The day before my 20th birthday. I’d been in the critical care unit for about a week. In resus all those days before, I’d thought I was going to die (a month before I’d been told that I wouldn’t survive that situation again, and here it was). I hadn’t even the energy to breathe in the end. I’d woken up to be told that they’d tried to get me off the 6-7 IVs I was attached to, and that my body had essentially thrown itself off a cliff again. My consultant in that hospital had been round to see me. He wasn’t willing to try anything different (yeah, that one. The one who last week realised how stupid that was and now thinks I am worth some sort of attempt to save my life, via ‘drastic’ solutions) and had predicted that another brush with the grim reaper was coming. My heart sank when he left, because I knew he was just leaving me until this happened again, until the time where some miracle didn’t occur and all of the worst fears/ expectations that had been planted in my head by various doctors, became a reality. When this had happened the time before (a month ago) I had been told,
“I don’t know how you made it through this time, but you aren’t going to survive this again. Most people would have lost this fight a while ago. Your body can’t deal with it. You need to ask your consultant to help you, this isn’t good enough, it’s appalling and if he leaves you, you are going to leave all of us very soon. Fight him, if you have to.” But he was stronger than me. He didn’t seem to think there was any point in trying to change the future. He had left me for it to happen again, and it had. And now, because he still wouldn’t try, it was going to again.
“I don’t think you understand how serious this was, IS. Is he doing anything? No?” A flash of frustration flitted across the doctor’s face as I shook my head, “We cannot keep picking up the pieces of his ignorance. You can’t keep ending up in intensive care, this isn’t a life, this isn’t something you will keep surviving you little superhuman, I’m astounded that you already have. Your poor body… You poor thing… I’m so… Sorry.” He relaxed clenched fists and rested a hand on my shoulder. I was, in his eyes, simply waiting for the end. All because the person who could change the outcome didn’t see any point in trying harder to do so. I was not worth trying for in the eyes of somebody paid to try. That made me feel less than worthless.
I looked at the arterial line in my right arm, and decided that was a quick and relatively painless way to allow myself to bleed to death. The hopelessness was crippling. I was tired of waiting, scared of the thoughts it gave me time to think, the future it gave me time to mourn. But uni dad gave the impression that he cared and I had to cut him loose before I could bring myself to do it. I tried to. He wouldn’t budge. He wouldn’t stop caring and he guilt tripped me out of it, for which I temporarily but completely hated him (and later felt an overwhelming gratitude towards him for).
In less than 12 hours, I would have made it to an age we didn’t think I would. I had only got to my feet the day before, and was still trying to figure out the art of walking. I was also due to be going to see The 1975 in concert that night with future flatmate.
I managed to persuade the doctors not to move me to a ward (I didn’t want to be in hospital for my birthday), and at about 8:30pm, I left not only the critical care unit, but the entire hospital (the doctor seemed to look like he regretted his decision when I zig-zagged into a wall and my feet decided to function seemingly independently of my brain). Shakily (and in the pouring rain) I walked to the bus stop in front of the HUGE blue building I had almost died in, and went back to campus to put on normal human clothes. Under an hour later, I was in Brixton. We walked into the venue just as The 1975 came on stage. The music was all I could hear. There were no seats left, so I held myself up by leaning against a wall, and the whole time I just smiled as wave after wave of… Relief. Washed over me.
It was all worth it for this. I made it to 20! They told me I wouldn’t and I am actually going to make it to 20! I was on a critical care unit less than two hours ago, they told me not to do anything stupid and not to come here – this is very stupid, but doing the wrong thing feels electrifying and I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I’m alive… How am I alive? I shouldn’t be alive. They told me I shouldn’t be alive… And yet… I am very much alive. I’m in heaven. This has to be heaven. This music, this atmosphere… It’s just… I can’t even… Heaven. Was pretty much what I thought over and over as songs I knew and songs that were on their upcoming album drifted into my ears.
I cannot describe the feeling of pure joy. Everything that moment represented, suddenly back in the real world, free (still have no idea how I managed to actually walk, but that was also a major achievement). What a way to celebrate being alive, what a way to celebrate leaving hospital, what a way to celebrate beating death and defying overwhelming odds again. It was all ok. It was all going to be ok. I forgot everything. I forgot to be worried about how uni would react if they found out, I forgot to be worried about how long I might have left before death called my card again, I forgot the effect I was having on everyone who even slightly cared about me… I was just me. I lost myself in the music and the lights and I. Was just. Me.
Future flatmate and I got to halls a minute or so before midnight. We just about made it into my flat; I stood there with The 1975 playing through a single headphone and nearly cried as she wished me happy birthday. It was a day that a month before I never thought I would see. It meant more to me than any other day ever has. I had proved everyone wrong (apart from uni dad, who all along told me that the situation was utterly crap, and nothing else mattered now, but that I should wait until my birthday because he was confident I would make it). I fell asleep to the sound of The 1975. I let a couple of other bands join the celebratory playlist. I woke up and opened a card or two to the sound of the 1975 in this bubble of wonder and disbelief. I went to my tutorial the next morning wearing the band t-shirt I had bought the night before.
Their music chills me out, it makes me want to dance, and now, it means that everything is ok. It is my you beat the odds music, my they were wrong music, my the world can just get lost because you are a little bit superhuman and you will get through this music… My you are alive music. And not just existing, properly alive.
They said I wouldn’t make it, but here I am months and many brushes with death later!
(I am sorry for the five posts in one day. This was a series of posts about music important to me, and I was too impatient not to publish them all a few hours apart. It isn’t usual for me, and I hope it won’t happen again! It was important to share the music that got me through, and actually kind of fun. I haven’t said anything about Pink Floyd etc. But this is quite enough for one day. And I am confident that I will have many more!)