Life just isn’t like Hollywood

  • Howard Feldman 2018
Not for the first time, it became clear to me how much Hollywood creates expectations that will seldom be met. It was around 12:00 on Wednesday, when I lay on the bathroom floor unable, and quite frankly unwilling, to get up.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | May 23, 2019

I half expected my wife of 28 years to kneel beside me during this terrible time, to desperately clutch my sweaty, stomach flu-infected hands, while she gently dabbed my burning forehead with a slightly (but not overwhelming) scented cloth.

I would have most likely chosen something in the lavender group, but the final decision would be hers. I was, after all, not well, and couldn’t be expected to make all the decisions.

Instead, clearly afraid to enter the battle field, she stood at the entrance to the bathroom, and communicated from a safe distance. “Do you need to go to the hospital?” she asked, unsure of what to do. “Think so,” I replied weakly, batting off a cat that had chosen to settle on my chest. Silence. Not the answer she was hoping for.

“Do I need to call Hatzolah?” more hesitant and disbelieving. “Think so,” I replied. Silence. “Oy. Ok,” was her sensitive and inspirational message. I didn’t want to be picky, but those were hardly words I would be able to cling to as I staved off the grim reaper.

Must be that she is overwhelmed with emotion but was hiding it well, I thought.

Time elapsed, and the next thing I knew, the wife of 28 years was fully dressed, earrings and all, and Hatzolah were bustling into the room. She claims they took four minutes from call to arrival.

I am deeply dubious as to her actions at that point, and will always be suspicious that she took the time to get fully attired (I’m sure I even noticed a flesh-coloured lipstick) before she called the first responders.

That said, I will never be able to prove it, as the timeline is pretty much a blur to me. Projectile vomiting and fainting on the bathroom floor can do that.

As exhausted as I was, I have to say that I was a little offended that no one asked me to “stay with them”. I have rarely seen a medical drama when this isn’t asked of the person who is compromised.

And given that I was indeed on the floor in a state of horrible half undress, I most definitely checked that box. Not one word of “stay with us, Howard” passed anyone’s lips.

And if I’m honest (which I try to be), I have to acknowledge that that causes me more than a little pain. I have no idea if I did or didn’t (stay with them), but before I knew it, I was being assisted onto a stretcher so as to be carted off to the Linksfield Clinic.

“Have you told the kids?” I asked in my best on-the-way-to-hospital voice, as they squeezed me into an ambulance that looked a lot more spacious from the outside. “Why wake them?” she responded, efficiently. Really?

After 28 years of marriage, we are finally going to choose 01:30 whilst in the middle of a medical emergency as the moment to start thinking rationally?

My brain was working, but the words didn’t form in my mouth. I was also preoccupied with not losing my right arm, which kept getting caught on the side of the van as they tried to slide me in elegantly. I was sure that the kids would care. Wouldn’t they?

Unlike on Netflix, my wife of 28 years didn’t offer to ride along so as not to leave my side for a moment. Which was a bit of a relief, considering the space limitation and the nausea that was still coming at me in waves. There was also the fact that we would need to have a way to get home from the hospital – assuming I survived.

Rational thought aside, at the very least, I expected a teary farewell as we were separated for the four minute ride from the house to casualty. I had been sick for hours. I had earned a bit of drama, surely.

Here’s the thing. I really was ill. Worse than I have ever been in my life. And yet I feel so blessed to have had that experience – even if it is just to see how blessed and fortunate we are.

We spend so much time comparing ourselves to other places around the world in order to list what we don’t have, that we spend too little time noting the things we do.

From the moment that I said “maybe” to my wife calling the magnificent angels at Hatzolah First Responders through to my experience at Linksfield Clinic, which was caring, warm, attentive, and kind, I never felt alone, afraid, or compromised. Aside from the few minutes that it took for my wife of 28 years to choose earrings.


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