Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Appendicitis in the year of Covid

Private Eye came up with the goods

Yes, it happened to me. It began innocently enough on Sunday, April 19th. A tummy ache during the day, not usual for me, then diarrhea and throwing up late in the evening. Now my stomach has strict instructions to never throw up so I should have guessed that something was up. Thought I would be better in the morning, but I wasn’t. Thought I would be better as the day wore on, I wasn’t. Same goes for Tuesday when I really thought I should be over this tummy bug. My body had other ideas, throwing chills that had my teeth chattering and my arms and legs sooo cold while at the same time clutching a hotwater bottle and covered with my faithful old thermophore (moist heating pad) from my massage days. My friend Sue suggested the hospital on Tuesday night but it was so cold outside and I was in so much pain that I could not do it. So she ordered me there on Wednesday, and my downstairs neighbour Dianne called the ambulance.

So now I feel what it is like to be THE person whom the ambulance is sent to pick up. I felt that there was a Gladys Kravitz behind every curtain on the street. I have no idea why that bothered me. And I still felt that this should pass.

It didn’t. Into the belly of the Covid 19 beast, the hospital. The emergency room doctor ordered the relevant tests and by early evening it was irrefutably established that it was appendicitis and I had surgery around 10.30 pm. All praise to surgeons that can complete intricate operations late at night, probably after a full day. My brain is shut down by then, and my body tired. The appendix had burst and apparently it was quite a mess in there.

Recovery has been fairly smooth except one hiccup where I revisited emergency for a pain med adjustment and antibiotics. Recovery does include many many many visits to the bathroom, night sweats, exhaustion, oh, and of course, pain, but hopefully it is well under way.

At the beginning of the covid 19 lockdown, Leslie, Sue’s partner, asked if I could make her a scrub hat, which I set about doing. I was therefore interested to see what was happening inside the hospital in the various departments around PPE. I found out that each specific role in the hospital has their own PPE requirements, which makes sense. She is an emergency room doctor and they have to wear a mask that makes them look a little like Spiderman. The scrub hats come in handy when two buttons are sewn on them. The buttons hold the ear elastics for face masks, therefore relieving pressure on the ears, and stops the ears being pulled forward. If you wear glasses the ears being pulled forward means the glasses have to be adjusted to stay in place. So they are a practical and comfort thing. I saw every kind of scrub hat in all kinds of patterns in every department I was in. It was the radiographer that answered my question about PPE. It was not, you need to wear these coverings, it was very specific as to what kind of mask, eye covering etc for each job. Sadly, I know a nurse on a covid ward in the U.S. and they are issued one N95 mask per shift, and each patient has a gown next to their bed that the nurse uses to give care. Re-using a mask, who can go all shift, probably 12 hours, without food or water, and re-using a gown kind of defeats the whole point of PPE. Another downside of for profit healthcare.

I did notice my dreams were really interesting post surgery, and they intruded into my wake time. As I was reading my phone it would be surrounded by very shiny black ostrich feathers. If I closed my eyes I would be transported to elegant rooms or beautiful vistas. Story lines were intricate and interesting. Eventually as the effects of the anesthetic (that is what I think it was) began to wear off, when I closed my eyes rich fabrics would appear in front of me, a lovely side benefit to this experience.

First coming home had some funny twists. I was woken in the night by my right leg falling out of bed. I needing to pee and was drenched in sweat. And I could not move. I was pinned in place by Tucker, very comfortable between my legs. I called him to move, but he saw no good reason to. I was trapped in bed, and so began the great bed escape. Sue had fitted up a rope that I could use to pull myself up in order to get out of bed, so I groped around for that but I couldn’t find it. On went the light. I had to wriggle to get the rope, haul myself up, persuade the dog that he had to move and maneuver my legs over the side. Quite a process. Repeated many times, but without the dog as extra entertainment.

Tucker likes to make himself comfortable, wherever he is

This whole covid lockdown event has me musing about all kinds of society divides, and I am sure gobs has already and more will be written about this. I am part of the stay at home masses. I am not working from home unless it is my own projects, I am not in healthcare, I am not a single mom working at a low wage but risky job dealing with the public such as a cashier at a grocery store, nor do I live in an apartment with a family and no balcony. I don’t live with an abuser (how I dread the statistics that will come out about domestic violence deaths). The nearest that I can think of my role is that of the society women of the Georgian and Victorian era. Think the women in Jane Austen novels. If you were rich you were expected to do nothing. Nothing. Unless it was one of the womanly arts, needlework, singing, dancing. I remember the character who played Mary on Downton Abbey being interviewed and saying that she would have gone mad with boredom due to the strictures on the life of a woman of her station.

