Hospital

I cradle the bulging medical file by my side and wonder just how many months of my life I have spent inside a hospital.  Has it been over a year?  More than a year and a half? How many times has my body been sliced open, how many eyes have viewed my prone body, naked save the basic green coverings?

Silly thoughts go through your head as you await the long journey down to the operating theatre. Even if you can walk, you are taken on a bed, strapped in and wheeled by porters, along the long cold corridors, down the wide lifts, into the waiting embrace of the sterile waiting bay where angels lay to confirm your personal details once more.  After a short while it is your turn to be taken into the surgical corridor where evenly spaced doors lead to operating theatres in which dedicated teams work to save or improve a life, perhaps both if miracles are allowed to be worked.

One time I remember clearly waiting to be taken down to the operating theatre, having made it to the waiting bay where my name and wrist band were checked to make sure I was the person I said I was, that I was here to have this limb operated on as indicated by the black arrow the surgeon had drawn on the flesh the day before.  The two nurses who managed the surgical waiting bay came back and forth between myself and another, older individual who also waited patiently to be taken for his surgery.  I had left my glasses up on the ward, safely locked inside my bedside cabinet, but I could tell from when these nurses were up close that they were singularly young and attractive. The contoured curves of the green scrubs contrasted nicely against the dyed blonde hair and the friendly open faces made me feel somewhat more at ease, as if this most inappropriate of venues for sexual thoughts had laid this final temptation on before me as a reminder of the beauty of life itself as I faced yet another grueling round of orthopaedic intrusions.

I realise now of course that they were doing their job and doing it well, that I was projecting my worries and feelings onto them, that I in some way wanted to be mothered, nursed, and sexually sated by these babes in green because I faced the great unknown and I wanted to be reassured.  Under anesthetic there is no sleep, there is no passage of time.  There is a moment of clarity and sheer muscle relaxation, and in the next moment you are waking up in recovery, dazed by the drugs and sore from the physical manipulation of the surgery itself.

It can be a shock to find yourself trapped in your own body, hazy and in pain.  You have to remember to follow the instructions of the staff.  It really is much less painful if you relax your entire body and roll over gently as they change the bloody sheets from under you.  Do not tense, you must instead work against the natural inclination and relax, relax your body.  Do not be afraid to ask for more painkillers if needed, do not be afraid to admit your vulnerability and to let the nursing staff wash your iodine-covered body, even if it means baring all in a moment of extreme weakness.

It is uncomfortable, there is no clarity of thought or great moment of singular insight.  You are weak, you are waiting to heal.  The pain, which can be searing at first, often morphs into a dull and constant ache, exacerbated by occasional movement.  One of my greatest moments of realising that I am at the mercy of another person was being rolled over onto my side, no clothing on, and having my back and buttocks washed.  It became a treat in intensive care as the heat from a body lying motionless in bed is intense and causes the sheets to stick, to curdle with your sweat and pain.  The relief of having warm water freshening your skin once again is tempered by the fact that you are on show, warts and all.  Each crevice, each crack and each roll of body fat laid bare.  There is no hiding the essential truth of the flesh.

Yes, as I handled my medical file, I knew what it is like to lie strapped to a bed for many months, to lie prone before the great healing god of time.  Immutable in its aspirations of forever being, seemingly always present, never quite in the past, never quite in the future.

Advertisements

The Corridor

I love you and I need you, I wish that I could see you.  I’m travelling down this corridor alone, strapped to this trolley with doctors by my side pushing through door after door.  I can see the light shining but I’m not sure if it’s for me or if it’s for everyone around me.  I cry out, not pain not in horror, I cry out in confusion.  I need you and I want you, to be by my side again.  Memories flood my frazzled mind, a skeletal hand clasps my own and tells me it will be alright, it will be okay.  I can help but feel that this is a denial, that my body is failing even as I flail in the half-light of an under-funded hospital, staffed by sleep walking staff with the warmest of hearts.

I need you and I want you, I can hear voices in the corridor, not my own or those around me but others, crying out in equal pain or in anger at the wait.  Where are my sons, where are my daughters?  I wanted to say to grow up in peace, to love your family, friends and neighbours as one, to move on or to leave if you need to.  We understand, we want you to be happy, we need you to be with us.  I love and I need you, and I wish that I could see you.

