Following three days of oblivion, my senses awoke one by one.
wiish-wiish-wiish-wiish wiish-wiish-wiish-wiish wiish-wiish-wiish-wiish
The sound and feel of the sequential compression stockings as they filled with air and squeezed my thighs and calves.
pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff as they released the air.
The beeping and alarms of the machines attached to my body. Every organ and body part being monitored by its own very vocal team of wires and stickies and buttons. What looked to be huge heavy snakes hanging over or draped through the bed railings and tucked under the sheet over me.
( Jungle Book in the theatre at 4 years of age. so happy to be sitting there with daddy alone and no one else. the scene where Kaa the snake appears. stiffening up and peeing a tiny bit from fright and trying not to cry cus mommy said be good or he wont take you again. daddy seeing your fright and pulling you out of your seat and into his lap clumsily. pushing your face into his chest and smelling the man smells of tobacco and old spice and knowing you are safe.)
Voices were coming out of the wall somehow. In the dim lighting of the room, I could hazily see a small white square, which seemed to be talking to me.
” Assist needed in 701-2.” ” Karen to desk.” ” Code Blue – Unit 70.”
“Over here, Dad…I’m here. Over this way.Come help me.”
” I don’t know where I am, Dad. Come get me, please. I want to go home now.”
He’s been dead and gone for over twenty years but I babble away from dry stoned lips, voice cracking from disuse and fried vocal chords from screaming and hoses jammed down my throat.
Once my sight adjusts to the lighting, I notice I am not alone as I first thought.
I can make out shapes of others in beds like the one I am in. Shadowy shapes under white sheets .
Three others in the darkness with me.
The one beside me is crying quietly and melodically. In the days and mostly nights ahead, I will come to know the rhythm of her crying very intimately. More intimately than I have ever become one with a stranger.
I have long forgotten her name and with great deliberation have mostly obscured her ravaged face from my memories. The closest I can come to most accurately describing the imagery of this poor soul is with the explanation that her face had been literally torn off and then seemingly stitched back on with thick black stitches and metal clips to hold it in place.Her cries I have never forgotten and still hear and feel to this day.
Heartbroken rhythmic crying like a child. The crying took on such a life of its own within my psyche during my time there with her that she is a part of me now.
There was a young man directly across from me with severe brain injury. He was 19 years old and had committed himself to the state he was in by having 2 beers and then riding in the back of a truck his friend was driving in circles around a parking lot during a tailgate party. His mother later told me that the truck never went over 5 miles per hour. So, moving very slowly, almost too slowly to even move. That her son was sitting on the side and simply fell backwards and hit the pavement head first.
He was a physically beautiful young man with a lovely complexion and warm auburn hair who had been suddenly turned in to an inappropriate three year old who asked questions constantly and also used some pretty bad language that he brought with him when he reverted back to toddler-hood.
He said the most filthy things imaginable over and over and over again, mostly to his mother, as she was always there with him. Day and night. By the side of his bed. I fell asleep to her soft voice telling him stories and awoke every morning to her gentle good morning. To this day, I still carry love and admiration in my heart for this woman and hope her difficult journey with her childlike son became easier as time has gone on.
Bed 4, kitty corner to me, never had anyone in it long enough that I got to know them or their stories. In my head, I was calling it the death bed, as not single person left that bed to any place other than the morgue. The lady whose ex husband shot her for leaving, the man whose step father stabbed him repeatedly with a knife during a family argument, the catatonic middle aged wealthy women who flew straight off the back of her husband’s brand new Harley directly into oncoming traffic.
The door cracked open that first night I lay there and a nurse appeared, letting in strands of light from the outside hall behind her. She approached my bed and stood there for a moment looking down at me. As I looked up at her, the lighting around her shimmered and swayed. She was hidden in the dark, but her hair and uniform made a ghost-like aura of light around her.
“ Well, hello sleepy-head. Decided to wake up for a wee bit, did you?”
She spoke to me the entire time she was checking the machines, and changing IV bags, measuring inputs and outputs, and straightening the bedding over me. She had a crisp british accent and used words like pip and rubbish and gutted.
She showed me the button I was to push for more medication from the box beside my bed and the button I was to push to bring her to my bed from the hall.
She told me about the stockings and how they might be bothersome, but that they would keep me safe from clots and pulmonary embolisms.
She gently placed a sponge soaked in ice water into my mouth and swirled it softly against my teeth and then did it over and over again as tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks from the simple taste and relief of moisture on my tongue and and the feeling that the metallic blood taste would be washed away down my throat.
She asked me questions about the year we were in and who was the prime minister and was it summer or winter. What my children’s names were. Did I remember what schools they went to?
She explained my injuries and why my wrists were restrained and after I promised not to pull at any wires or tubing, she let me free.
” You caused quite a cock-up in the recovery room, my dear. Quite the strength for such a broken girl. The neurosurgeon said they should have expected it from the girl who beat the train.”
She spoke to me and touched me so gently that I began crying again and shivering, almost bewildered by this kindness from a stranger.
She gave me more medication, then brushed my hair back from my forehead and looked directly into my eyes.
As the medications began to do their magic, she said to me ” you are a fighter, dear and I need you to keep on fighting for me.”
Closing my eyes and dreaming of
fresh out of the tub and in flannel jammies curled up into her daddy watching Mary Poppins on the big picture box. the lady who talks funny is singing about medicine and daddy says he will always give her some sugar as long as mommy isnt watching, because sweet helps make the bad stuff not as bad.