‘I felt like I’d been sawn in half…’
We had just moved out of our house to a comfortable 3-bed flat in St Albans while building work was being carried out. It’s amazing how quickly your home becomes nothing but a pile of bricks once you move all your stuff out. Everything was organised at the new place; possessions unpacked and found a place for, furniture arranged (several times), TV connected etc. A good friend had come to stay for the weekend en route back to Canada following a 5 year stint in Berlin and the weather was hotter than hot.
We decided to go to the closest pub for dinner. The King William IV, located at a major road junction a short walk away, a pub I had never been in before. It is one of those large soulless pubs that has little atmosphere and a bar menu that shouts very loud and bold but punches well below its weight. I said to my friend ‘Be aware, that in the UK in pubs such as this, the menu sounds a hell of a lot better than it tastes and I would advise you order something that doesn’t sound too ambitious’.
I should have heeded my own words but I honestly thought the fish pie would be a safe bet and I also thought it would act as a marker as to how good or bad the food was at this particular pub. A fish pie is something I would often order as a pub lunch. I knew my fish pie. They ordered veggie burgers.
Of course, it met expectations, it was shit. Tasteless and unrecognisable lumps of sea fare heated to surface-of-the-sun temperature served in a not-quite-right cheese sauce. Against better judgement I still ate it, I was starving, the sun was shining and I didn’t want to make a fuss in front of our house guest.
If it had ended there I wouldn’t have minded. I was only living near this pub for a few months so I didn’t really care how good or bad the food was but all evening my stomach rumbled and rattled away, churning as if the fish were still in the stormy seas and I felt as sick as a pig. I have a fairly robust constitution in that respect, It takes a lot to make me empty my stomach contents and in fact, I hadn’t been sick in years. I was convinced that the pie would end up affecting the other end of my digestion system and so I waited for the inevitable.
By next morning I still hadn’t rid myself of the offending surf items, from either end and this felt a little odd. I was still getting really bad stomach cramps and the pain had moved down to my lower abdomen. I still felt as sick as a pig. I struggled through the day taking various home remedy medications, Rennie and the like. Later I was perplexed when I had a normal dump, the expected blowback never occurred and I went to bed rumbling and a rolling, feeling quite uncomfortable.
The next day, we said goodbye to our guest, who by this time was sick of hearing me bang on about the bloody fish pie and then I had to take my partner to hospital to have her planned double foot surgery. I had two weeks clear in the diary afterwards to look after her as obviously she wouldn’t be able to walk much. The tide had gone out on my fish pie problem but the pain remained lingering in my lower abdomen with a general feeling of nausea. Something wasn’t right.
The girlfriend’s surgery was only for the day, so in the evening I got her settled with all she needed, walked the dog and tried some more medication to rid me of the sickness. The next morning, partner was in a lot of pain, I was still moaning about fish pie, I was going to have to see the doctor so I made an appointment for the following day, 4 days after the King William IV visit.
The GP laughed as I explained about the fish pie incident and said it was probably coincidence so she asked me to pop up on the table and have a lie down. A couple of painful prods later she declared that it was probably appendicitis, less common in a man of my age and I should get myself up the hospital if I felt ok to drive. See ya.
At Luton and Dunstable hospital they admitted me straight away, while I got on the phone and tried to arrange someone to look after my partner and take the dog off our hands. You find out your true friends at a time like this and ours rallied round to help out and to bring me an overnight bag. I still thought it was the fish pie.
Blood tests were inconclusive so I was booked in for a CT scan the next day. I spent a lovely night not sleeping, listening to the other patients snoring and farting, lights going on and off, beeping of various machines. Such fun. I didn’t have a chance to sample the hospital food as I was certainly in the nil by mouth category but I couldn’t help noticing the first item on their menu was fish pie!
CT scan confirmed acute appendicitis, that was it, off to surgery for removal. It turned out, my appendix had withered away somewhat but was still inflamed. It was also stuck to my colon. The operation wasn’t quite as straightforward as it should have been and I had a drain fitted in my stomach. I was full of holes.
The operation was a success, thankfully, my GP knew what she was doing and the hospital machinery went into action swiftly. I must say, the treatment I got from the NHS was first class, the nurses and medical team excellent and even though I tried to enter into discussion about the ongoing politics not one of them would say a bad word about their employers. I was one of 5 appendectomies that day, one of which was a 4 hr operation on a burst appendix. Scary stuff.
I’m at home recovering now, back to looking after my partner after her foot surgery, not that I’m much use. We are shuffling round the flat like a couple of old age pensioners but can manage quite well. I do the walking, she does the lifting. Our friends have been immense and our dog returns this evening to keep us company.
I know it was a coincidence, but I can’t help thinking all along, if only I hadn’t gone for that fucking fish pie…….
See you fuckers x