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Monday, March 6, 2017

My 1976 Appendectomy

Yesterday I opined that the three or so inches of snow that we had accumulated appeared well on the way to disappearing with light afternoon rain and relatively mild temperatures.

Then during the evening ─ more snow! We probably received about two inches before it stopped.

And unfortunately, temperatures dipped to the freezing level overnight, so there was no melting ─ just some icing.

My wife Jack had arrived home from Vancouver last evening just before I had begun to start readying for bed. I felt guilty after telling her that I was going to bed because of my 8:15 a.m. medical appointment, and leaving her alone downstairs in the silence after I had turned off the T.V.

Sleep was hard to come by, though. I just felt 'off' somehow as I lay in bed with my head all wrapped up to best avoid having any of the clear fluid wicking from my left cheek's wound escape onto the pillow and bedding.

I am recovering from a large abscess that had formed after the duct of my parotid gland somehow became obstructed at the start of February.

Even though I am now off antibiotics, practically every day since Saturday of the previous weekend, I have had to go to Home Health in the high-rise building attached to the Gateway Skytrain Station here in Whalley to have the previous day's Mesalt saline ribbon dressing removed from the infection cavity; the infection cavity irrigated; and a new Mesalt ribbon dressing stuffed into the cavity.

The wound is then covered over with an absorbent pad.

A striking amount of clear fluid wicks forth from the end of that ribbon dressing. Yet it had entirely stopped last Thursday/Friday night, only to start up again around 9:45 p.m. last evening ─ at least, that's when I first noticed its resurgence.

Anyway, I had my iPhone's alarm set for 6:15 a.m. this morning, but I was awake before then and turned off the alarm so as not to disturb Jack. When I saw on the clock that it was 6:30 a.m., I carefully rose and then sought a fast bath, for I seem to perspire quite a lot overnight, even though I never notice any perspiration trickling from me. I just keep making the bedding clammy, and dampening anything I may be wearing.

I think that my youngest step-son Poté was away, taking his ovenrighted girlfriend to wherever she needs to go on those mornings that she must get to work. However, he was back when I finished my bath and I came downstairs to make a mug of instant coffee.

I was not at all happy about having to walk the nearly two miles in this new fall of snow to get to my appointment ─ I'm done with the damned stuff for this Winter!

I believe that it was 7:26 a.m. when I slipped away on my hike without Poté being privy.

I took a few photos on my way, beginning with this one of A.H.P. Matthew Park just after I had left 132nd Street, and was about to commence jogging across the snowy field towards the small cluster of huge evergreens:

I took the next photo once I was into Holland Park, and facing toward Surrey Place (Central City):

Then I took a photo as I approached the crosswalk at Old Yale Road and University Drive ─ Surrey Place (Central City) is at the right as soon as one crosses Old Yale Road:

Farther along University Drive ─ and right beside the back end of Tom Binnie Park while almost beneath the elevated SkyTrain tracks ─ I took this photo of my destination high-rise:

The final photo I took was through a window in the waiting room of Home Health ─ the 13th Floor of the high-rise:

The road sloping towards the bottom left corner of the photo is King George Boulevard; while the other road shooting up into the distance in the centre of the photo is 108th Avenue.

The nurse who called me in and tended me this morning was yet another new one ─ the fifth nurse in the 10 days now that I have gone to Home Health.

I keep hoping that my visits will get reduced to every other day ─ these daily visits are getting to be truly annoying because of the time I have to waste getting there and back home again.

However, I expect that it will be one of the nurses more familiar with me who will make that decision ─ not a nurse brand new to my case.

Tomorrow's appointment is at 10:15 a.m.

Once I was all 'fixed up,' I took it slowly on the walk to get back home, and I arrived to find that Jack was up and Poté gone ─ to work, I hope. Poor Jack had plans to go and visit the Thai Buddhist temple (Wat Budhapanyanantarama) in Burnaby.

She was busy preparing some food to take with her. She looked tired ─ she does not sleep well.

I suppose that she left shortly after 10:30 a.m., but she will be back later to cook for the rest of us ─ dear thing. That freed me up to make my first meal of the day.

I decided to put the preceding into today's post before submitting to the urge to have a lie-down. It is now 1:26 p.m., and that time has definitely arrived ─ I feel very weary.


I was probably only down for about an hour, but I was very groggy for it ─ I never felt at all rested. The snow on the roof was undergoing such a melt that I was of the belief that it was raining ─ I was convinced of it, and never even questioned it.

Yet when I came downstairs to make my day's second mug of instant coffee, I could see that it was brilliantly sunny outside.

Then as I waited for my coffee water to boil, I saw Jack backing into the driveway.

I do not know that she went to the temple specifically for this purpose, but I was to soon learn from her that her grandmother died sometime last week.


I have not included an entry here from my old journal since back on February 20 because I had not been making any entries for this period in that old journal until today's date.

At that time in 1976, I was 26 years old, and renting a small housekeeping unit in New Westminster in a house located on Ninth Street, and one or two houses up from Third Avenue.

The last thing I had recorded on February 20 was that I was going to leave and hike out to visit my mother Irene Dorosh in the Kennedy Heights area of Surrey ─ her home was my main mailing address.

That little house that she shared with her husband Alex no longer exists, but its address was 12106 - 90th Avenue. To hike there from my room normally took about 1½ hours of rather fast-paced hiking.

