The past can destroy the future in ways that we don’t really understand. The seeds planted in our minds by events that we live through can shatter our souls with the roots they spread as they grow, wrap around us, entangle us, enslave us… I guess I’m in the grip of such a plant. It took the edge off of a great day, and it is probably about to make me sound super ungrateful for the fact that I’m alive and where I am right now.
I was pretty much left alone all day. I went from having my blood checked hourly to not at all. I was eventually disconnected from all IVs, and in the evening my femoral line was removed without my bloods having been re-checked first to see what had gone on during the day. Slightly concerning, but I didn’t care. I just wanted out. I just. Wanted. Out. I’d got myself into the sort of situation where my mind was in such a mess that I couldn’t even imagine how things would ever be normal again. I couldn’t believe that the flashbacks would stop being so frequent, that I would ever feel anything other than the fear, that the memories would never stop being triggered. I was sat there freaking out more and more, on the verge of tears, when something made me message My Fellow Third Wheel. He said I could call him, and after being on the phone for a few minutes everything felt ok. We talked for an hour and a half, I sent him a load of puppy pictures, and we discussed his new job and stuff. I’ve learned a lot about the power of friends lately, but that’s for another post.
I was slightly concerned at the lack of any heart tablets I’ve had over the past few days, and had started to experience a very odd sensation which would involve me falling into an involuntary sleep. I kept getting brief episodes of palpitations, but I was too scared to mention it and also… Didn’t care. Fear warps things. I just wanted to do whatever I had to do to go home. And that meant staying quiet, injecting a heck of a lot more medication when nobody was about, and hoping that they thought everything was fine. I kept experiencing waves of dizziness accompanied by the weirdness, and walking to the bathroom was wiping me out. I noticed that the skin around my lower legs was starting to feel tight- hello oedema.
My old sixth form friend turned up with chips in the evening just as my femoral line was being removed. I laid and ate chips as I waited to be allowed to leave. My nurse told me not to tell her when I’d left, just to wait around for 20 minutes and then clear off more or less. I wanted out. I felt like dirt. I burrowed deeper into the awful feeling that surrounded me.
So, less than 24 hours after I’d been a catheterised, unable to walk, attached to multiple IVs via multiple lines kinda human being dependent on drugs and machines for my survival, I found myself wearing WR Uni Friend’s jogging bottoms, wrapped in a hospital blanket in the pouring rain, waiting for a bus in Whitechapel at the bus stop I stood at the day before my 20th birthday.
The friend I call “Batman” was still with me, Bastille was playing through one headphone, and nobody on the bus gave me a seat – and it was so amazing to blend in and be ignored and be treated like everyone else. I felt like I was going to pass out. I messaged the group chat that I’d set up between a few uni friends (more on the significance of this in another post too) and asked if any of them minded sitting with me so that I wouldn’t be alone, just in case my body lost consciousness as I genuinely felt it might.
Uni Babe left wherever she was immediately and stood outside my building waiting in the rain for my arrival. Portsmouth Uni Friend joined us later with a panini she’d just bought, and they both sat with me for ages. After what must have been well over an hour, Portsmouth Uni Friend had to leave, and I was inspired to replicate her panini purchase, so after I struggled to lift my own bodyweight out of the chair, Uni Babe and I slowly walked along to Costa (first time I’ve been in the one near uni) to satisfy my craving (and yes, I was still wrapped in a hospital blanket) while I downloaded a genius app (which ties in with the whole friend thing I’m going to post about).
They had Christmas cups already. I remember this time last year sitting in the hospital cafe (which is part of the same chain) with Italian Uni Friend and Portsmouth Uni Friend almost a year ago to the date, and the barista giving me one of every single paper cup design because I mentioned that they were pretty awesome.
We returned to my accommodation and my stomach DROPPED when I saw this
An ambulance had been called for someone in my accommodation (the fresher who was having a worst first year than me when she sat with Uni Pal and I the other day and poured her heart out at us). Uni Babe was awesome about it. I freaked a little purely at its presence. I couldn’t deal with it (I mean there is an ambulance station behind my building so the sight of an ambulance is not uncommon, but right then for some reason my reaction was pathetic). I got so angry, so angry at my mind for being so stupid and illogical in response to the sight of an ambulance, for being shaken and scared and triggering an adrenaline rush and shaking just at the sight of a vehicle. It was looking backwards again and I was trying so hard to move forwards. Uni Babe understands more than a lot of people do. She didn’t judge, she actually helped a little. But I felt insane. I feel insane.
“Oh my my my my
Now I can almost taste it, taste it
But why, just ’cause we’re a little older
Do I relive it, relive it all?
Oh, I’m pedalling backwards
Even if I’m pedalling alone
Can’t help it
I relive it, I relive it all
It’s 4am here comes the fear
I’m not prepared yet
I let myself bathe in the past for way, way, way too long” – Bastille, Winter Of Our Youth
I feel suffocated by this fear and these traumas that I cannot stop reliving, and I’d do anything, anything to escape it. In that minute I considered running out into the traffic, just to get rid of the monster in my head, just to take away the stupid, stupid part of me that isn’t me that reigns supreme and will not leave. I am already living under the cloud of dread because I know I have to go back, and I know that I’m still playing Russian Roulette (their words not mine), and honestly right now I’m a little emotionally exhausted at just keep almost dying over and over and over. It’s so emotionally draining. So. Draining.
After an initial reluctance, my mum picked me up after work. I returned to Kent. My dog was thrilled to see me. My little brother and nephew were apathetic. They didn’t even know I’d been in hospital. Most people don’t. Normality resumes now. It has to. That’s just the way life is. I am riding a high at my freedom, and everything feels surreal and great and I feel invincible and untouchable and so relieved. In a few days, the Grim Reaper’s near win will sink in. Reality will hit me like a train and I will be left… Dead inside, I guess. Shaken. Wounded. Broken. Reeling. I know this because I know myself and I’ve been here before. I know this because I’m already using university work to plug a wound that is eventually going to bleed out and leave me empty. It’s what I did all of last year.
“Snakes are biting at my heels
The worries that refuse to let us go
I’ve been kicking them away,
Been hoping not to let them take control
Ooh I’m not ready,
Drink to escape their bites
Show me distraction
Even for just one night
‘Cause it’s easier to bury
My head in the sand sometimes
Yes, it’s easier to bury
My head in the sand sometimes
And I know, I know, I know
It’s not the right way to go
But I pray for the ground to swallow me whole
‘Cause I know, ’cause I know, ’cause I know life is simple when
I can just ignore it all
If I’m not ready
Snakes will consume me whole
But it’s easier to bury my head in the sand sometimes
[…]” – Bastille, Snakes
No way but through.