My pain (Breakdown)

With my new location came a new sense of fight within me. I will get out of this bed. I will eat a cheese burger. I will hold my son. I was, however, terrified of sleep. I feared that I would not wake from sleep. A genuine, all-encompassing fear. So I made the simple decision not to sleep. Lunch time had arrived and with it a tray of treats for my indulgence was placed before me. A bowl of transparent, yellow chicken soup, a bit of green jelly, a tub of ice cream and a box of apple juice. My nurse was a pleasant one today. The initial grump who gave me water to drink? It was her. I was grateful. She was patient and understanding. She did not talk much and I was okay with that. She asked me what I would like to eat first and I murmured soup. My voice was returning. The soup smelled divine though it looked like water with a tinge of yellow food colouring. I could smell the salt and feel the heat escape the bowl. I salivated. She carefully brought a spoon up to my mouth and I drank the embracing warm liquid. The aroma told me what it should taste like but my mouth was telling a story far different. Burn. Char. Smoke. That was all I could taste. I cringed my face and she pulled back the spoon of empty promises. My taste buds have not yet woken up.  She suggests ice cream. What could go wrong with ice cream? This also tasted of burn, smoke and char. I ate some of it and the vomit ensued. Apple juice? Will you accept this as an offering, wretched, cursed, deceitful body? More vomit. I feel defeated and hungry. In walks a female doctor. One I have not seen before. She has an assertive demeanor and the nurses clear a path for her. Her phone rings a familiar ringtone. It’s an enchanting melody and I wonder where I have herd it before. Nothing comes to mind. She has a professional disposition as she chats on the phone. A soft, brown leather bag is draped diagonally over her chest. Jeans, boots, cardigan, blonde hair. Practical attire for a lady constantly on her feet. My nurse stands at the edge of my bed, chart in hand, waiting for this doctor to finish her call. She walks over with a smile on her face but hesitation in her eyes. I panic. I want to ask so many questions but one worded replies are my current forte. She says I am looking well, I roll my eyes. She asks if I can move my hands, I try and the left one lifts up a bit. Progress. She asks how the food was going, I cry. She says she will get me a nutritionist but I wonder what help that would do… Everything tastes like cremation. I start to cry uncontrollably. Emotions are difficult to control. My crying turns to painful sobs. I want my mom. I want familiar faces. I want to eat. I want to be a mom. I want to shower. Nothing she says consoles me. The nurse draws the blue curtains around my bed. I am upsetting the other patients. I have made up my mind. I want to go home. None can dissuade me. She says she is going to call my husband but I know he is with the baby. I am a second thought governed by visiting times and bedpans. They leave and I am still crying. It won’t stop. I have had enough. A lady peeps through my curtain prison and rushes over to hug me. I want to push her away but no body part complies. She starts to cry with me and I want to tell her to fuck off. She takes out a photo from her bag. A photo of my son. She puts it on my bed and says that I should look at him. I don’t want to. I can’t. She leaves the photo there and asks me what’s wrong. What a stupid question. I can’t walk. I can’t eat. I can’t talk. I can’t even go to the loo. She says she is going to help me. I don’t believe her. How could she possibly help me? What could she possibly do?

This lady turned out to be an occupational therapist and she would go on to help me more than I could possibly say or give merit to on here. My breakdown was still prevailing. I cried uncontrollably for roughly 3 hours. The whole time catching glimpses of my son’s picture on my bedside. In the mean time, my doctor had called several therapists and specialists to visit me in the course of the day. I was broken. Mentally and physically. She desired to mend me. I did not understand this at the time, but this breakdown was necessary for me to move forward and reclaim humanity.

