It didn’t take long during the month my girlfriend was in the Ottawa General Hospital before I found out the cheapest lunch available in the cafeteria is a small bowl of soup, a carton of milk, a large handful of cracker packages, and as many jam packets as you can stuff into your pocket.
Total cost was three dollars. After several weeks, and many lunches, I found out the jam packets actually cost a quarter each, so this only works if you’re willing to steal food.
So a week ago, on Monday, I was sitting in the cafeteria, reading the Ottawa Citizen while eating a very hot bowl of cream of vegetable soup, when I accidentally inhaled a piece of cauliflower off my spoon. I definitely felt it hit my lung.
For the rest of the day, and all of the next, I kept thinking of the man who inhaled an inch-long piece of a plastic spoon while eating at a Wendy’s. He went two years with it jammed in his lung, never knowing why he was constantly fatigued, and suffering through prolonged coughing fits and recurring pneumonia.
Eventually a pulmonary specialist sent a probe into his lungs and the technicians were able to read “Hamburger” stamped on the plastic, along with the Wendy’s logo. His doctor removed it a little while later, and the man is expected to make a complete recovery.
It felt like there was an empty spot in my chest where the chunk of cauliflower landed, and it freaked me out for the next two days. So much, in fact, I had one of the more bizarre sleepwalking incidents I’ve ever had.
I don’t normally do much when I sleepwalk, mostly I just end up at the fridge looking for something to drink. But occasionally I’ll wake up because no matter what I do I can’t open the fridge door, and it’s because I’m really facing a wall.
So, early Wednesday morning, I had a dream where I knew something foreign was inside me, and the only way to get it out was to cough it out. For some reason I had to dry heave 900 times, so I was counting. I do remember getting out of bed, but it was part of the dream that I had to kneel down at the end of my bed to make the coughing / dry heaving more effective.
I woke up when I hit ninety deep, dry coughs. Not all the way, just enough to stop myself from coughing. Then I just got back into bed and went back to sleep.
When I woke up on Wednesday my throat was butchered. I could only barely speak, and it hurt… like, a lot. It wasn’t until Friday when the pain went all the way away.
I can remember saying “oh no” after each cough.
Apparently accidentally inhaling chunks of anything deep into your body is a bad idea. As food decays in your lung(ish) area it can cause a mucus buildup and pneumonia.
I can still feel the chunk.
My mother lost her job yesterday. Which is really bad. They used the “it’s not you, it’s us” line. Mom was overqualified for the position, but she enjoyed the job.
She was part of an underfunded quasi-government agency in charge or coordinating the digitization of every piece of printed material, ever. She worked with Canadian and American universities, and companies like Google, so every book and government paper ever published could be made “Web ready”.
I think it was having someplace to go everyday, and people to be around, that made it something she wanted to do. Before this she was on contract with the National Library and Archives. I’m not sure if she’s going to apply for a new position. I think she’s at the age where people start thinking “maybe this should be enough”.
But there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities out there right now for sixty-year old women… or men, I guess.
I’m a little worried some of the decision to let her go might come from her needing so much time in the morning to drive me to the hospital.
At least she won’t have the three-hour daily commute anymore.
Cooler, my cat, is getting big. She picks fights with my feet. She’ll follow me around the apartment, walking sideways with her tail bent in half, then dart in and take a swipe at my foot.
It took me a few days, but I finally realized this was ‘cat play’. So now I wave my foot at her, and we have little war games.
When I’m getting ready for bed, she’ll wait just outside the room until the light goes off — she has this timed perfectly… she’ll run in and take a swipe at my foot as I’m lifting it to the mattress. Every night. It’s like she needs the last shot.
She lays with me while I’m watching TV, and when I’m at the computer she’ll climb my leg to get into my lap. Which was a lot cuter three months, and two pounds ago.
Her favourite chew toy is anything plastic — bottles, remotes, the printer, the tips of shoelaces. She also likes to climb into things… half the time I pick up a cloth grocery bag, she’ll be in it, just chilling. I left an empty Kleenex box out for her when she was a kitten, and she’d hide inside it with just her eyes poking out. When she got too big for it, I put out a larger box and filled it with plastic bags, so she hangs out there a lot… just watching stuff.
I also put out a cushion in the bedroom, and piled packing paper around it… which is a bad idea if you’re a light sleeper. She likes chewing on newspapers as well. And the phone book.
I named her “Cooler” after Steve McQueen’s character in ‘The Great Escape’, “The Cooler King” — McQueen’s character would escape the camp, only to be caught and tossed into ‘the cooler’, over and over again. When she was a kitten, my Cooler lived on my porch with her brothers and sister. And no matter what contraption I built to keep them from escaping, she was the one who figured out a way to get out.
So now I have to be careful when I close the fridge, because the light’s burnt out and she’ll climb in while I’m taking stuff out. I also have to leave the top drawers in my kitchen open, so she can’t climb to the counter. She’ll also climb the front of my bedroom bureau, using the latches for footholds, to get into an open drawer. Once in she’ll crawl into the closed drawers through the back — while she’s inside one drawer, she can open the next one by pushing from the back.
She also likes to hang out on the ledge of the bathtub while I’m taking a shower. Occasionally she’ll get pissed off at the shadows of the water on the wall, and attack it by jumping into the shower. But that’s over pretty quickly. Every once in a while I’ll turn around and she’ll be sitting at the dry end of the tub.
Just sitting, waiting. I’m pretty sure she thinks there’s an escape route in my bathroom somewhere. She knows about the front door now. When I put my shoes on she’ll dart under the kitchen table and wait for me to open the door. She’s got it pretty much timed perfectly now.
My girlfriend and I will be at the hospital again on Tuesday (today) for more tests. Glucose and an ultrasound. I doubt she’ll be staying, things seem to be going okay with her here. She’s breaking the rules, but not in large out-of-control ways like the last time.
She made up with her father, and her son has been relatively quiet. So the stress is not so great. I took my mom, step-dad and my girlfriend out for dinner on Saturday night… my step-dad paid. It was the first time we’ve all been together in a long time. It was good for my girlfriend to find out just how much support my parents are willing to give. I think it took some edges off my girlfriend’s concerns. Mine too. Theirs too.
We all ended up at my girlfriend’s apartment afterwards, making lists out loud of what she’ll need. We’ll need. So that was good.