Friday, June 22, 2012

The House of the Rising Sun

The House of the Rising Sun has a complicated history: it may be as much as 300 years old, telling a tale about a Soho brothel. What it's about is also speculative. One theory is that the actual House was an infirmary where prostitutes went to have their STDs cured. It's that interpretation that I'm leaning on today. The song was, of course, turned into a major hit by Brit band The Animals in 1964, although I first became aware of it when Dylan did a cover of it in 1962. I do prefer The Animals' version.

Anyway, I recently spent a short amount of time in a house of healing. The North Shore Hospital has a schizophrenic reputation. Many people moan about it. The service received by some individuals does seem to leave something to be desired. Many people also love it: I am included in that proud roster.

On my three different jaunts there, I have been hugely impressed. And my most recent stay has left me an avid fan of the nursing staff. Cheerful, good-humoured, knowledgeable, and working under what seems to be an incredible amount of pressure, they were always supportive, understanding, and - perhaps most importantly - very real and human. A few even laughed at my jokes, which is taking their duty to places it shouldn't have to go.

Nurse : Nurse and Skeleton

My health has taken a hammering lately. I went to hospital because I'd asked my new GP about a terrible pain I'd been experiencing in my face. She took blood pressure, and listened to various organs, and sent me to the House of the Rising Sun (yes, my ward window faced East, and I caught the full force of the dawn) because my heart was beating hugely irregularly. It carried on doing that for several days, which is apparently a wee bit dodgy.

My father used to call me Face Ache when I was a child. I suspect he called my siblings that, as well, when he forgot their names too. The heart nonsense (for which I am now taking a daily does of rat poison) had nothing to do with the face nonsense, which got forgot about. I figured it was just an infection, and had gone away under the threat of Drugs of Mass Destruction. Not so. While it didn't occur while I was in the House of the Rising Sun, it did re-occur when I had been released. Sigh.

I returned to the Doc, who whimpered that I needed to see a SuperDoc soonest. I did so, on Friday: a Neurologist, who made tut-tutting noises, and is moving the bureaucracy of the Auckland Hospital to get me an MRI within a week. As getting an MRI normally takes a year ( ! ) this could be a Sisyphean task.

The face business is painful. I never actually believed people could / would / do writhe in pain. I can reliably report to you that yes, they do. Or I do, anyway. It's some sort of nerve damage / disease thingy, and I have been prescribed Powerful Drugs to counteract the symptoms. I am a firm believer in the "Drugs Give Hugs" philosophy, but I am a little concerned at the cocktail of crap that I'm hurling down my neck. Arthritis drugs (yay!). Heart drugs (yay!). Now facey-nervey drugs...

I am wondering about Karma. Did I over-indulge in too many illegal recreational drugs when I was young and gorgeous? Am I paying a Karmic debt by having to take too many Big Pharma concoctions? Or is this the Revenge of a Jealous God, who's pissed at me because I am positive it doesn't exist?

None of the above, I'm sure.

Just one more observation: The House of the Rising Sun - or North Shore Hospital - may be also referred to as "The House of the Repetitive Questions". It seems that every time a nurse ( or any other hospital worker, for that matter ) approaches a patient, they automatically ask three questions: Will you confirm you name, please? And date of birth? And can you tell me the Patient Number that's on your hospital wristband..?

They could add a fourth question, I suppose, depending on circumstance: Which kidney / leg / eye is to be surgically removed?

Kidney : Digital illustration of kidney in colour background   Stock Photo

READING: Well, a lot. Currently, though: Stephen Hunter's "Tapestry of Spies". His first novel, which I'd never read. Very good. Interesting to see how writing styles develop. Also the second part of the "Hunger Games" trilogy. Fun. And I've cracked open Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" again.

WATCHING: Doctor Who and Fringe (of course), and Grimm might just be a starter as well.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION: IXL Strawberry Jam. Much better than Craig's, even better than Barker's and Anathoth. And it's the cheapest of the lot! It actually has big chunks of strawberries... Excellent jam.

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