Monday, April 28, 2008

60- er, I mean, 29...

Today my mom turns 60 or, as she likes to call it ", make that 28."

As has (sort of) become my tradition, I present to you here a picture that I stole off her Flickr page:

The Birthday Girl, swimming with sharks

The Birthday Girl, swimming with sharks, or at least, a noticeable lack thereof.

And now, if you will excuse me, instead of posting witticisms about my mother on the occasion of her birthday here, I am going to telephone her.*

* Good excuse, huh?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sweet dreams are not made of these...

So I had what was quite possibly the most frightening incident of my life last week, a near-death experience of sorts. I say "of sorts" because, in retrospect at least, it was not actually a near-death experience - at no point was I actually in danger of losing my life (or so Randal has reassured me) - however, it was quite possibly the only time thus far in my life that, instead of thinking that I might die from something or that a certain event could kill me[1], I actually thought that I was, in fact, possibly dying.[2]

Anyway, it was the middle of the night, one night last week; Monday night, I believe. I had been woken up by the dog who needed to pee, so I got up and let him outside. His business done, we went back upstairs and I quickly fell asleep. It was about 3 a.m.

I fell asleep, and soon, I began to dream. I dreamt I was in a hospital. The room was smallish, and was painted white; it was very bright with the lights on. I was lying on a bed, wearing just a hospital gown; half-sitting, actually, since the bed was in a partially-raised position. A nurse was prepping me for something; perhaps I was in there to undergo some kind of surgical procedure, I don't know. Anyway, I had one of those white pinchy things[4] on my left pointer finger, the thing that I believe they can use to monitor your heart rate. At the moment, the nurse was fitting me with some kind of tube in my mouth, that was supposed to help me breathe more easily during the procedure that was coming up.

There were two other patients in the room with me. Next to me, on another bed, was a female patient, asleep. i don't remember much about her. In a third bed, facing mine but over to the right a bit, was a man - tall, thin, slightly balding. Doesn't really matter. He was also asleep, or, more likely, under some kind of general anaesthetic. A nurse was working on him. She had a small table with a tray full of various surgical equipment by her side.

My nurse had finished fitting my tube and had moved off to a corner of the room by this point, so I was able to clearly watch the other nurse at work. It was both weird and fascinating to see. She picked a knife up off the tray - not, I might add, a proper surgical knife or a scalpel or anything like that, but what looked more like a butter knife that you'd find at the dinner table. She then pressed the blade of the knife to the man's forehead in a series of quick and precise motions. There was no slicing; she just pressed the blade to his forehead again and again, in a series of parallel lines, forming the outline of a rectangle. Then she took the tip of the blade, inserted it gently at one corner of her incisions, and quickly peeled an extraordinarily thin, translucent rectangle of skin off his forehead. She lay this in a dish on her tray, then wheeled the table over to the corner where the other nurse was standing. As I started to feel drowsy (assumedly, in preparation for my procedure, I had been given some kind of anaesthetic), I could hear them murmuring to each other in low voices.

That was when the tube in my throat slipped. I started to gag. I couldn't breathe without choking on the tube. Half-knocked out from the anaesthetic or whatever it was the nurse had given me, I was not really able to move, so I lay there, gagging, and with what little muscle-power I was able to gather, I tried moving my right hand a little bit in the direction of the nurses. Though surely they must be able to hear me gagging, I thought. I desperately needed the nurse to come re-adjust my tube. But she just continued chatting with her colleague, as I struggled to make myself heard.

Then I became aware of Randal speaking to me: "It's okay, Julie; it's just a dream." He said that many times. The bright, white hospital room faded away and was replaced by our dark bedroom. I was awake but not awake. And I couldn't breathe. Every time I tried to breathe normally, something caught, and all I could produce was this awful, ragged sound, like a snuffling (but not in a happy-dog-snuffling-the-ground kind of way). I would try to inhale, but couldn't, and then suddenly, desperately, I would intake air, mostly through my nose, in ragged succession, gasping for air. Then, after perhaps eight such rapid snorts in a row, I'd force myself to be calm and try to exhale, but it would just quickly resort back to more gasping. And I wasn't awake, or at least I wasn't sure if I was awake or not. I was dimly aware of my surroundings, and I could hear Randal talking to me, telling me to relax and that I was just dreaming, but I couldn't move or speak to him, though I wanted to. I lay there, gasping and listening, and I was trying to tell him to touch me, to tell him that touching me would get me out of this. But I couldn't move my hand to him, though I was trying, and I couldn't get any words out.

So as I lay there, dimly aware of the white lamp hanging in the corner of the room[5], but unable to speak or move or even breathe, that's when I thought, "I'm dying. This is what it's like to die. If I don't manage to get another breath in, I will die." I honestly thought that this was going to be it for me. There was no panic, just a sense of disbelief that this could be happening, and a struggling urge to not give in, to focus on getting another gasping breath in. It was truly frightening and wholly surreal, especially since, while I knew Randal really was talking to me (i.e., it wasn't just part of a dream), and while I knew I really was doing something strange with my breathing, I couldn't tell whether it was all part of some vivid dream or whether it really was happening. I was trapped in this in-between stage where I couldn't do anything to get out.

