I’ve relayed the encounter below to the handful of wonderful beings that have been privy to My Pain, first-hand as well as those I’ve felt comfortable enough to share with, few and far between thus far. Of the whole debacle, this one stands out the most for me. It was a time of liberation, defeat, depression and retreat.
Things were different in the General Ward with no single nurse being assigned to me. I was left to my own devices, thoughts and nightmares with the occasional doctor, therapist or nurse swinging by to administer medication, physio and a modicum of assistance. The first night was dreadful. When I needed a drink of water or my drip machine beeped or my food had fallen to the floor, I had to yell out NURSE! My arms could somewhat move but the fingers were still cursed by the brain. This implies that the little remote one would ordinarily press for assistance was still useless to me. My calls were never answered immediately for my voice was still a shadow of what it was and my room was a private, secluded one.
The lights screamed to life and so did my mind. It was morning, once more. Roughly 4am, I gathered by the routine of the encampment they call hospital. I had gotten around 2 hours of sleep. All I wanted to do was turn onto my side but I was confined to coffin stance sleeping; on my back. Two cheerful nurses entered my room and apologized profusely for having to wake me. It was time for the bathing ritual which I so loathed. A hospital gown was still all I was allowed to wear and it infuriated me to no end. Yes, I was in bed most of the time but the comfort of wearing one’s own attire in situations like these is more therapeutic that you can imagine. My keeper had replenished the cosmetic stocks needed for my skin. Camphor Cream (my favourite), Bio-Oil, aloe scented deodorant, toothpaste, a lavender scented soap and my beloved purple toothbrush. I relished these scents as they were my happy place. I never took note of how governed by scent I was. Olfactory senses store and bring to life memories passed more than any other for me. The nurses went about the ritual. One thing I had neglected to mention in my other recollections were the socks I had to wear. The white, knee-high monstrosities that I grew to hate but they stimulated circulation for a bed ridden woman such as myself so they were a necessary incumbent. They removed the socks from my bulging feet and commented on how much the swelling has come down. My entire body swelled to almost 3 times its state after the many surgeries. Morphine, they say. For the first time in what seemed like aeons, I took notice of my feet. They were yellowish-pale and bared a sickening resemblance to skinned potatoes. My toenails were painted black and were unashamedly long. I had not been able to pamper and prune them in a while, of course. While I lay there naked waiting for them to begin the bathing, I took note of my body for the first time as well. So pale. So… Alien. There was a tube lurking out from beneath the skin of my left sided tummy. Its sickly demise ended in a transparent bag at the edge of my bed. A yellowish-green substance was being drained from my insides. Bodily fluids send a tinge of disgust to many an ordinary person but my goo reminded me of pea soup and I felt hungry. Ha. Don’t judge me. I am still starving. The length of my tummy had an elongated bandage of sorts over it. I longed to pry it loose to see what’s underneath… The top had started to come loose. I shall attack this later. I was left clean, combed and thirsting for any sort liquid. In comes the tea-lady.
She placed a tray on the movable table adjacent to my bed and adjusted its height to almost reach my chin. On the tray was a beautiful, silver little pot of tea, a cup in a saucer with a teaspoon, a tiny metal jug of cold milk and 4 sachets of sugar. I had requested 4 of them. The comforting bliss of a sweet cup of tea was my melodic reprise to almost any situation. I took in the aroma of the brewing tea and smiled. It delighted me. It comforted me. My left hand and arm was now far more able than my right. The right one could barely move still. It bared dark markings from the elbow to the wrist and yet the blood takers still insisted on drawing from these painful markings as opposed to the better off left.
As I visually embraced the components of my leaf-brewed satisfaction, the immense task of bringing all the components together struck me. The sugar packets had to be opened and put into the cup. The pot of tea would have to be lifted and subsequently poured into the very same cup. Milk, as well of course. Then the spoon would have to be lifted, dipped into the cup and stirred so all that sugary goodness may dissolve into the warm elixir of home. No easy task. At all. I brought a sugar packet to my mouth and attempted to bite it open. Its contents spilled over the side of my bed. Defeat. Dread. No. Persist. The second packet broke open by the will of my teeth and I tried to empty in into the cup. It spilled over the tray. More defeat. The third and fourth packets went better. I got them into the vessel of warmth. Two sugars are better than none. Next came the teapot. It was the heaviest object I had ever had to lift. My wrist convulsed with the pressure and some of it collapsed onto my chest. It was boiling to the touch but I was adamant. Half of the contents of the pot miraculously landed into the cup with the other half burning my skin and creating daunting inkblots of confusion on my sheets. These would have to be replaced. The milk was a less tedious task but I thought I’d add some to my existing tea-drenched chest. Just for fun. Ha. Not for fun. It fell. Obviously. Now to stir my morning potion of life. This task was much easier, I thought. I gripped the spoon with my pudgy fingers, placed it into the cup… Now what? My brain could not make sense of the necessary stirring motion needed. I stared at the spoon for a good couple of minutes. Wiggle you big toe. It moved. Blink your eyes. They blinked. Stir the tea… Aaah. Yes. I remember now. Half of the amber potion retreated from the cup due to my unladylike stirring technique. Half a cup is better than none, yes? Now to get it to my mouth… Despite all my efforts, I could not lift the cup to my face. It was heavy. Bulky. Weighted. I had opted to rather bring my mouth to the cup. The tray was thankfully high already so I would just have to arch my back a bit to get to drinking level. Eventually got my lips onto the cup but because half of the tea was on the tray, the cup would need to be arched towards me as well. I did so with my left hand and got the tiniest taste of tea. All of a sudden I was saturated with relief and happiness. Smiling, I tried again. Hungry for comfort. But the tea gods were all but kind to me and the warm beverage fell, once more, to my chest. My skin burned under the heat and I sulked back into my pillowy demise. I stared at the remnants before me. A tea party carnage of clumsy gestures and mistaken distances. I was not to be granted the solace of tea today but I did get a taste. A small taste of something I missed dearly. The tea-lady returns tonight, around 8pm. Then begins my monstrous task of indulgence, once more.