I am so glad that I am retired. I have been speaking to colleagues and the pressure is on to put courses online. It is not a simple matter of taking the classroom lesson plan and plonk it on a delivery platform. Creating an effective, pedagogically sound course with effective and fair evaluations takes a lot of time and a lot of thinking outside the box, not to mention learning how the delivery platform performs. And that is what my colleagues are being asked to do, double quick time. They will be doing it without expert help for the most part, so trying to re-invent the wheel without much support. So sorry for all you teachers who are going to be doing this over the summer, you have my deepest respect and sympathy

Snow removal advertising

Last but not least, this has to be in this blog because it is about snow, and it is almost May. Snow clearing in Owen Sound is quite an industry. Walking Tucker on residential streets after a snow storm it was quite usual to see three or so different companies out with their trucks and trailers clearing the driveways of different houses. Then they load up their snow blowers and off to the next customer. My snow clearer marked the edge of my drive way with plain stakes, but some use them as advertising tools.

I was surprised to see that no one cleared their sidewalks, a big no no in Toronto. But after a few days, or a week, then along comes the city sidewalk snow plow and plows on through. My street is done early as I am on the main road.

And finally, the city goes around in the fall and add a pole to each fire hydrant so that it can be seen even when there is deep snow. I know I have a picture, but I can’t find it. It is somewhere deep between the videos and humorous pictures now taking up space in my photo albums!


The wheels on the bus go round and round


Dreams really do come true


  1. Carla Barbosa

    Ouch! This sounds so painful, physically and psychologically, Maggie. I am sorry.
    I am glad to hear that you are feeling better.
    Looking forward to your spring/summer photos of Owen Sound.
    P.S. – These photos are hysterical!

    • Maggie

      Hi Carla,
      I hope you and Julia are surviving well and staying safe.
      Yes, I can’t wait for the warmer weather, everything is delayed. Not even any forsythia yet. Hopefully I can do some pruning this weekend.

  2. Linn

    Oh Maggie, so sorry to hear about this! But I’m very glad you were so well taken care of, and additionally not having to deal with online classrooms this year.

    • Maggie

      Yes, I would have been miserable creating those online courses. Probably much better being created by younger, more teck savvy people.

      • Linn

        Savvy or not I think the pedagogical challenges are going to be serious, as you mention – I would be miserable too!

        • Maggie

          And you are embedded in that world. Wow

          • Linn

            I’d have an advantage on the technical setup, but my teaching experience is all hands-on as well! Keeping students engaged through a screen is definitely going to be a real challenge, connection issues and distractions and all.

          • Maggie

            I agree, and a lot of time can be wasted through those connection issues and the rest of the class gets distracted. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in our schools and colleges, and universities. Part of the post secondary experience is the connection to peers and ‘growing up’. Not sure distance learning meets that need.

  3. Daniel

    Hospitals are never on my list of places where I want to end up! But aren’t we glad they are there, with people who know what they are doing, when we need them. Really happy you are on the mend. Big hugs from Toronto.

  4. Chris

    Dear Mags-so sorry to hear of your appendix. Sounds awful. Glad you are healing and still with the same wicked sense of humour. Appreciated your updates. Miss you and wishing you much healing. Xo

    • Maggie

      Hi Chris,
      So lovely to hear from you, and I hope you will be at the next get together online.
      I am glad that my sense of humour shone through, you gotta laugh or the pain would bring you down. Slowly getting my energy back.
      Big hugs

  5. Jane

    A great read Mags-as usual

  6. Jane

    A great read Mags-as usual!

  7. Sandra Wilton

    So sorry to hear about your bout with appendicitis, not fun. Glad to hear you are on the mend. You were lucky to have Tucker there for support. I know how good dogs can be with that -” WHAT, YOU WANT ME TO GET OUT OF BED? NO WAY !!”
    Take care.

    • Maggie

      Thanks Sandra, getting better every day. Tucker is missing his longer walks, but I am slowly getting back to them as well. What a time we are living through! So glad they were able to operate, and not totally swamped by Covid paitients

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