Eventually, after about 30 seconds to a minute of this, I finally woke up, or, to be more accurate perhaps, the rest of me woke up. According to my alarm clock, it was 3:33, so barely a half hour after I had last fallen asleep.

Randal reassures me that I was never in any actual danger - while my breathing was irregular and ragged, I never actually stopped breathing, nor did I actually appear to be choking on anything. Still, as you can well imagine, it was rather unsettling, and it took me quite a while to be willing to fall asleep again. I've slept fine since then.[6] Randal says I have never shown any signs of sleep apnea or anything like that, which would seem to be a logical cause of this event, so for now, I am treating it as an aberration.[7]

[1] More on those another time.

[2] I feel compelled to add the word "possibly" because, even at the time, there was a little part of my mind saying, "Of course you're not dying; you can't be dying," but then again, I wouldn't be surprised if most people who die in some sudden, traumatic way think that as they are dying (provided, of course, that death is not instantaneous, that they have a moment or two to become aware of their predicament).[3]

[3] My, my, hasn't this post become cheery?

[4] I don't know my hospital equipment terminology, sorry.

[5] It wasn't on, of course, but, as a white lamp hanging against the backdrop of a dark brown wall, it shows up quite clearly even in the dark.

[6] Well, about as "fine" as I ever do, which is never quite as good as I'd like.

[7] I have a number of weird quirks with my sleep habits, which I have been aware of for a number of years now, and I will get into that more in a post sometime in the near future. However, sleep apnea is not one of them. I also have certain dream habits or patterns - this is possibly my first hospital-based dream, which is certainly interesting, considering its not-so-rosy outcome.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Limited time offer only!*

The 29 Items In My Refrigerator

A well-stocked fridge

This, and so much more, on Flickr. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

And yes, someday I will write a post that is longer than 3 sentences. I promise.

* OK, that's not true. The photos are in fact up for some time-frame possibly approximating (in today's Internet world) "forever".

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Serves me right...

What goes around, comes around, eh? Ah, well, it was fun while it lasted...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Fish on Fridays

Last night, I dreamt of codfish. I dreamt that I was suffering from a strange, slowly-debilitating, mysterious disease. The only cure, I knew, was codfish. But the cod stocks in Newfoundland had been overfished, and, ultimately, there just would be no cure for me. I woke up slightly when Randal came in the room. But I pretended to be more half-asleep than I really was, as I felt guilty that I was allowing him to continue to believe I would someday be cured, when I knew perfectly well that, without cod, I would remain sick for always.

In completely unrelated news, I've been battling the flu for 10 days now. I've been having trouble sleeping*, mostly due to a very bad cough, and have had traces of a fever on one or two occasions. Oh, also à propos of nothing whatsoever, I just started reading Mark Kurlansky's fascinating book on the history and politics of codfishing called, fittingly enough, Cod.

* A state of affairs quite extraordinary for me, as those of you who went to library school or (especially) law school with me can attest.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Breaking News!

I can't believe this is what passes for news these days...

Rumours of her blogging abilities were greatly exaggerated...

Taking a page from Rebecca's book*, I have disappeared for over 3 weeks and now am reappearing to provide bloggified reasons as to why I haven't blogged in so long. ...Well, not really. The reasons are not very interesting, and I don't remember most of them anyway. Suffice it to say, I have been busy digging myself out of snow, traveling to Toronto to play Guitar Hero 3 to all hours of the night with the fabulous Judy**, and being sick as a dog.***

Many blog entries were written mentally in my head, usually late at night whilst unable to sleep, and promptly forgotten the next morning.

Anyhow, the point of this Meta-Blog is to create an agenda of upcoming topics of bloggation. The following shall (perhaps) be discussed:

  • The Ghost Who Came Back, Not The Very Next Day But About 20 Months Later

  • Why 19-Year-Olds Should Not Be Given Paper And Pen To Write Poetry

  • Books I Have Read And Loved or, Alternatively, Fiercely Hated

  • Blogging On The Fake Blog: Have You Visited My Flickr Lately?

  • Huh? I Went To Japan Last Year? No Way! Cool, Dude.

* As I am wont to do.

** And before he gets jealous, let me say that I would have included the magnificent Robert in that statement if he had a blog worth linking to...or any blog of any type at all. So there.

*** The "plus side" to being sick as a dog (by which I intend no insult to dogs at all, as I know for a fact that dogs are wonderful, loveable, unsick creatures) was that I got to stay home for 2 1/2 days from work, watching endless episodes of Buffy (I think I watched about 11 in total over 2 days), drinking hot chocolate, eating chicken noodle soup, and generally having Randal fuss over me to some degree. In other words, not so different from my usual life, minus the staying-at-home-from-work bit.