The entire ATM network was down in the city. There was probably something grater amiss with the entire banking system as the money I’d transferred on Friday, had not arrived. It was now Monday morning and still no chance of getting any. My stomach was hurting – Id not eaten for a couple of days, but this seemed to be a different pain. I could have been imagining it – when your deeply miserable you always have stomach ache don’t you?


Nope – it really WAS hurting now and right on cue I vomited. I vomited what looked like used ground coffee in a sort of black bean sauce, in fact it was exactly like used coffee grounds in black bean sauce. However, interest in my novelty vomit didn’t last long and I returned to bed.


An hour later I vomited again. It was already building up in sticky layers on the toilet bowl which was now essentially black.


With the frequency of the vomiting increasing, I realised this was ANOTHER trip to hospital.


Thankfully the ambulance arrived quickly, the new hospital being only 1/2 mile from my apartment. I was guided straight to a bed in the assessment area and my details taken. To make the initial assessment a sample of fluids from my stomach needed to be taken. Taken via a pipe up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach. And this doctor did NOT piss about.


He got it up my nose, down the back of my throat and then simply rammed it straight down into my stomach, ignoring the violent bucking of my head as my gag reflex went into overdrive. IT WAS HORRIBLE! I retched violently and repeatedly. I nearly choked. Then I did choke and I wrenched the tube out – but he had the sample.


It was blood. A lot of blood.


Initial Diagnosis; my liver was bleeding into my stomach.


In a wheel chair I was whisked up new corridors and into a lovely new surgical suite with just 2 beds per room, brand new furniture, a 42” LED TV on the wall, a line of gas and vacuum hook up points along the opposite wall. A VAST difference to the city hospital.


As I lay on the comfortable bed feeling shitty Angel walked brightly into the room, looking as devastatingly gorgeous as ever. Her makeup perfection, her hair tied back in her usual pony tail. Saying sweetly “Hello Lee. How are you?”


There was quite literally NOTHING I could have been less prepared for – NOTHING. Sudden Death Syndrome would have come as less of a shock!


Multitudinous questions fought for priority in my head – HOW did she know I was here?? WHY had she come?? WHAT did she want?? DO I want here here?? AM I pleased to see her??


Angel explained she was now the translator for the Hospital – well that answered that. If you speak 7 languages its probably a good idea to work as a translator.


“I need some information off you”


She wanted some information off me?


What information could she possibly NOT already know?? We’d lived together for 3 years for God’s sake??


“My names Hellen by the way”.


WHAT?? WTF?? Was she REALLY going to screw around with me NOW?? Probably, if I thought about it – YES… Yes that would be exactly what she would do!


Then I remembered – I was going to be here for 10 days.


She had me captive for 10 days! SHIT!


AND she was probably going to torture me horrifically every one of those 10 days!


Could I get a transfer to a different hospital??


They would think I was insane, “you want a transfer because our translator is your ex girlfriend?”


NO WAY would they ever believe she is a high level sadistic narcissist that I honestly wouldn’t even trust not to inject poison into the infusion bags!


Panic showed on my face and I knew it!


My narcissistic ex girlfriend, here to torture me for 10 days in hospital – GREAT!


She spoke again and I noticed a slight American accent to her English. Wait – Angel had NO accent to her English – it was BBC perfect. Then realised this girls hair was longer than Angles. OK it has been 18 months since Id seen her; but hair only grows so fast. This girls hair was well past her waist.


It WASNT Angel – it was her absolute Doppelgänger.


Not only did she look like a genetic clone of Angel. She walked like Angel. She moved like Angel. She had the same mannerisms as Angel. The same facial expressions as Angel. Her makeup was identical to Angels. Everything WAS Angel.


Even in my very sick and pained state; I could not help but gasp at the jaw dropping similarity – NO not similarity. They were NOT similar – they were IDENTICAL. Except presumably this one had a heart – she worked in a hospital. Angel didn’t VISIT hospitals! Ill people have too much on their minds to admire her! She would NEVER work in one.


As the duplicate Angel walked away I noticed she was wearing lace topped stockings just as Angel would have. Only this girl had a small ladder up the back of one – Angel ALWAYS had a spare pair in her bag. Perfection at all times, at all costs!


THAT bit of freakishness over, the surgeon arrived. He looked rather worse than I I felt. He gave me the impression of a functioning alcoholic – Ive been one, I know that look. Ive seen it in the mirror a few thousand times. Its nothing super definable, more a collection of a multitude tiny things; dehydrated skin, bags under eyes, wateriness of the eyes, unshaven chin, shirt that is definitely on its 2nd day of wearing, barely detectable tremor in the figures, slight impatience. This guy had them all. He poked painfully at my stomach, then pressed very painfully at my stomach and proclaimed it was defiantly my liver. “Are you sure?” I asked, not questioning his judgement – I just DIDNT want it to be my liver……..! It was definitely my liver.


