I am generally pretty healthy. I have stayed in hospitals twice in my life, once when my daughter was born and once last summer when I had some flukeI am generally pretty healthy. I have stayed in hospitals twice in my life, once when my daughter was born and once last summer when I had some fluke viral infection which unfortunately had some complications and required a 5 night sojourn in the day patient department of a local hospital. Well, that was THE least fun I have ever had and I didn't even have anything life threatening.
I'd like to tell you, I analysed the situation as a reasonable adult and faught my infection hard and appreaciated how lucky I was to never have been seriously ill before. But that would be a BIG FAT LIE. I was tired and scared and in pain and frustrated and emotional and faint because I hadn't eaten for like a week before I even got to the hospital and couldn't eat the whole time there because the massive amounts of antibiotics I was on were making me sick and the hospital smells made me gag and I couldn't sleep because of the fluorescent lighting from 8 am until 10 pm so you feel like a lab rat under observation and the constant activity with the other patients in the ward at night and I couldn't even get up to go to the toilet this one time, so the nurse had to help me to do it in a bed pan which was just the most humiliating thing ever and the needles they constantly kept poking into me (my veins are freakishly small, don't you know) and then there was this one time I went into the toilet at night with my IV and accidentally pulled the catheter out and the blood was everywhere... well you get the gist. I did crack some feeble joke about feeling like Alice tumbling down the rabbit whole and even having the costume to match (the gingham blue hospital robe + the white anti-varicose tights they make you wear) while being wheeled into my op but overall I felt miserable and sorry for myself and cried and when I was released (while still unable to stand straight or keep food down) the sunshine on my face was just the most heavenly feeling imaginable.
But generally, like I said, I am disgustingly healthy. And I have never even had to try. I don't exercise overly much, I eat a lot of crap, I smoke, I have taken drugs etc etc. More than that, none of my friends or relatives has ever suffered from any really serious illness. So there you go, I know nothing about being ill. Really ill. You know you are going to die kind of ill.
I could easily, therefore, come up with some platitude about how lucky this book made me feel about being alive and healthy (generally) and how it opened my eyes to what it's really like to live with a terminal illness. But, that would, again, be bullshit. Because I honestly think this is one of those things that you can't really know until you know. You know? It makes me sick to my stomach to even think that my child could become seriously ill (I am crossing fingers and touching wood and biting tongue here) but I don't believe any amount of imagining could really make me understand what it is like.
All that aside, I loved the book. I cried. I cared about Hazel and Augustus and Isaac and their parents. Even despite their unnatural dialogue and far above average intelligence, they felt real and fragile and beautiful. Except Van Houten. He was a douche. I'm not even sure I want to believe people like that exist....more