fragments from a hospital #1
We're in a pale yellow room with my favourite doctor - he who looks like Jeremy Paxman. I like them both. I'm so very tired and exhausted from being ill for a long time. I've very little energy left to fight with. I can't stop crying in that pale yellow room. You hold my hand and I feel the doctor's empathetic eyes on me. Only tears and despair fill me. It's the same doctor, who talked about an operation almost a year ago now. About how it could improve my life quality and how we don't really need a colon anyway. I wasn't there yet. Far from it. What he's suggesting felt like giving up and I wasn't ready for it. Then. This time there's almost nothing left of me, at least of all resistance. We agree he'll contact the surgeon. We meet the surgeon. You are with me - holding my hand, loving me. I'm all dressed in grey. I'm feeling grey. I'm lying in a hospital bed unable to have a conversation, tears are all I have to offer. We agree on surgery. With no delay. I'm with the stoma nurse in a tiny examination room on the twelfth floor. She's young and attractive and able to show a vast amount of empathy through this surreal time. We're to decide where to place my stoma. I'm bewildred. How the hell do you do that and keep sane? With her steady hand, I leave the room with a big black spot on the right side of my stomach and a sense of loss. I'm in some kind of shock and I concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.
The night before surgery I'm meant to be taking an enema. I'm scared and I can't do it because it's too painful nowadays. The nurse insists behind those blue curtains, while I'm crying and saying no over and over again. She finally gives up and leaves me to my crying. The woman opposite my bed comforts me - a total stranger guides me through the path of nails I'm walking on that night. It will happen again. I'm in the tiny preparation room, staring at the doors facing the theatre. I'm scared, so very scared. I'm in a hospital gown and an ugly light blue plastic hat. I'm wondering what kind of carnage is going on inside those doors, what kind of carnage that will go on once I'm on the other side of those doors. I don't say anything. The loveliest of anesthesiologists is there to sedate me. I'm holding on to his friendly eyes and he soothes me with his soft voice. I'm being asked to count to ten, but after one I'm out. I remember waking up in recovery, being extremely nauseous, throwing up in a grey paper bowl, filling it and being brought another one. I remember being moved to the ward on the eleventh floor. I remember being confused and scared. I remember opening my eyes and seeing you sitting next to the bed on the right-hand side next to the window, smiling carefully. You must've been really scared too. I remember thinking, this is what love feels like. I remember the relief of feeling safe again.
They're standing at the edge of my bed - the whole surgery harem. They're all looking at me and I feel intimidated. I'm not saying much. I'm trying to smile because it feels like I should. It feels rude, all the staring. Some manage to make eye-contact and smile friendly, which comforts me. On the third day the epidural falls out of my back and I experience the most gruesome pain. I'm moaning like an animal. Quietly. The pain is too intense to be able to scream. I persevere until I'm put on a PCA, a patient-controlled analgesia. Once again the woman in the opposite bed takes me through it. She amazes me.
I'm being moved to my own room. I remember you bringing me soup and juices. I'm feeling thankful beyond any limits and I have no idea how to say it. I'm struggling with not being able to be independent and having to be taken care of. It's not how I see myself, it's not who I am. I guess no one wants that. It's the weekend and there are no stoma nurses to change my bag. I force myself to do it. I remember it being disgusting and impossible to look at. I remember the relief of coming home to you. To our Christmas tree and to your cooking and you being next to me through all the craziness. I remember the late night walks I took around the block and the feeling of things slowly falling in place again. I remember us playing Trivial Pursuit and laughing together.