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 for 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 and into the opening lift, down into the waiting embrace of the sterile patient bay where angels check to confirm your personal details once again.  After a short while it is your turn to be taken into the surgical corridor.  This is where evenly spaced doors are to be found which lead to operating theatres where dedicated teams work to save or improve a life, perhaps both if miracles are allowed to be worked.

Once I could 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 was also waiting 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 their friendly open faces made me feel somewhat more at ease; as if this most inappropriate of venues for sexual thoughts had lain 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 just 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 that natural inclination and instead relax, relax your feeble 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, and 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, bollocks and all.  Each crevice, each crack and each roll of body fat laid bare.  There is no hiding the essential truth of the naked 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, and never quite in the future.

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Holiday Wishes

Give me a sign so I can start the healing,
We shared the wine around the yearly meeting.

As I don’t want to be lonely this holiday,
I’m taking off my shoes and giving my body to the homeless.

I’d give you my remaining years to be alone with you, for a minute of your time,
To give you one last kiss goodbye and a warm embrace under the leaf dappled light.

On Health and Safety: Part 1

Q.1. A strong light has been misplaced so that it shines directly onto your computer screen.  What problems can this cause you?

Please select one of the answers below

a. The light isn’t warm enough to crack the dragon’s egg that has been
carefully placed on the desk.  The light needs to be turned around, with the
main focus of the beam on the top half of the egg, to ensure that the dragon
gets enough vitamin D.  This is so that the baby can crack through the toughened egg shell once it has grown enough.

b. The light has taken the form of a forgotten nightmare and thus
stirs in your soul a form of deep dread.  You break down crying in
the office, demanding that your line manager produces a bucket of drugs to
calm you down.  You lose your job and, eventually, your hair due to the
recurrent nightmares.

c. The light is so bright that it blinds not just your eyes but also the
eyes of the people either side of you.  You thought that this may occur at
some point in your much vaunted office career so you took careful
preparation and learned braille on your free nights.  You laugh in disdain
as your so-called office friends scream for help and you carry on with your
work as any good office worker would.

d. You bloody move the light!

Journal 10/09/15

Every night the front cover of my diary asks me ‘Who are you?’ and every night I struggle to articulate myself, to justify myself to myself.  Lyric after devastating lyric falls from the speaker and I want to share this moment with you, I want to bask in the radiance of your love for this artist.  I find myself driving along at night knowing that if I don’t take the turn off for home, I will not ever stop this journey north. The trumpets herald, but I am not sure what they signify.  I miss you.  Will this job ever end, will I ever escape this office?  How do I break free of my own body.  What are those birds thinking, soaring so high in the sky, eyeing each other, safety in numbers perhaps?  The land meets the sea, the sea meets the sky, the sky holds the stars.  Everything that has ever lived, nearly everything that has ever lived, is here on this planet, on this pinprick in the sky.  Where have you gone though, when will I cross that eternal divide?

I miss you.

This is the thought that is at the forefront of my thoughts, that one that pervades the bitterness of being here, of comforting your family when all I want is to say how much I loved you to you directly.

I miss you.

Did I ever mourn my lost family members enough?  Should I feel guilt now, why has this struck me so hard?  Why does this artist so move me to tears nearly every day.  Their music touches me like nothing else, a lightening bolt connecting the living and the dead.  I hate and I love.  I just want to say to my father, to my mother, hold me.  Hold me.  I miss you.  My elbow is dirty again, how can I scrub so hard yet it not get any cleaner?  I can feel the metal attached, drilled deep into my bones.  I can feel the plates and the rods pressing against my skin, the metalwork that keeps me standing and grounds me, that completes my alien body amongst this landscape of beauty, this hidden careworn ugliness.  I am jealous of your walk in the woods, your walk up the hills, your walk down the concrete slabbed route to town.

I miss you.

What is death when life is complicated enough.  What is life when death is eternal.  The great divide, never knowing just what it is that separates this from that.

Falling Leaves

I feel that we have entered the autumn of our years.  The lines on the faces of the people have become that much deeper, that bit more entrenched.  The smile that was once gaily upturned now twists downward into a sneer, a hint of malice behind the mask that has slipped, bit by bit, over the years.

No longer do we embrace by the waters in the park, but we huddle in small groups by the gravestones of the dead.  Memories that are only temporarily locked in stone and will eventually be dispersed by the soil.

What once passed for love now passes for fear.

What have we become?  What have we denied?

The commonality of life, shared by all that breathe, live and love, is slowly being replaced.  There are dark patches on the map of this world.  Let us not now welcome them into the light of day.  Keep them on the periphery, where they belong, where we need to keep them.

Autumn, as cold as that bitter season can be, can also be beautiful.