The final corridor, my body is checked in.  Checked once that I am who I say I am, that the arrows painted on my limbs are correct and that my brain is related to my body and my body is related to my name.  I say I am who I am and they take it on board, and I’m made to wait at Heaven’s Gate.  Two blonde angels guide me, make me comfortable on the slip green sheets which matches their sleek outfits.  Only bras and knickers must be under their gowns I think, wondering who they share their bed and younger, supplier bodies with at night.  My own is broken, battered and torn.  A mess of surgical scars, shortened limbs but above average, well we won’t go into that but it is according to a litany of my previous lovers.

I want you and I need you, I wish that I could see you.  I laugh, laugh at the futility of it all.  The drugs, I yearn for the warmth of the morphine, of the wicked sleeping potion to crawl up into my veins and up into my arm and to flood the chest cavity and consciousness itself.  I yearn to sleep with no dreams, where the minute that passes is not a minute but a moment between awake and awake.  My eyes linger on one of the angels, filling in the paperwork in the corner of the room, haloed by broken bodies on stripped back beds.

I need you and I want you, I wish that I could see you.  I’m moving, I’m moving, but I’m not moving, there are no words for this.  Through the first set of doors I am pushed, name confirmed once more.  Am I aware of what is going to happen to me and why it is happening?  Yes, yes I scream still dreaming of the green robed angels in the theatre waiting room.  Just do it, yes the heart always beats fast.  I need you and I want you, but I just can’t seem to see you.  I stare at the anaethetist’s eyes as the plunger is gently but firmly pressed down, a milky white liquid seeps into my own bloodstream diluting reality.

I needed you and I wanted you, but I just can’t seem to have seen you.  I wake as if I have been asleep for years.  I crave water, yearn to drink a thousand litres of the freshest water available.  I want to drown in crystalline lakes and to never wake.  A tube has been down my throat, a mainline into the neck is still present.  I wish that I could have seen you, I’m sorry to have left you.  I close my eyes again.

Repose: An Experiment

 

  • The physical scars are my tattoos and they are my identity, of this I am sure.  The mottled brown skin, the lines that gently snake down both my thighs, help ground me to this earth in a way no mere object can.
  1. Sitting on the white plastic toilet in a sanitized room, forgotten and sobbing, whilst an orange alarm softly glows in the glum yellow light.
  • A few scars have been kissed several times by the cold blade of the surgeon’s scalpel, the limbs drained and bled, the bone gently replaced by metal.
  1. Learning to walk once again: hands steadying on the grey frame, one foot forward and one long silent inward scream released.
  • The flow of the blood up the arm; the nauseating but welcoming wave of painkiller, muscle relaxant and fresh oxygen combine to make the eyelashes flutter, the nurses grip that much tighter, the lights that much brighter, the machine beeps that much colder, my battered body that much older.
  1. The camaraderie that endears the long term patients to cluster together, the adhesive that bonds them, and the angels that watch over them.  The simple dichotomy of a child’s mind.
  • Food that is welcomed wholeheartedly into baying and desperate hands, the food that represents the familial bond.  Breaking bread with friends outside of that hospital environment, with the fresh air and clear blue skies and freewheeling squawking of the seagulls reinvigorates a tired body.
  1. The scars that sit silently, bubbling and boiling, ready to ruin a Thursday night with the T.V.
  • A visit to the emergency room; a quick stab of a needle and a swish of glistening scalpel; pressure, pressure upon the limb, watch it drain, watch it drain; the glittering of a thousand stars at night as the wheels glide over the tarmac.
  1. The book chronicling my experiences and more, given up around page 30.
  • At my most fractured, strapped to the bed, broken but healing, here then were people that cared, the conduits of a beauty unparalleled, the seeds of a love sown with the deep blues and pure whites of their uniform.  Of the nurses who took their time to talk, of their radiance and gorgeous faces.  A friendly radiographer taking the time to explain how his mysterious machines worked.
  1. The acceptance of your fate, whether on the operating table or in a newly prescribed drug, would be taken as a given, but was never fought for.  For all the wealth accumulated through the suffering of others.
  • Discharged and disowned, just one in a long bitter queue.
  1. The book I wished I had wrote when I had barely finished reading it.
  • The dream that I am yet to live.