Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I am wondering how strong my convictions are, seeing that I am sitting between classes, attempting to do my readings for my next class while sucking on a beer like a baby with a bottle. I get up at some ungodly hour to exercise before I rewrite my pitch for class this morning, and when I get home, I exercise.

That seems fine, but this is all done on a hangover, so of course, reaching for a beer seems to make sense. Not the best form of rehydration, but I am at uni until 7. It is also past midday and I am 2 days strong without cheese.

Jesus Christ. I'd hate to be addicted to crack.

Every time I try to cut back on the drinking, I generally try to eat like an aerobics instructor, but without the stick up my arse. However, I don't think I have ever been successful.

A few years ago, I held a dinner party for 9 people, but I was unable to eat anything for 2 days before and unable to move during the party. The editor of a magazine I was writing for ended up driving me to the doctor's the next day. I am soon flat on the table, with a whole lot of prodding and poking resulting in me vomiting bile into a kidney dish and then being driven by the receptionist to St Vincent's Hospital.

"Is there anyone who can take care of you?" the doctor asks.

[insert more vomiting]

"Ah, no. I don't live at home and my housemates have all gone home for the summer."

The first thing he does is send a male nurse in to hook me up to an IV drip. At this stage, I had many problems with stomach ulcers, acid reflux and I was on so much medication that most of my veins had collapsed. The male nurse calls in another nurse and they each have one of my arms, jabbing a needles into them, fishing around and not getting a bite. After a total of nineteen attempts, they call in a children's nurse. Apparently, having not eaten had made my veins harder to find and my blood pressure was dangerously low.
I look like a crack addict.
My arm gets flushed with something strange and burning and it is apparently meant to plump up my veins.
No love.

"Now, we're going to have to put this in your fist."

Oh fuck. Not this, I had it done when I went in for a gastroscopy and all I wanted to do was punch the anaesthetist.

"Um, do we have to?"
"Well, I am afraid it is the only option. You're severely dehydrated and even if you could get up out of this bed you could faint."


He puts a torniquet around my wrist with the other two nurses watching on. That's right, I'm your favourite performing monkey.
They are trying to be kind, I'm sixteen or something at this stage and they're asking me questions as if I am twelve. Yes, that is right, I know what I want to be when I grow up already. Preferably taller, but that dream ended after I stopped growing at thirteen and took up chain-smoking as a profession.

"Now, can you pump your fist?" He says.

This isn't like they're putting it in the back of my hand, the drip is actually going into the fleshy part underneath my thumb.
I keep pumping, and it feels like my hand is about to explode, and at the point where there is so much pressure, my hand is too weak to pump any more, the nurse jabs a needle into my hand but it isn't the drip. He's collecting my blood in a test tube and I watch it being filled, giving me control of my hand again.

"You're ok with blood, I take it." The children's nurse says.
"Er, yeah. It's fine to watch. A bit surreal, it doesn't feel like it's mine because my fist has gone numb." That's right, for all you men out there, I had just been given a stranger. A bit of a waste, hey?

Ok, Now we're going to put the drip in.

I'm in the hospital for a total of eight hours and my phone has been switched off. No one knows I am here, and I start wondering if anyone has called me.
At the moment, a team of five run in with a girl in a gurney. She's rabid, swearing her tits off and bleeding everywhere. She's wheeled next to me, physically about a metre away. I turn my head and I can see her eyes rolling into the back of her head and the nurses are yelling at her for a response.

"What has she taken?"
"We're not sure, but it smells like she has been heavily drinking."

"MARGARET, WHAT HAVE YOU TAKEN???" The doctor is yelling at her.
"Fine, Maggie, what have you taken? Have you taken heroin?"
She's completely restrained, and nods. One of the nurses is trying to check her blood pressure, but she tells him to fuck off and spits on him.
He slaps her in the face.
"OW, you hit me....you CUNT!"
"MAGGIE calm down, or we can't help you."

Everyone clears off for a couple of hours because she passes out. I hear her occassionally moaning and sounding like she is chewing the side of her face off.

I need a book.

The doctors are talking to the nurses and it appears that she is a 23 year old Asian female who, the night before, had been heavily drinking with her boyfriend, taken pills and heroin, continued drinking, shot up more heroin and then argues with her boyfriend and drives off.
She drives into a pole in the city, and after the crash, drives into a telephone booth, and from the window of her car calls 000.

We're all caught up.

Her mother appears after they figure out her contacts and I realise it is night time already. They have changed my IV bag 4 times and all it has done is make me want to pee. I feel like a bit of a fraud getting up out of bed and walking the IV to the toilet of the emergency ward, even though I find it almost impossible to walk.

Finally, my test results come back and it turns out that my stomach, spleen, kidneys and liver are inflammed from a virus.
They give me a bag full of drugs, tell me I am not allowed to drink for a week and send me on my way after changing the IV bag one more time. I leave and it is completely dark outside. I turn my phone on.
No one has missed me.
I wander around in the pitch-blackness, taking the back streets all the way home to an empty house in Clifton Hill.
My neighbours are not home for the first time since I had moved in.
I lie in my bed and think about how I can't lie down anymore, and realise I have a dinner-party's worth of dishes to do and ashtrays to empty.
I bend over to pick up a plate on the floor and a coffee mug that had been used as ashtrays and my torso feels as if it has been set on fire. I sigh and walk outside, climb on the roof, pulling myself into a comfortable position and feel the chill of a newly changed wind.
I light up a cigarette and close my eyes.

I only manage one and a half days without a drink. My first beer is with two of my boys, at a friend's "When-I-grow-up-i-wanna-be" party where her dad shows up as a drug dealer in a white suit.

I think the taste of the Coopers pale ale that I drank is forever imprinted on my memory, because it has now become my default beer. It is no surprise that I didn't slow down afterwards and ended up with the virus dragging on for months and worstening my reflux.

So, that is the end of my beer.
We'll call it caloric dairy compensation. I know it doesn't work like that, but it makes sense in my head.

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