Friday 14 February 2014
Undone by two mint plants.
Lying in bed today it seems farcical. Farcical and somehow totally appropriate. I looked at them tonight in their shiny metal pot. So unassuming. I ran my hand through the chocolate mint and it's bully boy cousin, the common mint. Inhaling their scent from my fingers. I breathed in deep, sucking in each and every last molecule of scent. They owe me that. Taken down by two herbaceous hit men, that I dared to re-plant. I'd laugh if the consequences hadn't been so unpleasant.
After fighting so hard all weekend it seems so anti-climactic that this was the left hook that lay me on the hallway tiles. I'd fought rounds with pain, with my blood pressure, with my dehydration. Each time the bell would ring I'd get back up on my feet and stagger back to the centre of the ring for my next beating.
I told myself I was winning. I had it in hand. There was a pattern to the punches. I'd fought my opponents before. I knew all their tricks. I saw the dip of the shoulder before the punch, the planting of the feet before the upper cut came my way. I ducked and weaved like the best of them. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I had them on the ropes.
Then I dared to replant two small green plants.
And I didn't even see it coming.
As I slid elegantly down the wall in the hallway and called for help, I knew I'd lost. I felt it in my bones. In my skin and the hair on my head. From my toenails to my eyelashes, the bitter taste of defeat. It sprang from my pours and filled the room. The tears that spring reflexively when you know that you've lost.
Loser. Failure. Loser. Failure. LoSER. FAILURE.
The words get louder with each passing second. I list off my failings one by one. I beat myself up for not being able to manage better. There MUST have been something I could have done. Something which would have won the round. Something I should have known. Something I should have done. Something....
The trip to the ER seems to take forever. Purgatory. I begin to doubt myself. Maybe I don't need to go. Maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe I just need to lie down for a while. Drink some more water. Take some more pills. Maybe I should say, "Turn around. Lets go home. Only the sick people go to the ER." If only I could form the words. Denial and doubt are belied by my blue lips and slurred words. By my inability to lift my head or walk. But those internal demons, born from a childhood where illness and needing help were a weakness, whisper their vindictive words. They beat me up as badly as my body. Worse. They know the sweet spots, the secret places that hurt the most. Harden up. Hypochondriac. Suck it up. Push through it. You're so weak.
Part of me baulks even as the automatic doors open up at the entrance to the hospital. Part of me expects the triage nurse to tell me to go home. That I am wasting her time. That there are real sick people who need help. But she's kind and concerned. She takes my vitals and listens to my story. She tells me it must be horrible to live like this. That the doctors will sort me out. She gives me the code words that'll break through the barrier that exist between doctor and patient. She tells me not to worry. That it'll be okay.
I sit in the waiting room, floating in and out as I lay my head on my knees. Scraps of conversation. A prisoner, an assault, a guard in for testing. The boy who's stepped on the nail. The boy who keeps kicking the wall as his mother repeatedly asks him to stop. The beep of the door each time it opens. The woman at the desk apologising at the wait. Car crashes, cardiac arrests. Real sickness. Real emergencies. It'll be soon. Maybe we should just go home.
Then the doctor is there and we gain entry to the other side. Faces. Faces filled with pain, uncertainty, confusion. We pass them one after the other. The burly guards standing just inside with the prisoner handcuffed to the bed. The lights so sharp. The stiff white sheets of the bed. Relief as I can finally lie down. Sleep. I just want sleep. I could sleep for an eternity. Questions. What's wrong? What are you concerned about? What have you eaten? The code words fail. My list of medications and diagnoses fail. And the finger sensor beeps again and again as my bloodless fingers fail to register. My blood wont flow for testing. But the questions continue. How do you spend your day? You have what?
A blur of slurred words and half-formed sentences. So hard to think. So hard to concentrate. A hand holding mine. An intake of breath from the hand holder as he tries to explain once more that all I need is fluids. Finally the miracle, a second doctor and an acknowledgement that I know more about my conditions than they do, and the needle is finally inserted. A rebirth after the IV starts to re-inflate my empty veins.
Blue on my lips and blackened eyes remain, but the clarity returns. Snippets of conversation filter through the curtains. The old man and his wife. His third stroke. They know their way around. The woman back from an overseas trip with a weird viral infection. The horrible crashing sounds as the man across from me seizures. Staff running. Codes called.The girl with the broken shoulder, bent over in pain.
Do I belong? The girl who fell down because she potted two plants.
We come to an agreement. I don't need to be admitted. Flooding relief. That there is nothing more that they can do for me. I am released. A buffer in my veins. Extra padding to make it through the next few days where I can practice my left hooks and upper cuts once more.
I roll out past the broken and the scared. Faces peering at me over blankets. I wish I could take them with me. A mass escape from flashing lights and beeping machines. An escape from pain and fear and uncertainty. Relief as the door comes into sight. Freedom.
Rolling through the carpark. It's only inhabitants in the wee hours of the morning. The silence is only broken by the heavy breathing of the weary and the crunch of my wheels on the gravel. I can speak. I can sit up. I am nolonger blue. But I am still broken.
As we drive home I still don't know if I should have gone. Maybe I could have managed at home? Maybe the fluids would have eventually stayed in? Maybe I could have taken an extra pill? Maybe I could have allowed my hand holder to sleep. Maybe....
This evening I sat out in my backyard and surveyed my small world. Those deceptively dangerous mint plants are thriving. Mocking me with their runners and verdant green foliage. The other pots sit there waiting. Daring me to come on over and plant them.
I have slept the world away today. Waking only to drink and have tablets. Storing up strength. But fresh air is tempting. The sky needs to be seen. The grass needs to be felt.
As I sit in my chair I start to feel dizzy. I look down at my feet and their bright blue, bloodless, toes. I see the blue tinge head up my to my ankles and take a deep breath. If I don't look in the mirror I wont see the blue start around my lips. It's not that bad. If I lie down I'll be fine. I stand slowly and walk cautiously across the lawn. Heading for bed again. I'll win this round.
And this time I wont be undone by a herbaceous heavy-weight champion again.