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On a hotel bed with hospital tag
Self portrait in hotel room with hospital tag still on

It’s fair to say the first twelve months of our Ted’s arrival was a period of adjustment. Big adjustments. Our immersion into parenthood to me, was very similar to learning how to skate. As you begin to find a rhythm and just as you start to recognise the fulfilment of gliding round in a circle, you fall spectacularly on your backside!

So by thirteen months post-Ted, our trip to Halifax (Canada) had arrived and we were under no illusions. We did think however, with the tribe of in-laws that would also be there, we might find some safety in numbers. And if you’re thinking “that sounds like the bit just before he land spectacularly on his backside again” you’d be right! 

In the build up to any holiday or break, it’s not uncommon for me to work up to the point of exhaustion. So when I found myself feeling particularly weak and going to bed at 8.30pm the night before our flight I put it down to overworking.

However the next morning I was still feeling frail and 5 trips to the toilet before  we checked-in made it clear I was more than just tired. Fuelled with a slice of toast and armed with a pack of Imodium I braved the six and half hour flight to Halifax CA.

Needless to say, as we touched down in Nova Scotia I was not in a great way.  The time it took to get through customs, get our car and get to the hotel felt like an age. Our room at the Lord Nelson Hotel was a most welcome sight. It was also the main sight that I would experience in this provincial capital city.

I will spare you the details of what went down over the next few days but the culmination of this extraordinary event began with a call to Canada’s alternative to our NHS 111 service.

It was 1am, I was still going to the toilet very, very often, I wasn’t eating and we only had one night left in the hotel. And as I headed once more from hotel bed to the ensuite, my wife Caroline cracked and phoned the non-emergency services. As I re-emerged  I was handed the hotel phone and asked a list routine questions. As the operator spun off her conclusions I began to feel dizzy, and just as she started to assure me that everything was going to okay, I placed the phone into Caroline’s hands and passed out.

As I came round, the night-shift manager was showing three paramedics into the room. They obligingly jabbed my finger with a needle, took my temperature, shaved a couple of square patches into my chest hair and stuck wired pads over the exposed areas.

Upon confirming I was in a stable condition they informed us of our choices. We decided to give the $1000 ambulance ride option a miss, although I was tempted to ask what else they might be willing to throw in for that price, I resisted.

The next day we all made our way to a nearby drop-in clinic where it was recommended I go to A&E for intravenous fluids. Arriving at hospital felt very much like arriving in purgatory. With several queues to several stations, where several more finger jabs, temperature and blood pressure checks were taken. The final check point (an hour later) was with one of the hospital accountants who ran through the pricing options and checked our insurance and credit credentials!

Wrinkled finger of plaster removal
The abused finger after plaster removal

Credit check cleared we were granted access to the inner circle also known as the A&E waiting area, where we waited. We waited and waited and during that time not one of the people already sat before us got seen to. This was going to be a long wait. The final straw came when I  walked into a toilet only to discover another guy sat on the toilet seemingly undisturbed by my sudden appearance. I decided that it may be better to enter an intensive rehydration programme back at the hotel, where I could rehydrate while watching Jurassic Park!

This being the first time I’d stepped outside since checking into the hotel and the  fact that I hadn’t taken a photo since stepping on the plane, my shutter finger was getting itchy. I was determined to enjoy something of Halifax and photograph it. I settled for the community gardens on the hospital grounds, where I summoned the strength to take a few shots before heading back to the hotel.

By this time I was already feeling better but was still very fragile and woozy and we had just one night left at the hotel. After that we were scheduled to drive 100km to UNESCO World Heritage site Lunenburg. The question was would I be well enough to make the journey… Cue EastEnders’ cliff hanger music!

Rehydrating back at the hotel

Community gardens at Halifax general hospital

Sunflower at hospital gardens