Visiting Home, back in the UK, is one of my most favourite things to do. When I first moved over to Aus I went home at least once a year. But this time I had pushed it to 18 months. You realise that as much as you want to see your family and friends more often, you have to give yourself permission to explore where you are, and less holiday in Aus means you need to be careful with it.
So this Christmas I decided to go home for 3 weeks. An amazing opportunity to see everyone and actually have time for myself too. Also my first proper cold Christmas in 4 years.
Work pre this visit was basically insane. I wasn’t sure I could actually get everything finished. But pulled it out of the bag working some stupid hours, and wishing I was the kind of person who just didn’t care and could let it go. Stupid bloody work ethic!!
So with much excitement and exhaustion!! I got on the plane. So looking forward to three weeks of catching up with friends and family, and just letting the winter Christmassyness wash over me. Little did I know the universe had other plans!!
It started so well. My parents met me at the airport. There’s nothing like that first hug in 18 months to bring a bit of a tear. Crying on these trips it seems is just par for the course. (Cried when I left too, when is it that this stops?!?).
The next day took me into London with my Mum. A walk around Covent Garden looking at the giant tree, followed by Afternoon Tea at Sketch. Sketch is just amazing and I thoroughly recommend. We were in The Gallery. The most amazing pink room with live strings and a permanent lazer light show. (They also have the most amazing toilets, trust me). Starter was caviar, served by the caviar man in his fantastic pink suit. The rest of the food was pretty amazing too, and as usual for my Mum and I, all washed down with Champagne.
Friday saw me catching up with one of my oldest friends and the only one who still lives near my parents. We went into St Albans, drank hot chocolate with booze in and put the world to rights.
Saturday was a spa day. A full day at the Aquasana spa at centreparcs in Woburn. A brilliant day moving from one steam room, sauna, and mineral room to another. Catching up with my Aunty and cousins was the best. (My only improvement would be the temp of the outdoor pool, too bloody cold. We wanted it to be like a hot tub. But it was just a bit warmer than a normal pool. I’ve swam in the rain in the McDonald Spa Hotel in Bath, that’s the temp it should be. A permanent plume of steam should be coming off the top!).
Sunday saw a slight (or massive) curve ball thrown at me. I’m a Planner and this trip had a full itinerary, seeing me travel about and catch up with different groups of friends and family. So getting appendicitis wasn’t actually on that list!
It started on Sunday, just feeling a bit run down driving home from the shops. Lost my appetite and just felt like laying on the sofa. As the day went on the pain became worse and more localised. I assumed that eating the Christmas food and running about had just knocked me out. But by 11.30 that night I was in even more pain and was starting to worry.
So off to Emergency I went with my poor Dad, who had been just about to head off to bed. The NHS is an amazing thing, but they are unfortunately stretched to their limits. This meant a five and a half hour wait to see someone. Luckily the triage Nurse gave me some pretty amazing pain killers. About 5 hours in Dad went off to get some well needed sleep, and was replaced with Mum. (Good timing really as things got much messier after this, and Mums are just a bit better at that stuff).
Finally about 5.30 in the morning we got to see the Doctor. After an initial assessment, followed by a CT scan (very weird experience, you can feel the dye they inject working it’s way through your arm and into your body) they diagnosed a very angry appendix. (I’ll be honest I was pretty angry/scared too). It’s never fun when you ask when they would need to do the surgery and they say “now”. That’s just enough info to make you panic. I should also point out it’s a good idea to hold the dish you are throwing up in further away from you to avoid getting splash back in to your own face. So so very wrong, ugh.
So I spent the next couple of hours just waiting to be taken up to surgery. People watching some of the slightly crazy happenings, and being so impressed by how hard the nurses work. My staff Nurse was amazing, totally no nonsense. Clearly running a tight ship, but being so lovely to me. She got me to calm down when I panicked (so panicked I actually made myself tachycardic, it may be time to take up meditation), and kept me at the top of the list to go upstairs. My appendix was still in one piece and I have never felt pain like it, god knows what it bursting feels like. Glad I’ll never find out!
I think they leave you so long so that when they finally wheel you upstairs to the slightly scary room for your anaesthetic, you are so desperate to get the bloody thing out you really don’t care what they do to you. You lay back take a couple of deep breaths of the lovely gas and then wake up one second later somewhere else?! Apparently I spoke to my Mum in recovery, I have no memory of this, apparently I just said how sleepy I was.
When they moved me on to the ward all I could really do was sleep some more. I think that drug induced coma was the best nights sleep I’ve ever had!! The following morning I got to meet my room mates. Three older ladies who had all slipped in the ice, two broken legs and a broken arm. There’s my future right there. I’m accident prone now, so no bloody hope.
Later that day I was sent home, a little earlier than I thought. But if you have somewhere to go and people to look after you, out you go. So my poor Mum was stuck looking after me. Normally I’m accused of treating their house like a hotel, this time it was like a hospital.
I’m glad I’ve spent time getting my core in shape as I’ve no idea how you’d be able to get in and out of bed if you didn’t. But unfortunately aesthetics weren’t on their mind when they were stitching and gluing me back together. There didn’t happen to be a plastics guy just hanging out with nothing to do. Oh well, time to invest in a gallon of vitamin E oil.
So a week of fun London plans went out of the window. My amazing friends still came to see me instead, which is worth way more than a night out at a fancy restaurant. But sorry for almost throwing up on you. You know it’s only because I love you. Clearly hardcore painkillers are not my friend.
I still made it down to Brighton for Christmas itself, but was a pretty pathetic house guest. But there is nothing like falling asleep on the sofa and waking up with your niece cuddled up next to you. Also embarrassing to be taught how to play pontoon by your 13 year old nephew who then beats you repeatedly!!
So as we all know family is what it’s all about at Christmas, and I count my friends as my family too. I didn’t get the Christmas trip home that I’d planned, but got the trip that shows you how amazing all my family are. Miss you all. But would rather not go through that again! Xx