sick puppy

I recently saw a joke on Facebook that went along these lines, that cute toddler offering you a biscuit is not an adorable child. It’s stomach flu.

Despite the absence of biscuit-bearing toddlers – cute, adorable, or any other flavour – I managed to get a gastric virus recently. I was one very sick puppy, and I’ve been out of action for an entire week.

It’s hardly the stuff of blog posts, but I am still in such shock at how badly it took me down, that I feel the need to share with my virtual friends.

I’d been unwell, sleeping in broken bouts in the spare room for two nights, when chest pains began in the early hours of the second. As luck would have it, Bill was to be away golfing, so in the morning he looked in on me, dosed me up on paracetamol, popped in to a neighbour to alert her, and took off with her husband to go chase a white ball.

Fast forward to late-morning, and the chest pains were so severe I activated our emergency call button (all apartments in our over-55 resort are fitted with these) and texted the neighbour. She was up within moments, and the ambulance wasn’t too far behind.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum hospital. The driver was flagged down by someone on the opposite side of the street. Turns out a lady had collapsed in the road, and passersby had moved her to the footpath and called an ambulance. We were there for some time while she was assisted before her paramedics arrived. Clearly my guys didn’t think I was dying – yet – and they’d already given me a shot to stop the vomiting plus two rounds of morphine, so I was comfortable (kind of), but still very, very unwell.

Eight hours later I was discharged from hospital with a list of things I wasn’t suffering from. I’d been cleared of a heart attack. Their best guess was “reflux”.

Not that I was thinking in alarmist terms, but by this time I’d told anyone who’d listen that my brother died of esophageal cancer last year. So they’d pegged digestive illness as a family trait.

I thought that was the end of it, but no. When the injection wore off the tummy started up again, and later, the chest pains. This time, rather than the ambulance, I asked for the “radio doctor”. It’s an out-of-hours home-call general practitioner service. She pretty quickly gave me the gastric virus diagnosis, and the blessed injection with a follow up pill for when it wore off.

I’d say that doctor hit the nail on the head. My lovely neighbour, the one who came to my aid, administered comfort, and cleaned up after me, came down with a 24 hour version. Some years ago we were “bunion buddies” having that surgery together. Another time, while travelling together, she had to take me to hospital in Split with similar symptoms to above. And now, this. We are such close friends 🙂 At least she can laugh about it.

Some days before I got sick, a friend visited and set me up with his Netflix account. Once I felt a bit better, but not yet well, I lolled on the lounge binge-watching The Crown, starting from the first series. I’ve almost finished Series 3.

So what am I left with now? Weakness, lethargy, and blurred vision. A taste for soft-boiled eggs with processed white bread. A fear that I must be getting old, since I didn’t rally easily. And a tendency to slip into an upper-class British accent circa mid-20th century.

Last night I ate food that required chewing for the first time in seven days. In honour of one of our American residents, eighty-five of us became her family for a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, vegetables and pumpkin pie. It was nice to have a little taste of each, but I was careful not to go mad.

She invited us to reflect on what we are thankful for at this time in our lives; and I think this post demonstrates my thoughts.

I’m thankful to live in a society where there is an ambulance when you call. To have a hospital ready to receive you, and who doesn’t discharge you until they are satisfied it is safe to do so. To have doctors who are prepared to come to the house and administer practical advice and relief. To have the type of medical system where those choices are not dependent on your ability to pay. To have friends who are ready to get sick on your account. To have supportive neighbours who raid their pantry to find something you feel like eating (you know who you are). To have a dear friend who sensed I was unwell, and rang to check on me.

And most of all, as she re-assured me, I am thankful to be certain: this too, shall pass.







33 thoughts on “THANKFULNESS

  1. Oh dear! What a terribly unpleasant thing, Gwen. I hope you are living in a less blurry world by now, and that your energy has returned. What a way to be reminded to be thankful of a medical system most people can only dream of. Have a wonderful and joyful Christmas season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can read again, but it has reminded me I am overdue to upgrade my eyeglasses. As for energy, it was a slow recovery, but I am back to full fitness now. I’ve just been watching your video on the dry-walling, though – and I think my days of being such a helpful builder’s labourer as you are well behind me.


      • Glad you are back to full fitness, Gwen. Well, I guess I must make the most of the strength and energy I have left before it disappears. My body definitely reminds me on a regular basis that I am not quite 20 anymore. 🙂 Then again, hopefully by being more physically active by working the land, my energy and physical abilities will stretch a bit further into old age. My dad still farms at age 86 (albeit with less vigor and strength), so it is definitely an encouraging example and motivation to get off my butt.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounded awful. Last time I had a bout of that – in 2013 – I ended up In an Auckland hospital with severe dehydration and was put on a drip. Couldn’t even swallow without vomiting. What was a Split hospital like? I only have good memories of Split institutions. Mum and I had our hair down there. Brett back from Adelaide to return all his work stuff and retire. He is off to NZ tomorrow. Tonight we are going to Japanese with some Darlington neighbours, including Pauline.


