Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...I ended up in the hospital!

I know it has been over two weeks since I last wrote in this space, and believe me, it was not by choice. My plan was to cover all the Shaw and Stratford plays I have had the pleasure of attending this summer before the Labour Day weekend. However, fate, as is often the case, rears his ugly head when you least expect it. So I will endeavour to get you caught up on the news of the month outside of the realm of music and the arts, by way of explanation for my absence. On the weekend, I will return to the regular schedule with more of the summer reviews from the Stratford Festival.

So there I was, back on August 12th, working at my day job at CKTB Radio, just back after a couple of weeks' vacation, and before I finished the morning run about 9 am, I started to feel decidedly unwell. There was considerable pain in my stomach and abdomen, and eventually it grew so great I managed to drive myself home and lie down for awhile. With no relief in sight, I called Telehealth Ontario and described the symptoms and was promptly advised to get to the nearest emergency as quickly as possible. This I did, but of course, still had to wait over three hours before being admitted. It seemed like an eternity, but I made it, and after describing the symptoms and the pain, it was at first thought I had appendix problems. Following an inconclusive result from the Ultrasound, an electrocardiogram was performed and then a catscan, before the problem was diagnosed. These procedures all came quickly, I might add, so once I was in emergency, things were handled with great speed and care.

Before I knew what was happening, Dr. Cranford, a senior surgeon at the St. Catharines General site appeared and told me the diagnosis: an incarcerated hernia, and I would be on the operating table less than an hour later, at exactly twelve midnight. If nothing else, his humour and easy going nature put me at ease and reduced the tension that had been building all evening long. I had had a hernia operation back in 1996 in the same area, so this would be a tricky operation, but he assurred me things would be fine. They were, of course, but the next day I was pretty tired, dopey and not in the mood to do much of anything. But the prognosis for recovery was good, and I should be going home in a few days. Or so we thought.

I was no sooner discharged a week ago Tuesday when I discovered, following dinner that evening, the rather large incision I was sporting from the operation was leaking badly. By Wednesday, it was apparent I had a pretty nasty infection, and so back to emergency I went once again, with a rather painful evening in store as they squeezed out as much of the infection as they could before sending me home with lots of antibiotics to keep me company for the next ten days. I returned home to my office last Friday, after a couple of days' convalescence with my dear friends Peter and Teresa Kellett, who looked after me extremely well during the transition from hospital to home.

So now, I am slowly getting back into some semblance of a routine, trying to keep on top of work that simply needs to be done before it gets out of hand, all the while keeping myself rested and medicated as much as possible. All of which explains why the blog entries and even my monthly newsletter have been on hiatus the past couple of weeks. I hope to get the August edition of the newsletter, Fine Music News, published tomorrow, and the website ( updated on the weekend. If you still don't subscribe to the newsletter, send your email address to, and I will add you to the mailing list.

Just a few thoughts before I rest for the remainder of the evening, in light of the events of the last couple of weeks. Even though the wait to be admitted to emergency seemed to take forever, I did find everyone from beginning to end to be very caring and attentive, and I have nothing but praise for everyone in the Niagara Health System who helped me through this the last couple of weeks. It is not an easy job, to be sure, but I cannot say enough for the care I received. That being said, it would be greatly appreciated if somebody - anybody - could please design a decent hospital gown that preserves what little dignity you have left once you're in there. Sheesh! Other than than, no complaints...even the food was fine, as far as I was concerned. Mind you, the fact I went over two days without even water meant I was ready for almost anything once I was reintroduced to food, but again, it was not all that bad.

Oh, and one other thing. Be thankful for small mercies: if you get a quiet room-mate while in hospital, thank your lucky stars. My room-mate for most of the stay hated the food, complained constantly about the apparent lack of air conditioning (it was fine) and most evenings hosted several family members around his bedside, often eating whatever they had brought in from outside. There were times I would like to have simply left the room. It could have been worse, I know, but really, sometimes I wonder about people. All you can do is make the best of a difficult situation, and that is what I did during my stay.

So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Not as much fun as attending summer concerts and theatre, but at least I am recovering well and really none the worse for wear. So thanks for your patience, and we'll return to more reviews from Shaw and Stratford in the coming days.

August 26th, 2009.

No comments: