Cold Chinese food and cold pizza are two of the few foods that can be eaten either hot or cold (and cold beer, depending how much your head hurts). I love cold Chinese food. I got up one morning to fix myself a breakfast of the same. My wife was sitting on the couch (8 1/2 months pregnant), I put my bowl of breakfast before me and sat beside her.
Immediately, I saw that she was rubbing her stomach and complaining about having heart burn. I asked if she was feeling any back pain, and hesitating, she said that she had for the past three days. OK, we’re going to the hospital! She asked why, and I explained that she may be experiencing back labour. After putting my untouched breakfast back in the fridge, I called a cab. Five minutes later, we were at the local General Hospital emergency.
My wife was moved up to obstetric ER for some testing. Blood was drawn, off to be assessed. Meanwhile the attending physician called for an ultrasound machine to ensure the fetus was in no danger. This is back in the mid ’80s when ultrasound machines were much larger than they are now.
An attendant wheeled in the large grey box – the computer section of the ultrasound machine. Standing before the Dr., an intern, and a nurse, none of them moved towards it for nearly a minute. After two minutes of fussing over the grey box, neither of the trio of medical professionals could figure out how to turn the machine on!
Usually slow to raise my temper, I was stunned. I asked the Dr., “You don’t know how to turn it on, do you?!” With a crisp cut eye glance, she said, “Not now, Mr. Dollard, we’re busy.” Despite the rebuff, I moved toward the machine and addressed all three, “You see the big grey box, but you might notice this (I was pointing to the only section of the grey box with a bright orange switch), this button is how you turn it on.” With one click, the machine powered up. Body language alone indicted that the Dr. was embarrassed and angry. She gave me a look I’ve seen from hospital Drs. before, “You’re not supposed to know that!”
The Dr. began “wanding” my wife. She asked the intern do identify where and if the placenta was still attached to the uterine wall. After too long a time for me, I pointed on the video screen, “Right here!” Having been to all of the previous ultrasounds of our unborn child, along with the wonder of what I saw, I also asked questions, “What’s this? What’s that?” Basically, an intro into ultrasound.
Assured that neither the fetus, nor my wife were in danger, we went back home. Out came my chilled breakfast, as I literally raised the first forkful to my mouth, the phone rang. It was from the (L)East General hospital, and I was told to immediately get my wife to the hospital where her ob-gyn was located. On top of the pregnancy, she was having a pancreatitis attack – inflammation of the pancreas – which could be potentially lethal.
Back in the fridge went my breakfast, a 10-minute cab ride downtown, and my wife was admitted with primary focus on the inflammation. After several hours, the attending Dr. told me to go home, my wife was stable, and they would call me if anything changed.
Back home in a cab, I whipped my breakfast out of the fridge – at this point it was 8pm, 12 hours since our first trip to the hospital – I turned the TV on to The Toronto Maple Leaf game and as I raised my fork again, the phone rang. It was my wife, who had evidently been given a shot of morphine, slurring that not to be alarmed, but “I’m in labour.”
Back to the fridge went my as yet uneaten breakfast. Cab downtown, and off to one of the birthing rooms – essentially a hotel-like on-deck circle. My wife had gotten to the pain point of being able to crush my hand into a one-figure lump. She acceded to previous offers of an epidural, but by that time she was fully dilated, so no epidural.
After a rough two hours of her pushing, breathing, etc., she was drained physically. But she still continued . . . amazing given the pain she was in, then again pushing more might alleviate that pain with the birth of our child. Not having ever been pregnant, it was just conjecture on my part
The ob-gyn whom my wife had been seeing since the positive pregnancy test was unavailable (Passover) . So, the on-call ob-gyn was to deliver our child and ensure the health of my wife. After three hours, he turned to the nurses in the operating theatre and said dismissively, “She’s not focusing!”
Several factors played a part in my next response: my wife was in excruciating pain – unable to advocate for herself; I was still very steamed at the first hospitals lack of skill; I was also very hungry – I hadn’t had breakfast – by this time it was 4am the next day.
I had had enough. I said to the Dr., “You’ve got three choices: (1) You can call security now, so they can help you pick up your missing teeth after I punch you unconscious – I’m sure the other medical professionals in this theatre could take over while you and I are dragged out; (2) Take the punch I want to give you, and the nurses can call security; or (3) Do you’re fucking job as a professional! Don’t ever address a patient in the third-person when the patient is right in front of you. You’re choice!”
He wisely ignored me, but his demeanour towards my wife, his patient, changed dramatically. He addressed my wife, who was very cognizant, directly. As I looked at the nurses in the room, every one had a gleam in their eyes and stifled smiles and laughter. I guess they had never heard a Dr. threatened before. At 5:24:20 am, our healthy son was born. I spent the next hour or so with my wife and our son, and then one of the nurses told me I looked exhausted, and I should go home and get some rest.
With cabs lined up outside the hospital, a ride home was no problem. Once home, the enormity of the day hit me. We’re parents! I got my day-old breakfast out again – now 8am the next day – put a fork in it, and without getting a forkful of food, I fell asleep for approximately 6 hours. When I awoke, I wanted pizza and a beer.