    • I was in the same situation with trying to keep anything down, which is why I was injected both times with the medication to stop the vomiting, I couldn’t hold a tablet down. I don’t know why they didn’t put me on a drip in emergency as I was also dehydrated. I lived on those gastrolyte drinks for the next few days. Watch out, there is a lot of this virus around apparently, and it is particularly strong.

      In Split, I was first triaged at a clinic (that’s their system), and then sent to the separate infectious diseases hospital. I really didn’t get past an area like a doctor’s consulting room. Saw an “interesting” doctor. He wanted to engage in a debate about our indigenous community. I was too sick to engage. He couldn’t examine me as intensely as he’d have liked because my abdomen was too tender. He cleared me of being infectious, and told me if I didn’t get better in a couple of days, don’t come see him, consult a bowel surgeon. Uplifting, re-assuring stuff. But he did put me in a little dispensing room and infused me with two bags of fluid, which was very welcome.

      Good luck with the move. I’ll be in Sydney on Saturday, lunching with my old work buddies at The Malaya.


  3. Oh Gwen I am so sorry to hear that you were so unexpectedly and so horribly ill and I do hope you’ve fully recovered by now.

    I was amazed to read about the symptoms you describe as I have had something very similar though DEFINITELY not as virulent. Last month was the first time I have ever had a gastric virus that was accompanied by such frequent heart palpitations. They were so persistent that I was coughing and coughing trying to resettle my heartbeat on and off all the time I was awake. The very nasty bit lasted for over 10 days, I thought it had gone, but it came back for another go and I was ill for nearly a month in total. I went to the doctors on day seven, was sent for tests including blood tests and all came back negative. The doc said probably a virus, but he definitely did look at me sideways and didn’t quite believe me when I said my heart kept going mad. It was the strangest bug I’ve had and wiped me out, I just stopped eating anything and over the month I’ve lost nearly 7kg. I looked online to see about heart and gastric probs and couldn’t find anything so I have been dumbstruck that you’ve had something so similar. So sorry that it was bad enough to call the ambulance, but so relieved you have such a great health system in Australia that looked after you well. And, thank you, so very grateful that you have shared this experience as your account has been very, very reassuring for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very interesting. I did feel a bit silly about blogging about being sick, so you’ve given me heart.
      All the blood tests at the hospital revealed nothing, except that I was on the borderline for a protein that shows damage to the heart muscle (triponen). A follow up test some hours later cleared me of that, as the number would have had to go up by 50%, when it in fact decreased slightly.
      The radio doctor the next day suggested the pain was actually coming from my oesophagus, as I was scouring it with vomiting acid and bile, and experiencing reflux in general. It radiated across my right side of the chest and down my back to the shoulder blade. Extremely painful, and hard to imagine all caused from the gut.
      I was off my food for well over a week; and while I would have welcomed losing some weight and keeping it off, a 7kg loss in that short time would have been alarming.
      I’m improving, but still not bouncy yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I have heard about referred pain before especially in women where radiating pain reaches to their shoulder blades, often when they are having gall bladder problems. The trouble is that women in particular must not ignore these symptoms as, like your medics knew, there can be heart problems. Much better to be safe than sorry, get to a hospital and get tested. It really knocks you for six when you have an unexpected dose of illness doesn’t it? Yes, I think my doctor was a little alarmed about my weight loss after I left the surgery as I got a phone call the next morning telling me to go and get my blood tested. Hope each day you are feeling stronger and getting your energy back.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Several of my Australian friends who have more serious illnesses have commented on my Facebook page with their support of our medical system. Even though it gets its fair share of complaints, we are indeed lucky to have Medicare. I am glad you appreciated this post. Hope you had a happy thanksgiving with your family.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks GP. There were five huge turkeys served at a long table set up in our dining room hallway, and one of us wanted to take the carcasses home for making stock. Unfortunately the restaurant hygiene rules did not allow it. That link went through to an article on a shell for a turtle. Was that the correct one? Happy thanksgiving.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Gwen. Hope you’ve fully recovered. Your quotes on ‘thankfulness’ resonated with me. I’ve travelled to a few third world countries and we are, indeed, very fortunate to live in Australia. I also agree with the previous statement that if you live in remote areas of Australia, you are very disadvantaged.


    • Dear Barb, great to hear from you; and thank you for your insightful comment. Happy to say I seem to have turned the corner, but, considering it was a “simple” virus, I am sure surprised at how long it’s taken to return to normal.


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