 

My pain (Maltabella)

My pain (Bringer of water)

My pain (Pin number)

My pain (Masterchef)

My pain (The pipes)

My pain (Welcome)

My pain (Maltabella)

I woke up thirsty and hungry but elated. I have remembered the five digit pin number and the exercise initiated my brain training. I had to train my brain to remember things. To do things. To feel things. I greeted my husband with the largest smile my face could conjure. He laughed and asked what the occasion was. I started to mouth the numbers, my voice was still missing in action, and he sprang to life. He noticed my somewhat cheerful disposition and started to tell me what exactly happened to me. He tells me that I had to be intubated for no oxygen was going to my lungs, they did this via my neck. He also tells me that I have had four blood transfusions and three operations. The c-section to remove the borg had been re-opened. Exploratory surgery had also been done baring an incision from my belly button down to my nether regions. Two drains were inserted into my tummy to remove residual blood and tissue. I longed to inspect my battle scars but movement still failed me. The gravity of it will only set in once I have seen these wounds. A doctor and nurse enters my room speaking generic words of encouragement and well wishes. Let it be. They are making preparations for me to be moved out of my fortress of solitude. I am also to be put  on a liquid diet of cereals, fruit juice, tea and soups. My body shivers with delight and I want to embrace this doctor. Food, glorious food! They all leave and I am left with two black spots, this perverse ensemble of red and pink next to my bed which I still cannot make sense of and thoughts of what my first slurp of food would be like.

I wake up to a nurse fiddling with my machinery. This has become the norm nowadays. She spits some awful religious bullshit at me and attempts to console my clear irritation with a crooked smile. Several other nurses come in and start preparing to have my bed moved to the outer regions of my selected prison. They each have one of the many bags attached to my body in hand. The urine bag makes me cringe as I realise that this lady has to cart my human waste… The second one holds up a bag of dark blood. This liquid is draining from my tummy. The third is a bright red bag of blood; I am mid-transfusion perhaps? Another one? Five transfusions? All of the drips attached to me are on a metal stand of sorts. Murky white – platelets, bright green – nutrients, brownish yellow – medication, transparent ooze – salt water probably… There are many more. I had no clue. All of these bags and machines and needles… Attached to me. We move slowly out of the room and the two black spots fizzle away. I am confused. Were they ever on the wall? I have no time to grasp their relevance. I see… Other patients. They’re old. Wrinkly. Yet they look at me with apologetic eyes. One of my nurses tells me that I have been in here the longest so far. Patients have come and gone, spending a week tops in ICU but yet I remained. I was the illusive young mother in a chamber of isolation. I felt their pity rain down on me and I felt heavy but I was glad for a change of scenery. I was wheeled into my corner and this is where I stayed.

Where is my food? A nurse comes over with a bowl of chocolate Maltabella porridge. It smells… nice and I can’t wait to devour it. If only my hands would move. She starts to feed me. The first spoonful smelled wonderful but tasted like I was eating a rotting, burned down wall of a house from the 1940s. I cringe but she doesn’t notice. She is rambling on about her husband’s new business venture. She shoves another spoonful into my mouth. I barely have time to close my mouth and in comes another spoonful. I cannot stomach the taste of chocolate desolation but I am so hungry. Give me a  chance to swallow, you fucking wench! Another spoonful. Another. I am drowning in malted cereal and my body rejects it. I start to vomit uncontrollably and this lady looks at me with such content that I see the light slipping from my eyes. She sighs angrily at me and leaves for what I assume is paper towels to clean my mess. I am left there in my vomit. Old patients are shuffling past me to go to the loo and they stare at me with pity. To my right is a gent with a broken leg of sorts. He looks at my vomit-ridden face and tries to smile. I close my eyes and start to cry. She is not back yet. There is a remote next to my bed to call for assistance but what fucking point is it if none of my hands or body parts move? My neck is drenched in the partially digested sludge. It seeps down my left shoulder and I watch it trail over to where one of my drips are positioned. A nurse walks past me and shakes her head in anger. I thought she was angry that I had been left in my own filth but instead she yells at me for not appreciating the food. Present me wants to vomit on her but hospital me cried and cried and cried… She was not back yet. Had she forgotten about me? Retreated for a smoke break to escape my uselessness? Somebody help me. I… I can’t clean myself. Somebody…

 

My pain (Bringer of water)

My pain (Pin number)

My pain (Masterchef)

My pain (The pipes)

My pain (Welcome)

My breakfast

What a wonderful, uplifting feeling. You get to your office after a good couple days of public holiday realness and the entire expanse of the working realm reeks of boiled eggs. Marvelous. My esteemed colleague is in the process of stuffing six whole boiled eggs in her face. Remnants of broken shells decorate her already terribly untidy desk and she is devouring said unborn with her mouth wide open. Egg debris spews forth as she turns around to bid me a pleasant morning. Oh, darling. You have already ruined any chance of my morning being remotely pleasant. Now, fellow miscreants of society, I am by no means a food snob. I relish the aroma of freshly made food in all its steamy glory. My breakfasts are hardly of the ordinary kind. You might see me slurping a bowl of stew, munching a slice of pizza or even indulging in my mom’s famous chicken curry for breakfast all before 9am.

