Comfort of… Bastille?

“As the world falls down around us

Give me something to remember

I am holding on

In the back of my mind

For dear life, dear life

Holding on

In the back of my mind

For dear life, dear life

Oh I, Oh I

I am holding on for dear life

Oh I, Oh I

I am holding on for dear life”

Bastille, Comfort of Strangers

Words fail me a little bit at this current moment. When I heard those song lyrics, I stopped dead. Everything melted away, and my brain curled up in those words like a comfort blanket. I had been fracturing, bursting at the seams, suppressing emotion that I couldn’t allow myself to feel but was most definitely there. I was torn. I was on the edge of letting it all go, of falling apart. And then I got a message from a friend asking if I’d heard Bastille’s new song. Immediately, I almost laughed out loud. Whenever I hit a tough time or get bad news or something, Bastille (the band whose music ended my emotional isolation in the back of an ambulance when I was… 16? if intrigued, see this post) seem to drop a new song or a new album.

I searched it online. Hit play. Listened until the chorus played, and this song just… took me. A total calm rose up and engulfed me and had I been alone, I may actually have shouted YES at the top of my voice. It was the same feeling I got when I heard Pompeii for the first time in the back of an ambulance, when I heard Good Grief for the first time as I walked out of a hospital ward after almost dying and being told that waking up everyday was pretty much like playing Russian Roulette… the same as I felt when they dropped a new album a day or two after I’d had surgery and was laying in bed writhing in pain until that haunting voice played  through my headphones and removed me from the world for the entire length of time it took to listen to all those songs.

I’m pretty sure this latest song is written about being in a relationship with another human (I may be way off there), which I most definitely was not, but the beauty about all forms of art is that people are free to interpret that art in any way they want. I have no doubt that this song said something to me that it was never intended to say when it was written. But it sort of woke me up to myself, it gave my brain an ally, it gave me words I could twist and put to something I couldn’t verbalise or even accept before. It was like a “Eureka” moment… It brought all the guards in my brain down and finally let me admit that I am not ok with how things went, I am not “not feeling” all the things I think I should, I had simply, as my counsellor noticed I do often, dissociated myself from the things that hurt too much to go near.

On the surface yes, I can ignore how I feel, I can tell myself I’m not disappointed yet, I can try to ignore the fact that three (wait, how many days ago was Wednesday?) days ago I had heart surgery (and not only did it not work, but I somehow feel worse, and the second part that needs remodelling if we have to attempt again was too close to my phrenic nerve so… asdfghjkl… and I have no idea what to do or where to go and it changes all of my imagined plans because is this all I am now? A tachycardic, fluid retaining, coughing, breathless, swollen, oedematous mess?) but in the back of my mind I am in the middle of a storm, clinging to this tiny shred of something that remains. Hope? Maybe. And I am being battered by emotions (not only from the past few days, not only from my health. There’s a lot hanging around and churning around back there), torn apart, ripped apart, withering, worn out, exhausted, beaten, probably ready to throw in the towel and walk to the Grim Reaper with open arms. In the back of my mind, in the part I ignore, there is a battle, and I am holding on for dear life. Paralysed by it all, completely lost, completely terrified, and just clinging to anything. That anything, right now, is this teeny, tiny hope that there is something that can still be done. And I didn’t realise that, couldn’t accept that, couldn’t work out why I wasn’t entirely happy and felt tense and bothered (or even admit that I was any of those things)… until I heard those lyrics and my great big deluded, ignorant conscious mind turned around and went, “oh yeah.”

And then… click. I am disappointed. I am falling apart. I’m devastated. I’m terrified. I’m wondering if I will ever be able to have a job, what will happen about the final year of my degree. Will I ever be able to go for a walk again? In the back of my mind I am still feeling all of the things I refuse to let myself acknowledge, and they have been burning slowly, like a fire. Those flames have silently eaten away at all the foundations that held me up. And the thing is, before I can rebuild, I need to crumble. Just demolish the wreck that is left and build something new to take its place, before the rot spreads. That’s kind of how I work. But I’m really great at pretending to everyone, including myself, that I am fine.

And then along comes a song, written by people who I never have or will meet, about a situation I probably can’t relate to at all… And it says all that needs to be said. Enough for me to stop hiding from myself, to let down the barriers, to accept what I am trying to shield myself from and have in doing so let silently destroy me. Weird. Awesome… Bastille.

Medicine saved my body. Music saves my soul. In ways that nobody and nothing else can. (Hey, it moved me enough to post twice in a few hours rather than twice in one month). It kind of brought me… Home.

I was so lost, and I didn’t even know where to turn or what to do or how I felt or what to reach out for, I was just crumbling and trying to pretend I wasn’t. And a song I’d never heard before just shut me down. Totally. Shut all of that. Down. No idea how long for.

This is why I never go anywhere without headphones.



