Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The House Is In Saturn!!

The last month and a half have been a little underwhelming health wise in our house. If you would kindly remember, at the beginning of February, right after we returned from Patagonia, the Diplomat took off for India to see the In Laws and attend a resplendent cousin wedding leaving Son and me behind to fend for ourselves in the Marvelous City. He left on a warm Monday evening and on an even warmer Tuesday, I was informed that I needed to go into an emergency surgery, which would keep me in the hospital for 2 nights. It could not be delayed for even an hour. Highly distressed, I began to frantically try to call the Diplomat who was living up at Heathrow airport to give him the news. Wi-fi at Heathrow turned out to be highly underwhelming. After an hour or so of unsuccessfully trying to connect with him via Whatsapp, I was already picturing myself dying sadly on the operating table under general anesthesia without saying a few last poignant words to him, voicing my eternal love and barking important instructions for Son’s future upbringing. Finally, the call went through and I managed to relay the distressing news. When he offered to turn around and catch the next plane back to Rio, I valiantly refused and wished him a good trip. I don’t know what possessed me, I am never that gracious. After that, I tearfully asked my housekeeper to stay the night with Son, refused my close friend C’s offer to come with me to the hospital and off I went under the knife. I felt so sad for myself, I cried a bit on the operating table before the drugs hit, which visibly freaked out the (very handsome) anesthesiologist.

I emerged two hours later, disoriented as hell and freezing, with an army of nurses and doctors all over me. (A quick sidebar to give props to the most amazing Samaritano hospital in Rio, which easily rivals any fancy American one.)  As it was a stomach-related surgery, I could not really get up and could not even move much in the bed. That made for a very long and sleepless night. My only solace was the rather unexpected bonus given to me by my doctor - a DVD with the surgery (?!) - which I actually watched and found absolutely fascinating. Yup, my insides are riveting! Oddly, so far only Son has agreed to watch the DVD and I can tell you, he found it amazing.

The next morning, I finally got a call from the Diplomat who had just landed in Chennai and was in the car with his parents. After establishing quickly that I was still alive and very, very hungry, he proceeded to tell me that on the flight from London to Mumbai he had managed to faint 3 times for no apparent reason. Thus, upon his arrival, he was met by the airport medical team who whisked him away to the med unit and gave him a bunch of IV, in the process of which he almost missed the Chennai connection. He was apparently still feeling horrible but I do give him props for commiserating with me.

After one more night in the hospital, I finally went home to my poor child. Still walking with great difficulty, in the next few days I was wonderfully cared for by my housekeeper and an army of fabulous friends who visited me, cooked for me, cared for my child and generally made sure I did not lose my mind in the absence of the Diplomat. A couple of days later, I also developed a fantastic and incredibly itchy rash, most likely as a result of the painkiller I was taking. That is also when Son decided to get a severe strep infection and have a fever of 103F in a matter of an hour, on a Saturday night. Did I mention it was also Carnaval and so my housekeeper was off for 5 days?? Thus, off painkillers and still moving gingerly about the house, I began taking care of the poor sick child while intermittently talking on the phone with the still visibly ill Diplomat in India. After a day of iboprufen and acetaminophen, the fever would not budge below 101 and so I had to take Son to the emergency room on a blazing hot Sunday, through the drunken throngs of festive Carnaval youth. A little later, armed with a prescription for antibiotics, we made it back home, Son feeling worse and worse and perilously hot. I spent another sleepless night, feeding him drugs and trying alternative grandma remedies like vinegar-soaked towel on his forehead (which made the bedroom smell like salad) and rubbing him with cachaca (which made the bedroom small like a cheap bar). In the meantime, the Diplomat kept telling me stories of feeling weak and ill all the time and sleeping constantly.

Around that time I also noticed that Fat Cat was sporting an oozing right eye, which strongly suggested he had conjunctivitis. If you have been reading this blog for some time, you would be aware that Fat Cat is not the type of cat that will allow a loving owner to carefully examine the eye from up close and try to clean it. Rather, in response to your loving care, he will scratch your own eyeballs and hide in the guest bathroom hissing at you for the next two hours. So, I decided that I cannot deal with him at that point in time.

Some time that week, the Diplomat had mentioned to me that his mother had called an astrologer to the house (for the life of me, I do not remember why). Among other highly insightful things, the sage professional had mentioned that our (that is mine and the Diplomat’s) house is “in Saturn,” which apparently meant that we would all get very sick. Which, in all honesty, we already were, so I was impressed by her immense skills. (Ominously, she did not mention when exactly we would be exiting said Saturn.) And sure enough, the next day I saw that the fish, which a friend had given recently to Son and whom he had promptly forgotten and thus (shockingly) I had to care for, began behaving rather odd, twirling all around its little aquarium. In between giving antibiotics to Son, scratching my terrible rash, changing my surgery dressings, listening to the Diplomat’s meek reports of ill health from India, trying to catch the hissing cat to least clean his eye, I began also researching what would cause a beta fish to twirl. After hours on the internet, I concluded that he had a blocked gland and was simply unable to poop. I set out on a treatment course of 3 days of fasting, followed by me defrosting a pea, splitting in quarters and trying to feed him with it. He was having none of it; instead, he began swimming in tight circles, chasing his tail like a frenetic poodle and my housekeeper eventually figured out that, to my horror, he was actually eating his tail.

Luckily by then Son had already recovered and went back to school. I was able to walk more freely and even took a couple of walks out of the house. A week later, the Diplomat returned and mournfully informed me that he had zero energy to do just about anything, including playing tennis and golf. Now, that was serious. A trip to the doctor showed that he had an unusually low blood sugar and a barrage of tests later, he was pronounced pre-diabetic. He was told to stay away from white rice and beer and to generally eat healthier. None of that made for an improved mood but after following that advice for the next several days, he began to feel better and I am happy to say that the local golf course has recovered from its temporary financial crisis in his absence. After enduring the sight of the ever disappearing fish tail, I finally got up one morning and sent the fish in the better swimming fields of the Rio de Janeiro sewer system.

We also finally pinned down Fat Cat and took him to the vet, where he was given eye drops and a crème but zero instructions on how those were to land in the hissing animal’s eye. After we took him home, the Diplomat armed himself with silicone cooking gloves and a towel and proceeded to chase Fat Cat around the house. The idea was for him to grab the wriggling meowing devil while I open his eye and shove medicine in it. Yeah, right. By the sounds he was making you’d think we were trying to cut off his legs. We finally managed to corner him in our bedroom and pounced on him with all our might. After a five-minute breathless fight with the satanic cat, I think I managed to pour some eye drops up his nose. Good enough. Sufficiently scared the next evening, we decided to give it a rest for a day. After a little prayer, we resumed the torture the following days and I am happy to report that now we manhandle him expertly with very little pushback and protests and his eye is back to normal. You’d think that we were finally out of Saturn except that for the past one month I have been sporting a fierce sinus infection, which despite antibiotics and an army of nose sprays is still raging on unabated, making me sound like an asthmatic wolf most of the time. Come on, Saturn!