as if he hadn’t slept for 10 of his 12 years. His name was Steve and through his exhaustion, he handed over the vial of morphine to our paramedic and reassuringly said “You’ll be alright now mate” and patted MGM on the shoulder. MGM was oblivious. Violently shaking with cold and shock in the back of the ambulance he lay on the stretcher and gently started to drift away as the morphine began to seep through his veins. Relief at last.
We were off… and while we were en-route our paramedic revealed her naughty streak. Turns out that young Steve has a ‘thing’ about people knocking on the dividing glass while he’s driving. It freaks him out. So both of us were resisting doing exactly that while trying not to giggle at the thought of doing it. Sleep deprivation does weird things to you. I remember it all too well from my days flying the long haul skies during the nights we felt would never, ever end.
As we approached the hospital I started to build myself up and take long deep breaths for courageous calm. As an empath, hospitals are not my favourite place. I feel way too much and if I don’t keep on top of it, I get nauseous, fuzzy and dizzy from the emotional and energetic trauma and pain around me.
I began filling myself up with…
to strengthen my aura and blast it out into our surroundings to dissipate the energetic and emotional Yuk. I was not going to succumb to the Yuk. No Siree, I was going to hold empowered space… not be overwhelmed. Luckily MGM was tripping out on the morphine and totally unaware of my own little challenge.
Our paramedic angels left us in the care of the A&E staff, sighing sighs of relief at not having had to face the ‘scary handover nurse.’ They were nearing the end of their shift so they deserved this little respite.
It was a couple of hours after admission, having been parked in the corridor and then upgraded to a cubicle… several rounds of blood pressure cuffs, blood tests, abdominal poking and prodding done… that I started to take an interest in people watching. I couldn’t help but be transfixed by the young girl opposite, looking very much worse for wear but who was taking ‘funny face’ selfies of herself and her boyfriend who was puking his guts up into a hospital cardboard pot. Most cubicles had their curtains open and they were filled with a mix of old souls suffering… and incoherent drunks. I shined my light as bright as I could so I didn’t have to feel any of it. Best not to look too much, after all.
Finally, a doctor confirmed that it was gallstones.
And then the on call surgical doctor appeared.
He swished back the curtain and stood in front of us like a God. Young, tall, fit, good looking and blonde… with confidence and charisma oozing out of him. He knew his stuff alright and his manner made us feel secure, seen and safe. We both felt like naughty children in his presence. I so wished I hadn’t just pulled on my mucky dog walking clothes and left last night’s mascara vaguely smudged around my eyes. My eyes actually felt like piss holes in the snow and it was obvious I’d been on the lash. All 3 glasses of Pinot Grigio. It might as well have been 3 bottles by the way I was feeling. My vanity took a big bashing in that moment.
“I’ll sort it all out for you” the Hot Doc said. His well educated voice boomed out, “You’ll get a scan at the emergency clinic today and an appointment with the consultant and you’ll probably be put on the list for surgery. There’s about a 2-3 month waiting list.”
“Ok,” we meekly nodded, all swept up in his all-powerful Doctor presence. “And seeing as your pain is easing, you can go home now if you wish, rather than wait in this environment till your appointment.” He shook our hands and off he swept.
And off home we went too. By taxi… with my illegal limits of el cheapo vino blanco still slopping its way through my system. God I felt awful. It was still pitch dark and we sat together in a silent ‘WTF just happened’ stupor in the back of the black cab with the heater on full blast. It was frikking freezing.
It was about 5am when we opened our front door… only to find a distraught Sir Maxelot had torn his duvet bed to shreds. That’s his thing when he’s upset. I tidied it up and brought him into the bedroom with us for some much needed shuteye. I eventually got a smidgen of sleep before his morning pee-stop was due. God, I really wanted a door opening out onto a garden. Not 2 lots of security doors and a lift down 4 floors and a walk to the nearest patch of grass.
Spain… oh, Spain where are you?! Our awaiting rental has a garden…. and a pool… and lots of trees for Sir Maxelot to investigate.
The rest of Sunday was a bit of a sleep deprived and hungover blur. I had to go and check out our Airbnb guests and clean the flat (this is the flat that’s not selling)… and remain there for the open sales viewing in the afternoon… which nobody turned up to. Sigh.