Back At It Again…

The night of the 8th of September. I was laying in bed, pleading with the minutes to pass so that I could take some more medication and attempt to reduce the pain that was keeping  me awake. I got to a stage where I almost didn’t know what to do. I held where it hurt, curled up in a ball, and soon found myself unable to stay still. I had one of those moments where you can’t imagine how pain like that will ever get better, how it will ever go away. I tried to remember what it was like not to hurt, and how it was possible to hurt so much so relentlessly (oh right – because my nerves and blood vessels and a couple other structures had been traumatised by a surgical team).

I have previously mentioned my love of Bastille’s music and the things it has come to mean to me. I discovered their music in the back of an ambulance during the worst night of my teenaged years (well, at the time it occurred it was the toughest I’d faced emotionally up until that point). I leant on their music from that moment onwards, playing it over and over through headphones as I laid in various hospital rooms and wards wondering if I’d ever be free to go back out into any sort of a normal life again; a week before I turned 18, I celebrated getting through it all by seeing Bastille live, and watching them perform the songs that had become as familiar to my eardrums as the heartbeat that fuelled the body they belonged to. When I was in hospital (had just nearly died, and knew I was being let out to imminently end up in the same situation again earlier this summer – just before, a week later, I very, very nearly died while on holiday with my friends) right as I was about to crumble under the futility of carrying on, Good Grief (at the time their newest single) began to play over the ward radio. I heard it for the first time as I walked out of that place, carrying battle scars that nobody could see, and I stopped in the corridor and smiled, wearing a strange relief in place of the tears that had been preparing to storm my cheeks.

When I was in intensive care in Norfolk, and my PTSD was being triggered by the sounds and smells of the hospital environment, leading to terrifying nightmares and flashbacks… An ex-army nurse told me to listen to music. The first proper night of sleep that I got in that/ any hospital (other than when I was unconscious or seriously seriously ill) was thanks to the music of Bastille. When nightmares pulled me away from sleep, I woke to the sound of familiarity playing over fresh terror, and immediately knew things were ok, that I wasn’t where my brain had thought it was. I lost myself in the comfort of those songs instead of drowning in the fear. For the first time, I went right back off to sleep. The panic was calmed almost instantly.

When I sat in Winston the wheelchair outside the exam room earlier this summer, stranded until my friend appeared, and convinced that I’d epically failed my exams, the same old songs provided a welcome distraction. A few weeks ago, when I found out that my consultant wants me to go through hell on earth for one health hiccup (STILL can’t talk about that one, sorry), Bastille (Bad News – an awesomely appropriate song which among others) played in the background as I cried my way through London.

And then, in the first minutes of the 9th of September, it happened again – music (specifically that of Bastille) made things manageable. It comforted me when there wasn’t much else that could.

I laid there, a little dopey from the medication that wasn’t working enough to take away the pain, and then I remembered that the great thing about the 8th of September was that it was going to become the 9th of September. And that meant the release of Bastille’s new album. A few minutes later, midnight happened. I was in a really weird place where the pain was bothering my dopey mind so much that I didn’t know how to relax, which meant that the pain stayed pretty ridiculous, and I stood even less chance of getting to sleep. I was by this point rocking. Just laying there rocking. And then, at 2 minutes past midnight, I hit play (the wifi took a while to decide to work). And the recognisable and distinctive sound of the band who seem to release new music at particularly crappy points in my life (usually when I’m in hospital… seriously it’s SUPER weird) filtered through my ears. I don’t know if it’s possible to be haunted by a song you’ve never heard before. I don’t know how a sound can make you stop dead. But I did.

I uncurled from the little knot of pain I had curled up into, my furrowed brow became smooth again, and I went limp as I relaxed for the first time since I’d been dragged from sleep by the pain. I hurt, but I was separate from the hurting because I was focussed entirely on something else. I’d never heard most of the songs, so I listened intently to every word, and managed to somehow zone out and detach myself from… myself. My mind latched onto some of the lyrics and buried them away within its thoughts, taking comfort in lyrics that were written about entirely different situations to the ones which it related them to. And everything was just ok. For 45 minutes I just laid there, completely still, no tension in my muscles, finally able to close my eyes. And then when the music stopped, the pain was still there, but I was calm enough to figure out how to sleep with it.

I now know most of the lyrics to pretty much all of the songs on that album. Until yesterday I listened to nothing else. I even played it to next door’s chickens (I had to look after their animals the other evening). In a weird way it made the pain worth it, because yes the pain sucked but hey, here was some more music that not only sounded awesome to my brain, but also struck a chord with it with a few songs that said things I’d felt (at my health, at other people, at my doctors, at myself, at the world, at the people who bullied me through school…) or that my brain could twist into fitting situations it was familiar with.