I wasn't feeling well, but I was going to make the trip anyway.

And here is why I had gone silent:
SATURDAY, March 6, 1976

A lot has occurred since my last entry, all centering around an appendix operation I had that night around midnight after Alex & mom a few hours earlier took me to the Royal Columbian Hospital's emergency ward.

Dr. Nielson operated, and I did not get discharged till my twelfth day.

I spent 2 nights at Mark's because my incision was slightly infected and required a dressing change by home-care nurses, who just happened to be stationed in Whalley.

Last night I got a ride home to my place with Bill; he will today transport me to a noon appointment with Dr. Nielson.

I am very unfit, and won't be exerting myself again till at least the start of April.

Well, the good doctor wants to see me again Friday; he put me on my own, so I'll be staying at my place. He strongly recommended a bath, so Bill said I could use his tub tonight.

He took me over to mom's, who gave us a can of cookies when we left. We went to Fedco so he could get some shoes. Then we went to McDonald's where he bought me 2 Big Macs, 2 apple pies, and an orange milkshake.

Next we went to Nell's (tonight Bill is to take her, his mother, and Earl to the Surrey Inn) but only Billy and Duck were in evidence.

Our final stop was at Mark's; they used his car to transport a slab of wood, out of which they plan to create a stereo stand, to Alex' tools. So we visited there again. Bill & I left before they did, though.

I picked up some things at my place, then we went to Bill's. He soon left me there, and I later bathed (in lukewarm water), and watched TV till 11:00 p.m., going home to bed.  
I had fast declined after getting to my mother's home, and resorted to her chesterfield to try and feel better. Thanks to an episode of Doctor in the House that remained firmly in my memory, I suspected that it was likely my appendix troubling me.

Of course, I only deteriorated more as the afternoon wore on, and was soon in a fetal posture.

I usually would leave to return to my room before Alex was home from work, but that became impossible for me. I resisted urgings to go to the hospital until into the evening, and then finally had to accept that it was unavoidable ─ I was not improving.

My appendix had ruptured.

Dr. Nielson or Nielsen was in partnership with my family doctor, Dr. Johnston ─ the two had offices basically next to the Royal Columbian Hospital.

I remember trying to suggest that ─ as I was being wheeled into the operating room ─ maybe we should wait until morning to see if I was starting to feel better. Apparently I am able to handle a fair bit of pain. To be honest, I have ever since believed that I could have borne the pain until I actually died ─ even though I was incapacitated from it, it was still tolerable.

My younger brother Mark and his girlfriend Catherine Jeanette Gunther were then renting a home together that was located on Bentley Road in Whalley. I find it interesting to read that the home-care nurses that tended me at Mark & Jeanette's home were based in Whalley ─ could they have been the forerunners of the staff at Home Care who are tending me today?

I remember that the appendectomy incision had a tube sticking out of it, and infectious matter would drain out into the absorbent material packed around the incision. This is what the nurses would come and deal with.

To this day, I still have a pucker in the appendectomy scar where that tube protruded.

My old friend William Alan Gill rented a bachelor suite that was located four or so blocks from my room. All I had to clean up with was a shower ─ my doctor must have felt that a bath was far more suitable for me in my state.

I mentioned a Fedco store ─ I barely remember such a place, so I researched it. The following is from here:
In early 1970, Fields acquired McKee’s Stores Limited (3 family clothing stores in the Vancouver area) and also merged with local retailer Hamilton Harvey on a share exchange basis. Hamilton Harvey became a subsidiary and continued to operate its two stores, in Vancouver and Surrey, under its own name. Finally, the year saw the arrival of a new retail division: Fedco.

Fedco stores were mass merchandise department stores with self service. Gordon Chapman likened the concept to “a department store operat(ing) in the same manner as a food supermarket.” Along with clothing and housewares, Fedco also sold items such as small appliances, auto accessories, and toys. According to Joe Segal: “The establishment of Fedco as a department store carrying all lines except furniture and heavy appliances was a natural development in an urban market as an arm or subsidiary of Fields stores with its traditions as a family clothing retailer with high sales turnover due to mass buying and its continuing appeal to the public.
My maternal Aunt Nell Halverson was then living in Surrey with her common-law husband Earl Primrose. It seems that Bill and his mother Anne Gregory were going to hook up with them and go drinking beer in the Surrey Inn beer parlour or pub. The place no longer exists, but it used to be located roughly where the Coast Capital Savings building now is over beside the King George SkyTrain Station.

When Bill and I went to Nell's home ─ she had a large household of people staying there ─ only William (Billy) Little and Don (Duck) Fraser seemed to be home.

I guess Bill left me alone in his apartment while he and his mother were off drinking with Nell and Earl. I must have been able to lock his door behind me when I finally left to return to my own room quite late that evening.

And that's all I shall offer concerning 1976. It is 6:48 p.m. at this very moment, and any snow melt outside has long halted ─ it is growing very chilly, so we will have a freeze overnight.

As well, we may be in for another inch or so of snow overnight, too.

It just doesn't end! What's up with this Winter?

I think my wife Jack may be napping. She is delaying her return to Vancouver, so I will accept that this is going to be all the time I shall have today for blogging. As well, my younger brother Mark will be home at any point from this time on.  

A better post tomorrow! I had material I wanted to get into today, but it just is not possible.
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