MGM had got the call and gone to his scan (which showed a giant 8mm stone) and came back saying they’d offered him surgery there and then. It was all a bit of a shock and his sleep deprived mind couldn’t think straight. He had been set on doing another couple of gall bladder flushes that naturally help release gallstones, and despite what had just happened, it could be months before another episode. So, as he hadn’t gleefully jumped onto the operating table right then, the consultant gave him a phone number in case of further emergency. And that was that.
Or so we thought. The excruciating pain came back with a vengeance. God dammit… in the middle of night again. With less than two hours sleep under my belt… and none for MGM because he’d been trying to ignore the rumblings of pain, we were on the phone to NHS 24. Too embarrassed to call an ambulance… we found ourselves caught up in NHS 24 protocols, prompts and procedures… so it was all the same questions, trying to get us to either say we didn’t need an ambulance or yes, we did because we weren’t breathing or were mid heart attack or stroke. I get it though… I really do.
In the end, we were given an emergency appointment with an out of hours GP at 1.30am… back at the hospital we’d spent the previous night in. Again gallstones was confirmed, but, “surgery is preferable between flare ups.” He kindly jabbed some pain relief into MGM’s shoulder and ass… but it didn’t even touch the pain. The decision was made to admit MGM for surgical observation and he was unceremoniously wheel-chaired round to the ward wrapped up in blankets and looking like shit.
The thing with gallstone pain is that it comes and goes. Apparently it’s worse than childbirth… and when it eases, you forget how frikking horrendous it was.
That’s exactly what happened. And a couple of hours later, we went home. AGAIN.
After a quick stint in bed, just long enough to see the dawn arrive… MGM is doubled over with the pain again. It’s now off the richter scale and I’m seriously scared… and MGM is panicking. The surgical emergency number only opened at 9am but we started ringing it non-stop anyway… just in case. I have to leave My Gorgeous Man and take Sir Maxelot out for a pitstop, knowing he was about to be left alone again. There was no point in calling an ambulance because we figured it would be quicker to just drive up there. So we called NHS 24 who took us round in more protocol circles and MGM lost it and shouted “Will someone just make a decision for me!”
Because we hadn’t declared MGM as an emergency and it was now past 8am, we were told to phone our GP because we’re now ‘in hours’. The GP phoned straight back, bypassed the bullshit and said “Just get your ass up to the hospital as quick as you can.” Well, she didn’t say actually say ass… but her urgency inferred it.
With all the runs to the hospital having been in the night, it had given us a false sense of security about it not taking very long to get across the city. But it was now rush hour on Monday morning. With a 20mph speed limit that other drivers were suddenly religiously obeying. Bumpy roads. Road works. Buses. Cars. Buses. Pedestrians. And every frikking moron you could possibly imagine getting in our way and slowing us down.
“We’ll be there soon,” I kept saying, “NO WE WON’T” was barked back at me.
“You’re ok,” I kept saying because I couldn’t think of anything else to say… “I’M NOT OK” was grimaced through gritted teeth back at me.
MGM was past it… and I withdrew further into ultra calm silence. It was the best way for both of us to cope… and for me not to turn to road rage in order to get us to A&E quicker.
I wanted to speed into the A&E drop off area… screech to a halt… throw open doors and scream “SOMEBODY HELP US!!!” But I didn’t. Scottish A&E is about as far removed from the glamorous ER and Grey’s Anatomy as it could possibly be. I just pulled up on the double yellows, said a silent F*ck it… and helped MGM into reception. Papers were thrust into his hands and round the corner we went to the surgical observation ward.
When I returned from parking the car legally… I witnessed my hero of a warrior man become a whimpering animal through his pain. Leaning on the bed… crouching… pacing… shaking…making the most heart wrenching keening sounds… and yet still holding his dignity and respect for the staff. The staff were amazing… but they were avoiding pumping him with morphine until the surgical consult could see him. I especially remember the male student nurse… he deserved the teacher’s gold star for sure.
There was nothing I could do. No words. Reassuring back rubs didn’t cut it. So I just sat and held space. And prayed.
