Bad Medicine

I haven’t posted for ages and ages. At first it was laziness, which gradually developed into complete writer’s block, until it was pointed out to me that there is plenty going on to write about. I also have a weird hang up about not writing unless I have photos to accompany the post. Because my photography skillz are so out of this world. Ha!

Anyway, there are many thoughts and ideas swirling around my head lately and the beauty of my work is that there are frequent hour long gaps where I can be one of those people who sits in a bar, tapping on a keyboard and looking creative and efficient.

My current state of mind and body is dependent on the developments of one week over a month ago. On Friday 26 June, two days before my 31st birthday, the Canadian authorities pulled out all the stops and granted approval for my working holiday visa. Sometime before the end of June 2016 I shall be whisked off to that fair country for two years.


But clouds were on the horizon. No sooner had the birthday and visa celebrations ended, than I was struck down in the prime of life. It started on a Thursday morning as a vague ache in my side, developed into fever, nausea and the inability to breathe deeply, until I woke up crying with pain on Friday morning. It was 6.30am, I don’t have a doctor in Brussels and between sobs, I self-diagnosed appendicitis. My options were to go to the hospital or to stay in bed, expire and lie there for a month before someone said “Say, that curly-haired girl hasn’t been around lately, what’s her name…Cynthia?”

Still whimpering pathetically, I showered and got dressed for work, in case it turned out to be gas, and hobbled across Place Jourdan to the hospital. I even put on perfume, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the nurses in Urgences. You are welcome, Yves Saint Laurent. Also note the leopard print trousers in the photo below. That’s me trying to be normal.


Needless to say, the results of the scan that followed this photo did not diagnose gas but a case of pyelonephritis, a severe kidney infection. The emergency room doctor announced this to me with a big smile and heavily-accented French, so I almost thought it was good news, until he said they would be keeping me in for a few days. The infection manifested itself with intense pain, abscesses on my right kidney, bloody urine, a fever (on what was already the hottest day of the year) and incredible weakness. My roommate, an old lady with diabetes and a lung problem that required her to be on oxygen for most of the day, had more energy than me.

This lack of energy leads me to some insights I have gleaned from the entire experience. The main one is that kidneys and other organs are pretty important and if you are suffering from any strange discomfort, it might save a lot of time and pain if you got them seen to immediately. Listen to your body.

Never underestimate the joy of a long-awaited shower. It will make you feel like a new woman.

Friends are fantastic. Some people will drop everything to come to sit by your bedside and point out that you have left a sweat imprint on the sheets. Others will drop in unexpectedly, be it first thing in the morning before visiting hours, because they were at the physio and are “technically patients”, or last thing at night, when security kicks in and you have to wander downstairs in your not-too-flattering open-backed gown. Others will bring copious amounts of iced coffee, dried fruit and Harry Potter books.

Harry Potter books are excellent hospital reading material.

The Belgian health system is everything everyone says it is. I was the only one in the emergency room and they were all business about me. Big love to them all, even the one nurse who asked why I was crying. You try staying calm when your kidney is attempting to turn itself inside out.

Don’t be afraid to push that call button. The night ward nurses want to feel needed and you neeeeeeeed those painkillers.

Parents are great. Your mother will insist on coming over for two days and then stay for five. Your father will take photos.


Your energy levels will come back. Eventually you will want to go for a run. Don’t push it.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Are you holding your robe so as to avoid flashing your bum? Smooth.


    1. Yes. This was a sign that I was getting better. Until then I had stopped caring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s