How Did I Quit Smoking? I Just Stopped!

By Sean McDermott

I had quit smoking so many times that I decided not to use that word ever again and now when I hear people say that they have “quit”,  I take it lightly and reserve comment.  Quitting is something that you fear, something that you approach slowly and have a plan in place to overcome the odds, the mood swings, the cravings.  I had no such thing.

Let me give you some untypical background.  In July of 2007 I arrived at Toronto Western Hospital in an ambulance dying of Liver Disease from Alcoholism.  I know this because they told me next morning that I had been dying for about two weeks. I wouldn’t have made it through the night if my sister and Mother had not insisted as I lay in my sweat-drenched Queen bed, throwing up repeatedly, that I had to go to hospital.  Even then I kept thinking,  “if I could just rest” but I went as they say, kicking and screaming.  The Chief Physician the very next morning visited my bedside, told me that I was very lucky and that my life was about to change, that is if I wanted to live.  There is always the [...] continue the story

To Answer Honestly, or not…

By Sean McDermott

“How are you”, says my Doctors.

“How are you feeling” say my friends.

“How have you been” say my acquaintances………………….

I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know how to explain or analogise this state. I am still waiting for a liver transplant after four years. Those haven’t been wasted years because I’ve learned a lot about myself and I haven’t changed a lot, but I have a little. The fact is the liver transplant list here in Toronto is comprised of 6-700 individuals like myself with various factors leading to the eventual destruction of enough liver tissue to prevent any possibility of re-generation. The person to receive the next transplant (about 1 every 3 or 4 days) is close to death or heading there quickly and will not live without transplant. Others like me suffer imbalances in our metabolism that causes fluid retention and extreme fatigue.There is a separate structure (Living Donor) for those whose family or friends will donate half a liver in an elaborate but lifesaving surgery without the wait.

The wait.

If I were to find you lined up in a bank or for a bus, and instead of being the usual ten minutes it was now two hours [...] continue the story

Being…in Hospital.

By Sean McDermott

Most people at a young age have had the profoundly unnerving experience of visiting a loved one in hospital.  This doesn’t have to be a shocking episode, it might as well be a maternity ward or a broken leg but it tends to stay lingering, unwelcome in the memory bank, creating interest that you can cash out in anxious nightmares or an unwillingness to park in hospital zones.  The sights and smells and sounds of a hospital even when you’ve apparently grown up, are this great big mystery and you can’t help but sneak a peek into the other rooms as you try and find where Aunt Flora is or figure out if you’re in the right wing.  It may take you 20 minutes from the moment you close your car door to the feigned cheery “hello, anyone home?” as you round the last curtain and witness the horror.  Where to stand , where to put the flowers (don’t bring flowers to a hospital ), where to sit and leak the news that “ I really can’t stay too long” as you wriggle in your very essence. It’s normal.  Many things happen in hospital to many people of different [...] continue the story

Memorise the Room

By Sean McDermott

It was three years ago and some that I was taken to Brampton Hospital at breakneck speed with sirens and horns blasting and just myself and a paramedic in the back attempting to survive what seemed like the last lap of the Indy 500.

It was December, and although I was almost completely bed-ridden with the violent symptoms of End Stage Liver Disease and had retained enough water to fill a small decorative pond, I said goodbye to my daughter and my extended family as they planned to trek up to Caledon and fetch a tree for the coming Christmas season.  “I’ll be fine, “ I said reassuringly, for I had eaten well, I was in good spirits and the remote and the phone were on the bed beside me.  “Have fun.”

I had been suffering from some electrolyte management failures lately and had become accustomed to a heart arrhythmia that sounded like a beginner drummer.  He couldn’t come in on the one after a speedy drum solo. It had something to do with high potassium levels and the inability of my scrunched up liver to act normally. The family were gone about an hour when I started to feel [...] continue the story

Hospital Start to Finish | Part 1

By Sean McDermott

1. Through the Emergency Doors

Heading down to emergency is no easy matter. The time is of the utmost importance if you have a couple of hours to play with. Arriving on a weekday evening around 7 pm is not recommended since all slips and falls and construction accidents and pending stitches and the odd fierce flu is sitting there in the emergency waiting room, moaning about how long it is taking and peering through the mystery doors as they swing open and close again. Depending on the hospital and the length of its halls around “emerg” don’t be surprised to see the elderly, hooked to ECGs and remaining relatively quiet, parked waiting for admittance to what is only the first stage of a tiring evening. Arriving on Friday or Saturday night near midnight is out of the question because barfight stragglers and anyone arrested who has gotten hurt in the process stares at you as you sign in, and continues yelling at the Police Officers who nabbed them and the Nurses who firmly remind the inebriated to stop singing that 70’s Rock classic and no you can’t smoke in here.

I prefer to try and hold out til the [...] continue the story