Then wouldn’t you know it… the privacy curtain goes SWIIIIIIISSHHH…. and there stands the Hot Doc in full green surgical kit. Arms crossed, one blonde eyebrow raised… and enjoying every metre of his moral high ground.
“Well… look what we have here! I saw your name and had to come and see you!”
“You turned down the surgery didn’t you… regretting that now eh?!” All said with a twinkling, dagger in his eye. He was making his point… and enjoying it. But through it all, we could tell he cared. He was a gem and he loved his work.
He stayed for a while, chatting about the surgery, saying how MGM was not a typical gall bladder patient but that due to his good health and not being overweight, it should be a breeze for him.
“It never happens you know… getting offered surgery on the same day!”
“If you were my father, I’d be telling you to have the surgery as soon as you can.”
“WHAT?? HIS FATHER??”
I totally bypassed the whole surgery conversation. FFS! Hot Doc thought my heroic MGM was old enough to be his father! Jeez! That made me old enough to be his mother! Holy Crap… that makes me a cougar for having gone all girly over him. I just prayed that MGM hadn’t clocked ‘the father’ comment. That would be just too cruel.
“I’ll sort all this out for you and the surgeon will be with you soon.”
Hot Doc left us, cheerfully saying over his shoulder “And I don’t want to see you back here again!” SWIIIIIISSHHHHHIIIING the curtain closed, he disappeared off into the depths of his A&E realm.
MGM and I just looked at each other. I didn’t want to verbalise what I’d heard. I mean… did Hot Doc really just say that? Then through MGM’s semi-conscious haze he suddenly re-appeared and very clearly said, “Did that B*astard just say what I think he said??”
Oh dear. He had clocked the father comment afterall. The reality began to sink in. Yes…we are in our 50’s… we are old enough to be his parents.
Even if we don’t feel our age, we must now look it.
The irony was not lost on us and the whole situation took on the scene of a darkly humorous play. And so we laughed… shook our heads… and laughed some more. I mean, what else can you do? At least it distracted MGM from the pain.
And at least I had normal clothes on and fresh mascara… so it really wasn’t the end of the world. It honestly didn’t matter. Much.
The next few hours became a bit of a blur. Intravenous morphine was finally administered and witnessed by 3 nurses. One of them was a great big, bearded bloke with a sparkle in his eye that belied the authority he held over the others. The morphine was injected slowly to monitor MGM’s reaction… and it was described as an ‘Irish dose’ by the surgeon who became our saviour.
MGM was pretty much unaware of what was happening after that. He got transported up to the ward, put into the glamorous backless gown and had plastic bags put over his feet in order to get the surgical stockings on. Damn they were a tight fit. More bloods. More cuffs. More access points. More whirring activity around us. The anaesthetist came up for a chat. She was charming and reassuring and… looked very young. Yup, I was probably old enough to be her mother too. But this was it. MGM was being taken for emergency surgery. That little f*cker was coming out. They said it would be keyhole. They said it was one of the most common surgeries they perform. They said not to worry. More on that next time.
And so the time had come for me to leave him. Nothing more that I could do. It absolutely broke my heart to leave him. All sorts of ‘worst case’ scenarios raced through my mind. Would I see him again? What if the surgery went wrong… what if, what if, what if. I really had to pull myself back from that edge and get a grip. No good comes from that. We didn’t say ‘goodbye’ we just focused on the fact that Sir Maxelot had been on his own for far too long already. No doubt the alarm on his furry little watch would be going mental and his spindly ex-racer legs would be well and truly crossed by now.
I got home in a daze. And it was no surprise to see Max’s duvet torn up again all over the living room floor. That dog and MGM have a bond that transcends species. So I set about making Max feel better, took him out for a quick walk… and finally collapsed on the sofa.
All I could think of was… “Thank God this didn’t happen in Spain.”
Thank you Universe, for delaying the sale of the flat and keeping us here.
You really do know best.
PS. The next, much, much shorter, instalment will bring MGM’s gallbladder escapades to its conclusion… and see the start of my preparations to fly down to Spain to run my November retreats!
If you’ve read this far, then you deserve this meditation as a gift… it’s me taking you through a visualisation to feel the power of your own aura and white light.
It’s to help you feel awesomely fabulous!!