The prognosis was even worse.


The bleeding was at a level I may need a transfusion – shit. And if it did not heal its self it would need an oppression – SHIT.


I was instructed I had to lie on the bed, on my back and NOT move. I mean NOT move, not even to the toilet – nurses would bring what I mean to the bed. The liver had to be allowed to remain absolutely stationary, to give it maximum chance of healing with out surgery.


NOW, Im NOT a person that sits still when relaxed, let alone when in pain – this was going to be tough!!


It was WAY more then tough – it was quite literal torture. After 18 hours I developed a twitch in my nose – that I STILL have!


By hour 20 I couldn’t stand it any longer. Jumped out of bed and walked around the room for 20 minutes.


Back in bed I was the most restless I have ever been in my LIFE. I could spend not more than 2 minutes in any one position. Laying still drove me insane. Tossing and turning drove me insane. The squeaky bed, THAT drove me insane!!!!


FINALLY night arrived and a very beautiful nurse, around 22, came with more IV fluids. She smiled sweetly and asked how I was. I said I had a lot of pain and a look of genuine concern crossed her face. She said she was very sorry about that and would see what she could do to help me. She proceeded to put a canula in my arm with such gentleness I literally never felt a thing. She left – and annoyingly she left the light on – Id have to live with it. After a few seconds she came back and switched it off. She had REMEMBERED my light had been off and took the trouble to come back and turn it off for me – I was astounded. What a rare specimen of humanity.


Around midnight she returned, put her hand gently on my fore arm and asked how I was – she was pleased I was a little better. Then softly said “I have just come to say Good Night Lee. Sleep well.” I was so shocked I was nearly forgot the words for “thank you”. What a very rare specimen of humanity.


The nurses of the day shift were hardly any less attentive – naturally they had way more to do – but when they attended you they were 1) hot 2) young 3) caring 4) SO gentle – I have had girlfriends that never touched me as gently as these nurses.


The 2nd nightshift nurse arrived and INTRODUCED HERSELF! Asked how I was, she was sorry I was not feeling better and she would get me some painkillers. She injected them with great delicacy and later came to say “good night”. If anything she was even sweeter than the first.


One nurse – tall, blond, blue eyes with a black ring around the eyries and long fingers – she was giving me an injection of a painkiller that stings like hell. She noticed my intake of breath as the stinging started and looked up at me with genuine apology in her beautiful eyes. “Im so sorry – I know it stings” and with her free hadn’t she started to massage the vein above the needle to move the chemical as quickly as possible. Such caring.


The nursing quite literally could NOT have been more attentive, more caring, more gentle at a private Swiss clinic. Ive been treated with less care at $1000 a day spa’s.


Day by restless day went by and I was not improving, however the original surgeon was sticking by his initial diagnosis. What surprised me was that for the first time in many trips to Bulgarian hospitals the diagnosis had been made without a battery of X-Ray, MRI, Ultrasound and endless blood tests. But that changed the first time I was seen by a different doctor. The first thing HE did was have me sent for a Gastroscopy. ANOTHER tube down my throat.


Amazingly the gastroscopy was far less unpleasant than the initial vomit collection pipe into stomach affair. It was still HORRIBLE but no where near AS horrible. The worst bit is they inflate your stomach with air. This forces gastric juices up your oesophagus and out of your mouth. Like a 5 minute long slow motion vomit.


Shortly after returning to the ward the nurse who had performed the gastroscopy came to my bed, to explain the findings in person. Another event that pleasantly surprised me. It was NOT my liver! Nor was it my stomach. It was actually my oesophagus. It was apparently raw flesh and bleeding into my stomach! To ensure this was the ONLY issue the new doctor had a full battery of MRI scan, Ultrasound and bloods done and yes, that was it. BIG relief!


The treatment for this? Multiple pots of ice cold natural yoghurt. And it worked wonders! 24 hours later I was to be discharged.


On the day of discharge I was gently awoken by the extremely beautiful Hellen, the translator, who told me she had my papers and I could go home. As I came to life she patiently explained things that I have no memory of at all. I was busy making a conscious effort to regard her as the very beautiful girl she is and a person in her own right. NO ONE deserves to be viewed only in terms of their likeness to Angel, thats a terrible slur to put on anyone, least of all this charismatic, beautiful and, no doubt, worm harted girl.