It was Friday night, the start of the first weekend in January. We had dinner, watched some unmemorable movie, and decided to call it a night, after spending a little while watching the snow fall outside (we were due to get between 12 and 16 inches, and by this stage it was off to a good start). I had a sore stomach, but since it wasn’t too bad I just put it down to Jennifer’s bad cooking ! It seemed more like a bloated feeling than a pain so I didn’t pay too much heed to it and went to sleep.

However, in the course of the night it kept waking me up, and got a bit worse – so much so that, while not particularly severe, it was starting to really annoy me. About 4 o’clock I woke Jennifer up, and told her I was thinking of heading to the emergency room of the hospital to get checked out. She, in her usual calm manner, advised me that at best the medics would just give me something to make me throw up, and that I might as well just grin and bear it at home.

Just then it occurred to me that I had had shellfish for lunch, and so had Jenn’s mother, Sue. so we called her up to see if she was okay (notwithstanding the fact that it was 4AM at this stage). She, however, was fine, and in the absence of any sympathy from Jenn I went back to sleep.

By 6AM, I was still waking up regularly and the discomfort hadn’t abated. It had been snowing overnight, and we appeared to have had about 14 inches by this stage. I decided to head to the hospital. I knew that there was nothing seriously wrong with me, but at least I knew that the snow would keep all the psychos and other hypochondriacs at home – no one else would be as cracked as me, and decide to head off in a blizzard to the E.R.

So out I went into our trusty Volvo, secure in the knowledge that those Swedes built cars that could climb Mount Everest in a blizzard. Unfortunately, however, when faced with 14 inches of snow, our driveway comes close in difficulty to said mountain, and the car got stuck. Just then, Jennifer appeared. Not, I might add, to push, but merely to hand the invalid a shovel. So I sent to work…

It was but a matter of moments – well, 15 minutes – to shovel the snow, inch forward, reverse back, clear more snow, inch forward again, before I made it out of the driveway and down the hill to the main road.

The trip to the hospital was uneventful. As I suspected, all the sane members of society were snug at home, so I didn’t feel too much the hypochondriac when filling in the paperwork at the ER and having to confess that well, actually, on a scale of 1 to 10 my pain level was only maybe a 4. (I mean, I could tell you about some hangovers I had in my misspent youth…)

Despite my evident lack of distress, I was shown to a bed and invited to disrobe. The usual samples were taken, and then I was sent for an X-Ray. A little while later, the doc appeared to inform me, cheerfully, that I had acute appendicits. I of course replied that I knew it was cute, and he should see the rest of my organs.

Then suspicion set in. After all, here I was in a small country hospital. Dr. Mengele wanted to cut me open just for something to do. Given that I wasn’t foaming at the mouth with pain, you can understand my scepticism. However, when he suggested a confirmatory cat scan, I leapt at it, knowing that at least the radiographer would be there to offer a second opinion.

To my surprise, it turned out that I did in fact have appendicitis. Clearly, my superior tolerance for pain had caused me belittle what would have caused a lesser man to whimper in pain. (Sorry, I’ve been too influenced by Phil Blackwood’s detective Peter Swift in what I think is a seriously underrated comedy, “Her Alibi”)

Meanwhile, Jennifer was now convinced that I was sick – in fact, that I was goin g to die, and proceeded to call everyone and let them know !

To cut a long story short, around noon the doc cut me and did a superb job – so good, in fact, that I was back home exactly 24 hours later, on Sunday. I was all set to enjoy at least a week off work. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the phone rang the next morning (Monday) at 9:30 AM.

Boss: Is Brian there ?
Jenn: He’s in bed
Boss: Can he come to the phone ?
Jenn: No, he’s on painkillers, recovering from surgery
Boss: Well, can you bring the phone to him ?
Jenn: (speechless)…I suppose so

An hour later, I got off the conference call. Instead of a week of leisure, I ended up having to buy a laptop and work on a deal. But that’s life in hectic Rhinebeck for you !

Epilogue : 4 weeks later and I’ve made a complete recovery. As a way to lose weight it’s not too effective – probably a few ounces. if you’re looking for a way to get a vacation from work – don’t make too speedy a recovery !


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