Have you ever had one of those times? The ones where no matter how well planned something is, everything goes wrong. Where you have no alternative than to watch your best laid plans all go up in the air and you can do nothing but wait for them to land to see how much damage has been done and what, if anything, can be salvaged?
Four weeks ago I decided we needed a holiday. Mr D had been working ridiculous hours and Master J was exhausted after a long school term. We had become disconnected as a family, I had decided, and a holiday in the sun would help us to reconnect. I hopped online, found a beautiful two bedroomed apartment and booked the flights. Gold Coast here we come.
A week before we were due to leave Mr D woke up feeling awful. Not one to make a big deal of illness, this virus gripped him quickly. His temperature was raging and he struggled to breathe as it attacked his asthmatic lungs. A day in bed was the only remedy.
The following day I woke to an uncontrollable cough. No matter, I told myself, I will just rest and all will be okay. Except it wasn’t okay. In a horrible twist of fate I ended up in hospital after I developed severe abdominal cramps and started passing blood. To add insult to injury, and please forgive my candour, I also started my period. I am a middle aged woman who will be going through ‘the change’ in the not to distant future. My body has responded in protest to this by attacking me with dysmenhorrea (painful and heavy periods). There is no dignity in illness. In hospital, I thought I was going to die.
But, like the proverbial phoenix, I was going to rise out of my pit of despair and I was going to take that holiday dammit. I made it very clear that despite my very high fever, the IV attached to my arm, the fact that a morsel of food had not passed my lips in three days, my rising liver enzymes, the continuing abdominal pain and the dysmenhorrea, I would be getting on that plane the following day. No-one believed me.
I called home to let my husband know that no-one was listening to me. Master J answered the phone. “Mum, I don’t feel well.” The virus’ tentacles had snagged him too.
The doctor came to see me at 6pm. “I believe you are going on holiday tomorrow.”
“I am,” I said, trying to sound as well as I possibly could. A cough was desperately trying to find its way out of my mouth, but I refused to let it. It burst out uncontrollably. I looked at her. “I have to go on holiday.”
“I can’t stop you, Sarah, but you are not well. Your liver is not well. I would have liked you to stay in over the weekend, we would have booked a CT scan and some further tests. We think there is sediment in the duct. How long have you been sober?”
“Four and half years.”
“You see, these are results we would expect to see in a heavy drinker. The nurses didn’t believe you hadn’t been drinking.”
I was getting irritated. I had to get on that plane. My family felt to me like it was falling apart and I needed it to reconnect, to find each other again.
“I’m going to let you go Sarah, but you have to promise me that you will eat a very very very low fat diet, that you will take it easy and that you will phone my rooms to have these investigations started when you get back. Make no mistake, this isn’t just going to go away.”
And so it is that I am writing this to you from our beautiful apartment on the Gold Coast. We are all still very sick, coughing and spluttering all over the place. We are unable to see all the amusement parks, or do half of the things that I had imagined when I booked this trip. I am unable to enjoy that salted caramel chocolate tart that keeps staring at me every time I exit the building and a trip to Byron Bay lasted an hour before we were all too exhausted to take another step. Mister D and his dodgy lungs are back at the doctor as we speak.
But hey, we have an amazing view of the ocean and the hinterland and in some weird kind of way, we are all together and we are all connecting, albeit through our lack of energy and illness. It’s not perfect, but I don’t care. We are all together and that is all that matters.