Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It Freaking Pours

I always get an omen before something major happens. This time it’s an oddly weird one. I wake up on my birthday. It’s bashing down with rain. O is screaming. R’s voice booms from somewhere outside “Fuck!”. I peer out of the window of the holiday apartment (a free weekend we got from one of those dreadful timeshare presentations) and notice R, three stories down, looking particularly dishevelled, fossicking about in the bush. R has the ability to grow hair faster than anyone I know and in places on his body that mean he may technically be classified as an animal. I watch his hairy back and face dipping in and out of the shrubbery for a while before making contact. He looks pleasingly Neanderthal. Perhaps this is some bizarre Austro-Hungarian birthday ritual he picked up from his relatives. He must be burying a lush treasure for me to find. After ten minutes of watching him hopelessly forage, I call out to him. He is startled and immediately looks guilty. “Sweetheart”, I start, empathically, “what exactly are you doing?”. “You’re not going to like it” he responds, always a terrible thing to say to someone. Particularly as it’s the first thing he’s said to me on the morn of my 33rd birthday. He then hesitates for a long moment. “Remember how you put your swimming costume on the balcony to dry?”...

Let me interject momentarily. I never put my costume out to dry. The aforementioned costume is somewhat of a luxury item. It’s tailor-made to women having twins and it allows a lot of room in the belly area, but at the same time is supportive and comfortable. I bought it at a maternity shop as a birthday present to myself. It was overpriced and it’s only going to be used for a very short time but I love swimming almost as much as I love self-administering pethidine and my non-maternity one was starting to strain horribly.

You put it out on the balcony” I remind him “I thought it was a silly idea”. “Whatever” R responds, “the point is, it blew away and now it’s gone”. I consider shouting but am afraid of what I'll say. Instead I pop my head back inside and tend to the screaming O.
This is going to be a fabulous birthday.

The details of the rest of the day are unimportant. They involve the worst torrential rain the seaside town of Port Macquarie has ever seen and an incident with a restaurant manager who insisted on charging me for bringing my own diabetic-friendly bread to his smug yuppie eatery. I hate using the word ‘discrimination’ about myself because it always drips with irony given I grew up white in Apartheid South Africa, but I heard myself telling said restaurateur that he was discriminating against me because of a medical problem. Sometimes I wish I’d never studied law. It brings out a particularly prattish side of my personality. We end up paying the surcharge and suspiciously inspecting our food for any signs of spit.

By 6PM, I am tired of waiting for R to give me a present so I ask for it. He looks guilty again and then admits he ordered it online and it hasn’t arrived yet. Cake? A candle? I venture. R explains cake will just push my blood sugar levels too high and ultimately upset me. He's right, but it feels miserable not to have cake on my birthday. R makes up for it by giving me the most fabulous hand-made card and indulging me in some of the best birthday sex I’ve had since I turned 22 at an army base in Israel (dark, horny men deprived of female company can be intensely satisfying). My day is almost salvaged when the phone rings. My brother in South Africa. He’s talking quickly in euphemisms and I know something is horribly wrong. Finally - it’s dad. He’s gone into heart failure.

Everything is blank for a second. My father is a strong, stoic man who has refused to see a doctor about a leaking valve he’s had since childhood. He’s also a fitness freak who does weights and runs every day. He seemed to be getting away with it. My brother tells me that ever since Dad arrived in South Africa for the holidays he’s been under the weather. Finally my mom forced him to see a doctor. He will require valve replacement surgery as soon as possible. As my parents are no longer insured in South Africa, he’ll have to come back to Australia for the operation as soon as he’s fit to fly. Doctors are saying next Monday. Which means little O will go in for her op the same day as my dad, but at hospitals one and a half hours away from each other.

I desperately hold back my tears as my dad’s weak voice leaks through the phone. He’s trying to wish me happy birthday and convince me everything is ok but he starts crying. My father is a man who never cries. He has to hand the phone to my mother because he is openly weeping. I hold in my own sobs until I get off the phone.
He’s going to be okay, I keep telling myself. He always is.
Sometimes it’s better to Anthony Robbins yourself into believing.

And O’s surgeon has suggested she have a more major op this Tuesday. It was meant to just be a reversal of the colostomy so that she’ll no longer have to wear a bag (hoorah!) but now he’s suggesting a bowel resection, which involves cutting part of the bowel out. It’s a controversial operation but when it succeeds the results are fantastic. We’re unsure what to do. I’m madly trying to get my hands on any publications that deal with the surgery.

My life never used to be an episode of General Hospital but I fear I’ve become the tragi-comic character the show’s writers secretly despise. I can see them in the writers’ room “Let’s chuck in an ailing father for Yidchick this week. We’re getting bored with all this sick baby stuff”. Thing is, if someone pitched me a character having twins who gets gestational diabetes and also has a baby who constantly has to have surgery, a father in heart failure and a chronically underpaid husband who’s frequently mistaken for an Al Quaeda operative, I’d tell them they were stretching believability. No one will buy it, I’d say. You can’t burden one character with all that melodrama. That would never happen in real life


Blogger Ova Girl said...

For fuck's sake.
This is beyond comment. I'm ringing you now.

8:19 pm  
Blogger Urban Chick said...

oh god, YC

i can't believe it

don't know what else to say other than i hope that both surgeries go OK on monday

UC xxx

1:56 am  
Blogger Calliope said...

Cripes- what a crazy, awful day. I am so sorry.
I am praying that surgeries go well.

2:42 am  
Blogger Lin said...

Wish I lived closer and could be more support than the odd, "Chin up" type. This is just too effing much for anyone.

Strength & Healing to all of you.

6:28 am  
Blogger Teri said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:47 pm  
Blogger Teri said...

((big hugs))

Wishing you less melodrama and more swimming.

Happy birthday!

2:58 pm  
Blogger -Rama said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:31 am  
Blogger -Rama said...

happy birthday a week late so so sorry but sending so much love now i hope it makes up for it and
emailing now about news about your beloved dad

1:34 am  

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