I long to take a wetwipe from my handbag of tricks and wipe it across her egg splattered face. As she is sharing anecdotes of the long weekend past, bits of yolk land on my freshly ironed skirt and I want to squeeze the life out of her bulging neck with my camphor cream-fresh fingers. Drastic. But I am a firm believer in morning freshness. All day freshness, for that matter. Refer to my previous post Smell the look.

Tragic is the plight of the thwarted woman bound by societal and workplace pleasantries. I could indulge in a full Natural Born Killers moment and exact my violent revenge… How much we take for granted. We all live this life in bounds instilled on us by… By who exactly? Emotions and actions are always to be in check less we experience the full wrath of the law. But let us leave that anarchic, existential debacle for another time. After I have indulged in my morning food offerings. A cheese burger is on today’s menu. I bid a splendid day to all of you gracing my blog with your inquisitive eyes. May the day bring flowery smells and may your hammer be mighty.

ANARCHY IN THE RSA

My pain (Bringer of water)

The lights buzz to life and I am greeted by two nurses. One smiles at me politely and says I am starting to look pretty. Treacherous liar. The other maintains a serious face and goes about my morning bathing preparations. Clean sheets. Clean body. Clean teeth. Empty stomach. I have never known such hunger and thirst. I’ve eaten a few ice-cubes since waking up three days ago and that was it. Delicious, nutritional ice-cubes. Yum. The chirpy nurse shares a story about her daughter and the other nods in agreement while removing my gown. I dislike both of them equally. The bathing ritual completes and the chirpy one leaves my chamber of solitude. The grumpy one gestures a tooth brush towards me and says she’ll be back shortly. I haven’t brushed my teeth in almost two months. I am… excited as I eagerly await her return. She careful squeezes some of the blue menthol ointment onto my toothbrush and I recognise the scent. He likes this brand of toothpaste and always insists that no other comes close.Over the years I have come to agree with him and start recalling the many battles we have had over the superior toothpaste brand. She gestures for me to bare my teeth and I gladly oblige after four failed attempts. She moves the brush back and forth over my exposed teeth and brings a metal pan up to my chin for me to spit the remains into. I am grateful for this minty reprise but still yearn for water. I am then graced with a cup of water for me to rinse with. I slurp some up, swish it around my mouth then spit it out into the pan. She takes the cup away but my mouth remains open. She looks at me perplexed and sees a tear escape my left eye. Crybaby. She smiles and brings the cup back up to my mouth. Not too much, she says. Your throat is damaged, she reminds me. I drink the water and my body came to life from its parched and melancholic grave. It was delicious and I wanted to embrace her to express my sincere gratitude. I had deemed her the grumpy one but now I could not love this woman any more than I do right now. Bringer of water. Quencher of thirsts. Thank you, from the very top of my withered heart. She gently touched my face and assured me that I will be home with my baby very soon. She, of course, was a big, fat, deceitful liar.

 

My pain (Pin number)

My pain (Masterchef)

My pain (The pipes)

My pain (Welcome)

My pain (Pin number)

