Stumble And Fall
I have an appointment for a CT scan at a hospital in London called The Lister. Dragging myself out of bed, I turn the shower on and lean against the wall as the water gushes down. Mentally, I prepare for the effort I will have to put in. I’m stubbornly – or stupidly – independent and decide to go alone to Sloane Square tube station. I get on the train and sit on a seat straight away. But I am exhausted and feel sick.
I have to get to the hospital on time and never factored into the journey any breaks. When the train stops at each station, I hold my mouth and try not to vomit. Further into the journey, I close my eyes and hold my head in my hands. People are staring at me, I can feel it. Obviously, no one will help. This is the underground in London, after all. I concentrate, stem the sickness and keep going. It is the most difficult journey of my life. When the train pulls into Sloane Square, I get off and stay at the station taking deep breaths until I feel able to move.
I begin the long walk along Chelsea Bridge Road toward the Thames and hospital. As I find getting up and walking twenty feet to the toilet or shower at home too much, this walk of about half a mile drains me. I vomit twice on the way. A well dressed man and woman walking a tiny dog on a lead stare at me. I stumble and fall on the pavement. They give me a wide berth and hurry away. On my hands and knees, I retch and cough. Wiping the spit from my face, I catch my breath, get back up and walk on.
Eventually, I get to the hospital and wait for the administration to be completed. After half an hour, I’m called to a consulting room where a nurse puts a cannula in my left wrist and injects me with a special dye, which is a contrast agent. This scan takes images of all the tissues in my body and lasts about fifteen minutes. Whilst I remember every step of the awful walk to the hospital, my mind has shut out the journey home. I must have gone into autopilot. As with many things just now, my memory has just been wiped.
Within a few weeks, the nausea and vomiting lessens. I still feel almost permanently ill but there are some periods when I don’t feel sick. It is during the intervals of respite from nausea that I’m lying in bed and become certain of one thing. I have to get myself out of this situation. Apart from the major excursions of hauling myself into hospital, I only manage to get up for brief periods. Even then, I always return immediately to bed to rest up as I feel sick.
Then, one morning, I decide to change things. I get up, go to the toilet, have a shower and actually get dressed. It may not seem much but, at this stage in my life, it is huge. I walk downstairs to see Michelle and feel light-headed. I manage to stay up for an hour before returning to bed. I’m sweating and am a mess, but I have something left. I am on my knees here but, in the face of almost no chance of making it through, I have to at least try. Staying up that day was a big moment for me. It triggered a new beginning. I get up each morning afterwards and try to remain up for as long as I can. Gradually, I reach a point where I spend more time out of bed during the day than in it.
I am fighting for my life here. And I’m going to win.