Well I did come around…
It’s all a little hazy but I’ll do my best to recount what happened.
I can remember lying in the post-operation ward, straight after my operations and feeling sleepy, shattered and light-headed. And dead thirsty.
As I gained further consciousness, I was informed that the operations had all gone well. Importantly, the four lymph nodes that were extracted looked ‘normal’, which is a good omen apparently.
Finger Missing Woes
As I felt a little better, I performed a quick check to see if all of my body parts were all still there – and they were. I could feel two huge plasters as well. One under my armpit and the other covering my elbow.
Then I took a look at my left hand. And on the end of my middle finger is a MASSIVE bandage, stained black. It’s so numb that it felt no different to before the operation. But I know it is… forever. I feel sad at my loss, but in a peculiarly disembodied way.
Next, I’m wheeled on my trolley to the recovery ward for observation and an overnight stay. I was with five other middle-aged men.
My partner and daughter came to visit with some food and were pleasantly surprised at ‘how well I looked’.
And then I must have drifted off the sleep…
Broken Teeth, Smashed Man
I woke up really early and desperately needed a number 2.
I can remember walking slowly over to the, frankly disgusting, toilet and sitting down to do my business. I was alone.
And then disaster struck. BIG TIME.
I woke up on the floor after God knows how long, lying in a pool of blood and teeth fragments. Seems I must have passed out and fallen off the toilet face first into the floor. Probably due to the anaesthetic still being active.
My face was now bruised and swollen and smeared with dried blood. The broken teeth bits were actually bits of the crowns of my two front teeth (the result of an accident when I was 10 years old). I soon realised that I couldn’t speak properly as my two front teeth have been pushed back into my mouth by the impact with the floor. The toilet bowl is full of dark green poo and there’s some green poo across my bum and the top of my legs. Dazed, I clean myself up and stagger back to my bed.
Remember my thinking that I’m cursed…
Down & Definitely Out
The overworked nurse clocks what’s happened and is with me in an instance. He logs the incident and cleans me up a bit, but he’s soon called away.
I’ve finally LOST it.
I’m in tears. I’ve had enough of the procession of fucking crap that always seems to befall me.
I can distinctly recall watching the sun come up as I lay next to the window. And as the light dappled the clouds – really quite beautiful – I thought to myself that now would be an OK time to die. It just popped into my head. Worse, part of my really wanted it. I was nearly 50 years old and I’d had enough of life.
I was in a mess, broken, in pieces. Smashed and shattered. A lesser man.
Strangely, through the tears, the thought of death left me with an inner calm. An almost tranquil quality. I wasn’t afraid at all, that’s for sure.
I called my sister who was at work and my partner. Can’t really remember what I said but my brother, partner and daughter all seem to magically appear. Then doctors, family, friends, nurses, consultants, everyone and anyone it seemed, surrounded my bed. My teeth could be fixed: they can do amazing things nowadays. Look, you have this, you have that. I’d be OK.
I even spoke to an in-hospital mental health counsellor. Nice guy who definitely had a thing for Jamie Dornan’s serial killer in BBC’s The Fall as he had the close-cropped beard and the dress sense. He listened calmly as I recounted my litany of disaster following disaster. And how few of them were ever truly resolved, lingering on and on. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were punctuated by something good, a little bit of good luck once in a while. He agreed that it was a huge burden for one person to carry and offered me some further counselling. He left me a card and said he’d call me to arrange an appointment.
The consultant then checked my wounds and said I could go home if I wanted to or I could stay another night in hospital. You can guess which option I went for.
Soon I was in a wheelchair being pushed past wards and white walls and strip lights. Then I feel fresh, cold air on my face and I’m in my brother’s car on the way home, lost in my exhausted, suicidal trance.
I can remember voices saying ‘things couldn’t get any worse’. Well, for me they usually do…
That’s the problem.