Children’s Classics

I just read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” for the first time. As a child, one of my favourite films was the Judy Garland musical with its catchy tunes and camp characters. I admit, the magic faded as I grew older, but I could still appreciate the sophistication of the film craft achieved for its time. What I hadn’t released until now was just how much was removed from the original text.

For instance, there’s a load of violence in this story, much more than I would have expected for a kid’s book. The woodsman decapitates creatures, the lion pounces on a giant spider and rips its head off, the porcelain cow gets its leg broken off, etc etc. The witch hardly features in the book until the end. The terrors come on the road and not from any witches’ spell. The Wizard is a charlatan, but his tricks are more elaborate and drawn out. In other words, the whole book is more complex than the saccharine Hollywood version.

I was impressed. It also made me realise that there are other classic children’s books that I’ve never read and need to get to. I imagine I got most of my fairy tale stories from Hollywood and Disney. Something tells me that there is a lot more dark fable kicking around out there than I had previously thought and this warrants investigation.

Have you ever read a book as a child and revisited it as an adult? Did you find something new that might have passed you buy upon the first reading because you were too naive to catch it?

Although I have a reading list that is never ending as it is, I intend to reread and discover stories from my childhood that I might have glossed over in years past. Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Pullman and C.S. Lewis need to be paid a visit. Some will be a revisit, others will be discovery, but I guarantee I will enjoy them all the more now that I know what I’m looking for.

Language Barriers

Here’s a tip, never get sick in a foreign country if you don’t have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language. As I sit in my hospital bed, I see the nurses and staff rush around doing their best to take care of us. Young-ish, elderly, reasonably mobile and frame dependent. This they do with as much patience and grace as possible. Imagine how much harder it is for them when they can’t communicate with their patients?

There is frustration for both patient and nurse when they can’t understand each other. This might be the case in every situation in life where language is a barrier, but imagine how that is compounded when the person is ill or in pain or when the carer has a dozen other patients hanging on their all buttons needing their help?

I never appreciated how awkward it could be until I witnessed the elderly lady of Indian descent wailing in pain, sitting in her chair, trying to flag the nurses and not understanding that she’s not allowed to go back to bed just yet.

“You need to eat”, the nurses plead, but the woman simply makes a face of disgust or discomfort and pushes the food away.

She chatters to herself in Punjabi and tries to engage with anyone she thinks might understand her. She looks across to me and tries again. Sorry, I’m Mexican.

The physio comes and tries to get her to stand. “We need to weigh you.”

The woman resists and yelps, quite frighteningly in pain and puts up a struggle, one of many, before they give up and try another approach. They ring the woman’s son and thanks to the miracle of speakerphone, they’re able to hold the iPhone close enough for the three parties to have a translated conversation.

The woman’s face relaxes and she begins to cooperate. The relief and gratitude is visible in the physio’s face and we have a little victory. The physio tells the son to tell his mother to eat. When the weighing is over, she is transferred to her chair and she considers her food. A jacket potato with cheese and what looks like a yoghurt. I’d wrestle her to the ground for that lunch, but that’s another story.

Now she wants to get up and go back to bed, but I heard the nurses tell her she needs to sit up for a while. She has been lying down in the same position for too long.

After 20 minutes, she tries to get their attention again. I try to tell her to stay calm and sit back. Via sign language and gestures I think would serve me well in charades, I tell her to get a pillow from her bed beside her and support her back. She waves me off and I give up.

We’re planning a trip to Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) and I plan to take a dictionary everywhere I go.

Everything’s Gone Green

It started with what I thought was a bit of food poisoning. That steak was on it’s “use by” date and was looking a little pale. Still, it smelled ok and I cooked it well done, so I figured, no problem. By 03:30 I was spewing red, white and blue.

So began a three day drink and purge routine that wasn’t getting better. On day three I went to A&E in hopes of some relief. We did a review,, some stomach X-rays and I was sent home. Bowel a little inflamed, but nothing to worry about. A few more days of bed rest and dry crackers would set me right.

Two days later, after emptying my stomach of dark green bile, over and over, it was time to go back to A&E. Let me tell you something about the gunge I was puking, it smelled earthy, like damp hay and had the consistency of dark, slightly chunky Mountain Dew. Not nice.

After a humiliating and frightening 8 hours on a gurney in the A&E, I was admitted to hospital properly. One thing I have to comment on is that I have an even greater admiration for emergency services staff and night nurses than I had before. Some of the abusive drunks and their swearing, the mentally ill and their tears, those in pain that are loud and abusive, the uncooperative, all make me realise that these front line careers really are fucking heroes.

I’ve been here for 6 days. Bowel obstruction, possibly a result of the surgery I had two years ago. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for this to happen after a major operation. We’re waiting one more day before we decide if another surgery is necessary, but I’m still hopeful that it can be avoided. The hardest part is not knowing. It’s like someone holding a raised scalpel above you head and flipping a coins to see if they’re going to slash.

The other hard part is not eating. Yes, my clothes are going to fit fabulously when this is all over, but I have to admit, I’m hungry. It has been 11 days since the steak. Nothing since.

There is comfort in know that one way or another, whether through normal treatment or surgery, this too will pass. My family and friends have been checking up on me and although its great to feel supported, I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I tell them enough to keep them from worrying, but nothing more.

I think of home. My cats, the garden, my sewing projects and most of all, my hubby, who is worried and can’t see me. Yes, we could Zoom or FaceTime, but I also don’t want him to see me like this. The thin white and blue cotton gown, my hair, desperately in need of a wash, the draining tube up my left nostril. It’s not the most attractive picture Although he has seen me through things like this before, with my chemo and surgeries, I want to spare him where I can. He’s there, looking after the home and the fur babies and that’s enough.

I just want to say that I’m determined to get well. I will not wallow or feel sorry for myself. I will do what I have always done. I will be strong and stubborn and cause as much trouble to this affliction as I can.

I’ll try to keep writing while I have the enthusiasm, but for now, it time for the Lord of the Rings trilogy to keep me busy. Take care, be safe. Wear a mask. 🙂

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