The photos of my nieces were still on the wall. They smiled beautifully and it comforted me. So pretty and charming. The picture next to them sent shivers through my pain-riddled body. Red. Pink. A distorted vision of… Of… Is that my son? Why does he look that way? Where is his face? I don’t want to look at it. Why would they put this next to my bed? I can’t make sense of it. Three black spots. One flies away. An insect. A fly. Two black spots. I close my eyes to escape my impending panic attack and several nurses and doctors enter my room. The pipes in my neck and nose are to be removed. Yes? Please? Does this mean I can eat now? So hungry. The morning scramble brings trays of breakfast swishing past my glass encasement. The other patients must be outside of my isolation chamber. They get breakfast. I helplessly cry internally for some sort of sustenance. The doctors are rambling. The nurses nodding in agreement. I am so focused on the food traveling past my window that I don’t even take note of the pipe removal situation. They leave my room and I am left wanting. Food. Water. Conversation. Sunshine. My lips can phrase words now but my voice doesn’t follow the action through. I have a visitor. It’s him with a black shirt this time. He looks good. Long, black hair, pale skin. I muster a smile and his face comes to life. He coos over me and strokes my face. It hurts to the touch and I flinch. So dry. I want to tell him to wipe my face but the audio logs are blank and my lips sound the motions. He doesn’t understand. I mouth it once more and he goes over to the sink in the corner of the room to moisten a paper towel. My solace. He walks to the left side of my bed and starts to caress my face with the water saturated piece of heaven. I close my eyes to fully embrace the affection and bliss. I smile again and his eye starts to twitch. Don’t cry. Leave that to me. I am okay, I want to say. I am better. I have so many questions but I just want to bathe in the current moment. He strokes my swollen hand and starts telling me stories of our cats and new baby. Cats. We have cats. How many? Where do we live? Where is the baby? My mom enters the room and her sentiment floods the environment. She says a prayer in Tamil and starts to sprinkle ashes around my bed. Her tears are flowing while she does so and I mirror her. Awash with joy and love and pain, all at the same time. She looks weathered. Shadowy eyes and sullen face. I have pained her. She is happy to see me awake and smiling. I cry. I cry out of hunger, pain, uselessness and love. They leave and I am left in my confines. Confined to this bed. Confined in this mind. Confined in this pain…

He comes back and his face is a twisted ensemble of love and worry. He tells me that he needs my bank pin number. To pay the rent. My.. pin number? Numbers? My mind is blank. He says that he will point to numbers on his phone and I am to blink when his finger lands on the correct one. How do I tell him that I don’t know what he’s talking about… My.. Pin number? I furiously search my mind but all I can recall are three black spots, needles, pain and hunger… He assures me it’s okay but I know the situation is far from it. My pin number. I need to remember it. What was it? Not a single number came to mind and uselessness sets in once more. He leaves again and I am plagued with memories I can’t remember. I will remember them. I must try harder. Two black spots are dancing in the remainder of my sanity. Taunting me and shadowing my reprise. I will remember. I must remember. A nurse fiddles with my machines and flashes a smile of sorrow at me. I am awash with anger and start to use my working leg to kick the edge of the bed once again. Get away from me. Leave me alone with my forgotten memories. The lights flash. My skin feels like it’s floating off of my body leaving me full of exposed blood, organs and disease. Dropping red spots stain my white sheets and my nose starts to gush out the red elixir of life. The ceiling is topsy turvy, under me now and nega-gravity takes flight. I must remember my pin number. For him. For us. For our family. She holds my contorting body down while another injects something into the drip by my shoulder. I feel the cool potion move its way through my  chest and I want to run once again. Run. Now. Go. Sleep.

My pain (Masterchef)

My pain (The pipes)

My pain (Welcome)

 

My pain (Masterchef)

Where am I? Hospital? I know I came here to have my borgchild… Not the planned date but something went dreadfully wrong. 6 weeks before I planned his arrival. Yes. Where is he? Is he also here? Yes, this is a hospital but where are the other patients? I am in a room. There’s a television above my head. Masterchef. Ha. Comforting. The lights are dimmed down. To my right is large window taking up the entire wall. I look out and see nurses at some sort of station. The fluorescent light makes them gleam neon as they sip their coffee and share life anecdotes. Where is my light? Where is my coffee? Where is my life? The tube in my nose is sickeningly intrusive and I want it out. It feels as though it’s too far up my nostril and panic sets in. I start lifting the bottom half of my left leg to draw some sort of attention to my plight. It actually moves. They sip their coffee. They pair off. Tears stream down my dry cheeks as I try to kick the edge of my bed. I have to get this pipe out. Part of it brushes against the corner of my lip and I try to usher it with my tongue towards my teeth. I will bite this fucker out. I succeed and the tube is between my teeth. With every ounce of my dwindling sanity, I pull the tube out and the ooze creates trails of victory down my neck. I think I smiled. Relief. The wretched machines start to beep and a rickety old nurse rushes into my dark room screaming at me. She is upset. She menacingly shoves the tube back up my nose and I have never felt so helplessly violated in my entire life. She continues to scream at me as I cry and cry and cry… She leaves in a huff. I had no voice. I had no option.
I had no means to defend myself. No weapon. Is this humanity? Alone. Useless. Petrified. Where is the man with the colourful shirt? So alone. Masterchef. Sleep.

