Saturday, March 02, 2013

In sickness and in health

I once read that you never really understand what it means to have good health until you get sick. Or as my mother famously said after giving birth to her third and final child, “Happiness is the absence of pain.” Wait, that might have been the Buddha who said that. Or maybe it was Oprah.
            The point is, in the little flat I share with Saffy and Amanda, we have all come to the conclusion that, instead of complaining about all the things that go wrong in our lives, we should be giving thanks for the things that don’t happen.
            Like trains that don’t break down. Taxi drivers that don’t take you to Jurong East when you specifically said Bedok. Wait staff that don’t bring you the wrong order and then pretend that it’s your fault that they couldn’t understand your English. A boss that doesn’t yell at you all day for every little thing you can’t get right. A cat scan that doesn’t tell you that you have something terminal. A meal out at Marina Bay Sands that didn’t require you to take out a second mortgage to pay for.
            A week or so ago, Amanda had to go into hospital for an operation on her hip. The doctor said she had premature cartilage damage caused probably from all her years of running.
            The diagnosis pleased Saffy enormously. Here, finally, was official medical confirmation that exercise is bad for you. Potentially fatal, even, given the horrific increase in superbugs in hospitals these days. Sharyn’s mother-in-law went into hospital for a gastric bypass and came out with a severe chest infection, a result that thrilled Sharyn no end as it meant that her mother-in-law was temporarily unable to nag at her.
            Anyway, Amanda’s operation went smoothly enough. She went in in the morning and was out a couple of hours later. Saffy and I sat in the hospital room entertaining ourselves with games of gin rummy. At one point, Saffy looked up from her hand and said that we were probably the only two people in the world under the age of 85 who knew how to play gin rummy.
            “It’s really sad,” she said.
            “Shut up, Saf, and throw out a card. You’re holding up the game!”
            “There are just two of us! Who am I holding up?”
            We were still bickering when they wheeled Amanda back in, awake but groggy, and still, as Saffy later pointed out, ridiculously pretty even with her hair wrapped up in a shower cap.
            “How does she do it?” Saffy wondered in the cab home after we left Amanda. “I’ll bet you she’ll look super glamorous even when she’s hobbling about on crutches!”
            Amanda was discharged the next day and sure enough, the sight of her tripping down the hospital corridor, her luxuriant shampoo-ad hair bouncing in full slow-mo glory, turned everyone’s heads.
            It wasn’t till she got home that the full extent of her disability became clear to us. The doctor gave strict instructions that she was not to put her full weight onto her right hip, which basically means that she really can’t do much except lie on the sofa all day.
And since both hands are fully occupied with the crutches, this rules out her doing most things. Like making a cup of tea. Or carrying her iPad from her room to the lounge. Cooking anything is physically impossible as is grocery shopping. All of which means that Saffy and I run around all day fetching things and running errands and making breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, technically that last bit involves us dashing down three times a day to our local hawker centre. But still. We’re burning calories.
            Even taking a shower is a challenge. Twice a day, Saffy helps Amanda get in and out of her clothes and in and out of the shower – a task that led her to complain to Sharyn that she was sure that this went far and beyond the duties of a flat-mate.
            “Aiyah, she got no boyfriend, mah!” Sharyn said. “If same thing happen to you, at least you got Blad-ley!”
            “I am exhausted, Sharyn!” Saffy moaned. Even her fabulous bosom looked deflated and defeated. “It doesn’t stop! From the moment she wakes up to the moment she gets into bed, she needs help. I just don’t have a moment’s rest!”
            Sharyn peered out over her thick spectacles. “Abaden?” she asked. “Same like baby! At least you don’t have to be nine month pregnant! That one you sure die, one!”
            Saffy says that’s at least one thing to be grateful for. 

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