Roger (my husband) turned 70 last Sunday 8th March. Not being a cook or a good housewife I baulked at the thought of organising a party but on the 27th March I thought I could not let this auspicious occasion pass without acknowledgement so I invited the first guest to a surprise birthday party. By the Monday I had 16 guests and planned on doing the last invites and preparation whilst Roger played golf on the Wednesday. This did not happen as on the Monday he chopped the top of his finger off.
We had eaten some superb onion pickle which he planned on reproducing. Our food processor did not allow the passage of an onion down its throat so he removed the lid, held the onion and held a knife into the mechanism, fooling it to spin the blade. The scream when it came was loud and the blood flowed freely. Why men will not elevate limbs in these circumstances is beyond me. Luckily only a small amount of finger was lost but enough that he could not play golf. Nor could he go to his ukulele lesson. I decided not to worry with further invitations. I had some finger food and that would be enough.
Thursday 5th saw Roger depressed at his impending decade change and I arrived home to find him busily eating his way through the party food I thought I had hidden. Friday 6th we went to dinner with friends – they were all coming Sunday afternoon but acted surprised that he was turning 70. They asked “What are you doing to celebrate?”
Roger’s answer “If I have my way I’ll put my head under the pillow and stay in bed all day.” In retrospect I told him in future be careful about what he wished for.
Saturday night I decided to take him for a romantic dinner but as we were going to one of the premier restaurants for lunch on the Sunday with my mother we decided we would have a meal at the surf club where the restaurant has a great view over Noosa main Beach. We were lucky as we managed to get a table on the edge of the open balcony giving us a great view of the beach and the sand sculpture of a dragon below us.
Sometime during dinner I said “Somethings happened to my vision. I can’t see as well.” Roger was his usual unsympathetic self. After a delicious meal that happily came without chips we wandered downstairs to have a closer look at the dragon.
We then continued walking along the boardwalk and back down Hastings Street, the tourist strip of Noosa. We rarely go to Hastings Street but it certainly had a vibrant atmosphere and the trees made the strip twinkle with holiday happiness.
By the time we arrived home we were both complaining of painful gritty eyes. I assumed we had allergic eyes and used some old antihistamine drops but this did nothing to alleviate our pain. By the time we retired our eyes were swelling and the pain unbelievable. “I’m going to the hospital. I won’t be able to sleep.” I said at 11pm. Roger refused to accompany me as he has no patience for sitting in hospital casualty waiting rooms. When I was finally seen the diagnosis was severe burns to the cornea. There was nothing they could do apart from antibiotic eye ointment which would also help with the graininess.The doctor told me to go home, take some panadol and come back the next day for an eye check.
I arrived home. Roger I think was worse than I as his entire face appeared swollen. It was next to impossible to get the ointment in his eyes and even harder to find panadol as by this stage I couldn’t see anything fine. I eventually located a box which said STRONG PAIN RELIEF in huge letters so I gave two to Roger and two to myself and settled down to sleep. A stupid thing for a nurse to do but with two of us unable to see you do the only thing you can.
Within an hour I was in agony. I lay on the floor in the shower running hot water over my stomach and side with some easing of the pain so I returned to bed. The pain returned and I called the ambulance. That was difficult in itself as I could barely move, I couldn’t see and Roger couldn’t see. There were tasks to be done. The lights had to be put on. We’ve never known how to do this so doing it without sight was difficult. I had no idea what time it was but I knew that Roger had to lock himself in the bedroom with the dogs otherwise the barking would wake all the neighbours when the ambulance arrived. Gates and doors opened I writhed in agony on the lounge. Time passed. I rang the ambulance again. By now I couldn’t see, had an acute abdomen and asthma as the pain changed my breathing pattern bringing on acute attack. This time the emergency centre stayed on line calming, encouraging, telling me every turn the ambulance was making. Her response from me varied between screams of pain and asthmatic wheezes.
Finally the paramedics arrived and instead of giving the whistle pain relief and taking me to hospital they decided a cannula had to be inserted. Due to my writhings this took a long time. Roger tells me that after listening to my screams for over twenty five minutes he couldn’t take it any longer and stormed out of the bedroom, eyes shut in obvious pain himself saying, “For F…s sake give her some pain relief and get her to hospital.”
“We don’t need any lip from you” said the ambulance woman. With that the dogs escaped the bedroom. Zac was in attack mode. Here I was a strange man holding me down, me screaming with pain, Zac saw his job was to protect me. The ambulance woman screamed. Roger grabbed the dogs and returned to the bedroom. Finally I eventually got to hospital where the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis was given. The result of a sensitivity to the codeine phosphate that was in the pills I had taken. I was admitted.
Five thirty am the next morning, his 70th birthday, Roger arrived to the hospital with eyes that could barely open and certainly couldn’t see well, a face that looked as though he was trying to rival Norman Gunston for shaving cuts (he had a beard when I had last seen him) and still in agony. He told me the pain was so bad that if he’d had a gun he would have shot himself overnight but instead had to remove his beard from his pain ridden face. This he did in the dark as the light created more pain and he couldn’t see anyway. Finally he agreed to see the doctor and again received a diagnosis of burnt corneas. He agreed we’d have to cancel lunch and when I told him about it the surprise birthday party. Neither of us could see however to do the necessary calls so in desperation a friend came to the hospital and armed with a list of people drove Roger home to fulfil his wish of a day in bed.
To cap things off as he ate a solitary dinner on his birthday he bit down on a bit of overcooked calamari and broke his back tooth requiring a crown which was done on Wednesday.
We have both agreed that we will not even plan to celebrate his 80th birthday. I don’t know that either of us would survive that again. Luckily the damage doesn’t appear to be lasting as the cornea regenerates quickly and today for the first time I can look at a computer screen and see it, the headache has gone and generally I have lost the desire to sleep every minute of the day.
I was discharged from hospital on Tuesday following an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography just to check that the pancreas was okay and there were no tubes kinked to the liver. The anaesthetist told me I was one of 6 people who had reported eye injury post dragon watching. Someone else in theatres told me the police and fire brigade had gone down en masse Sunday night and found he was using illegal firestarters. I don’t know this for sure but I will definitely not go near any dragons with fire coming from their nostrils in the future.
Wednesday I picked up Roger’s cake from Jaspers that should have been eaten on Sunday.
Still delicious I have already put on 2 kgs as we are eating a melt in the mouth cream sponge cake for 24 by ourselves (we have given a few pieces away). This is a birthday we won’t forget.
My apologies for any tardiness with my replies to your comments but you now understand why.