Voices. Another language. That’s not English. What is it? I open both of my eyes but can only grasp my surroundings with the left one. The right is in denial and wants to lavish sleep’s embrace. Three black spots. Still on the wall. Can one of you bastard nurses please clean that spot? There’s three of them around my bed. They start removing the sheets and my gown. I am to be bathed. The moving bits of my body are now my eyelids, my lips, my tongue and a little bit of my left leg. Nothing else complies to my need to run. I want to run. I just lie there. They carefully push me over onto my side, mindful not to obstruct the many tubes, pipes and machines attached to my body. This is not my body. I realise this now. I merely live in it. It has abandoned me. Betrayed me. My heavy torso is resting on a needle entry point in my right arm. It hurts so much but I have no voice. There is a warm cloth on my back and it feels divine. Contrasting feelings and I decide to let the warmth take precedence over the prickling pain. The soap smells like home. What is home? Where is home? The nurses are merrily chatting along, bathing my useless body while my mind wonders what my name actually is. Who am I? They complete their task and leave me there. Clean, confounded, catatonic. Masterchef is still playing.

My body was so drenched in pain at this point that sanity was a fleeting, floral memory. On the other end, I was starting to come to my senses. A modicum of emotion was exaggerated by my rebooted brain. I long to properly describe the utter ineptitude of self I felt. Defeat in a fight I did not know I was a part of. This pain, the proof of my existence. This bed, the vessel of my healing. This body, not mine to call my own anymore.

My pain (Welcome)

My pain (The pipes)

 

My pain (The pipes)

… He gently gestured the ice-cube towards my mouth and I longed to ravish it whole. My face, however, had forgotten how to move or respond to my brain’s instruction. I tried to part my lips to make way for the icy comfort but the pain was all encompassing. My jaw would not move. My sentiment ached at my body’s betrayal and I mustered a whimper of help. He broke the ice-cube into tiny pieces and I fell in love with this coloured shirt man. A sliver glided past my cactus lips and my mouth came alive. I choked on the tiniest piece of ice sending the machines around me into a beeping frenzy of coloured lights and running nurses. My consolation prize was revoked and I was once again wanting for something that appeared to be to my detriment. How can I be denied water?

My nose twitched in fury as my verbal prowess failed me. I tried to lift my right hand up to quell the itch and no surprise here, my hands would not move. They were sheathed under a white sheet and he came closer to reveal them. It could not be a more whiter shade of pale. My skin was stretched and swollen. These aren’t my hands… Several needles were in and around my wrist to elbow area on the right side. Drips. My arm was bruised blueish black from the very many blood tests I had to endure. This is not my body… This can’t be my body. I started to realise my surroundings and felt a pipe in my left nostril. I wanted to rip it out. Some sort of ooze was flowing from it down into the back of my mouth. It tasted of helplessness and defeat. The man in the colourful shirt told me that I have pipes in my neck, nose, arms, left shoulder, tummy and intimate lady-bits. I felt none of them. The room collapsed on me and I saw three black spots. Closer. They were approaching me. Their shape had changed. They were now obtuse. Distorted blobs of contempt and ridicule. The ceiling was mere centimeters from my face and my body started to shake. My tongue started to slide down my throat. My eyes saw sparks of feverish light and the stench of detergent was soaking into my parched skin. Three black spots. An ugly nurse. A needle. Confused faces. Sleep.

Thank you for reading part 2. Words imitate action and I feel each and every one of these pain-invoking pipes as I type this. Alas, it is a feeling I shan’t soon forget. While I try to maintain a constant level of articulation in my prose, it is of course easier said than done when emotion from memory takes flight into the great mental abyss. Am trying to convey the erratic state of my mind as well. These pipes are my fortitude. This distorted reality MY reality. This body still for rent.

 

My pain (Welcome)