I live in Mile End. Well I do when I’m at uni. It is home to me. Mile End isn’t too far from Brick Lane (actually a short walk from where some of my lectures are). In fact, they share the same E1 postcode. Tonight Bastille announced that there’s a free “popup event” going on at Brick Lane tomorrow between 2 and 8pm, presumably involving… Bastille… I spent my entire day today (once I was awake and had got on top of my pain) piling up the stuff I need to take back to London when I move into my new accommodation on Saturday. I didn’t think I could want to be in London any more than I did after seeing all my stuff waiting there ready to go back, and then suddenly there it was. I would catch the train and go to London, but my mum and I are going away together tomorrow for a two night spa break near BIRMINGHAM. OF ALL THE DAYS FOR BASTILLE TO HAVE A POPUP EVENT it’s the one time in the next few MONTHS that I can’t be there. I hoped to get tickets to see them at the O2 arena in November but they are far too expensive for me to afford. It’s weird to think about how many times I’ve nearly died, and all the stuff I’ve been through with their music playing in my ears.

For me, my love of this band is all about their music. I’m not the type of person to obsess over band members and talk about them as if I know them – to me that feels really weird to do when I’ve never even spoken to a person and therefore have no idea what they are like. I kind of think the way an artist/ band should be judged is by their music. I base my respect for them upon that. And in a weird way, I have a lot of gratitude as well. Because honestly, it sounds so pathetic to say, but I don’t know what I’d have done if that song hadn’t played in the back of that ambulance, if the ward radio hadn’t played that song as I was about to break down, if through the recent toughest moments of my life that music hadn’t been there… Well, I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know what I would have been aiming for, and what the end result would have been. So I kind of don’t need to see Bastille live, because their music already gave my soul a little bit of life.

Music is there when people aren’t.

It is also there when I don’t want to be.

It is a more helpful medicine to my mind than laughter will ever be (not quite as helpful as running again will be, but hey). I was, as you can see, very recently reminded just how awesome music can be (Julien Solomita vlogs also entertained me for hours over the last week, and have been pretty important over the last year especially, but they shall get a post another day – unfortunately you may have to endure reading about that too).

For now, no way but tunes (yes I actually just typed the words no way but tunes. I am actually cringing at my screen right now. What is my brain even doing? Sorry for this post)

The 1975: Properly Alive

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!)

Lauren Aquilina: Getting A Grip

It was 2012. I’d been in hospital for a year. It was Christmas. I was waiting to be transferred to London, but it had snowed for a couple of weeks, and even the ambulances outside the window were getting stuck. My friend in the bed next to mine and I (we were the only two in the bay, but had pulled the curtains across in front of our beds and broken the one in between it to make out own private room, and put christmas decorations EVERYWHERE) had gone for a late night walk, as we often did. We dragged my drip stand all the way to the main entrance, and we sat on the information desk because the whole place was dead. We looked in front of us and saw a christmas tree. It was christmas eve and apart from that single tree you wouldn’t have known it was Christmas anywhere other than the children’s ward we were living on.

We both burst into tears. We sat there, and we talked about how it didn’t feel like christmas and how badly we wanted to be with our families, and we just cried. Uncle security guard (a completely awesome security guard who would sit in my room and talk to me for ages, turned out to be a family friend, and made me his honorary niece because he really is like an uncle to me and he picked my mood up off of the floor a lot and really motivated me and encouraged me long after that admission ended) found us both, and gave me a bar of chocolate he’d been on his way to deliver, to cheer me up.

My friend and I went back to the ward. We played a game of pool, and then she smashed up the games room because she was so upset, throwing the pool balls everywhere. The nurses understood, they left her be; our favourite nurse found us and hugged us both and we cried into her uniform as she tucked us under her arms like we were ducklings. My friend got into bed and I laid there watching as she cried herself to sleep, occasionally managing to make her laugh before we both broke down again. We had the games console in our little den with us (part of a TV unit provided by the amazing charity Starlight which provides things and experiences for sick children in and out of hospital) but it didn’t help. We wanted to be home and we missed our families and the outside world more than ever (she’d only been there a couple of weeks, and it looked like she would be let out within the next couple of days). Christmas made it so much more difficult to be where we were and we just couldn’t contain our emotion any more. I curled up myself with one of the cuddly toys that one of my favourite nurses had given me, and decided music might help, seeing as sleep wouldn’t take me away from reality.

“You’re alone, you’re on your own. So what? Have you gone blind? Have you forgotten what you have and what is yours? Glass half empty, glass half full – well either way you won’t be going thirsty. Count your blessings, not your flaws.

You’ve got it all, you lost your mind in the sound, there’s so much more, yo can reclaim your crown. You’re in control, rid of the monsters inside your head. Put all your faults to bed. You can be king again.” – Lauren Aquilina, King

I found that song, and those words made me get a grip. I took comfort in them, I downloaded the song, put it on repeat, tried to forget that it was Christmas eve, and went to sleep with my IV pumps whirring gently next to me, pushing their cargo into my PICC line.

Every time I had a little bit of a wobble and the overwhelming despair closed in, I played that song, and it pulled me back to reality, forcing me to accept how lucky I actually was and get a grip. The person who had written and recorded that song (Lauren Aquilina) was about a year older than me, and she had such a great attitude, so I felt I had no right other than to live by the mentality she taught with that song. Also, I found it inspiring, that someone so close in age to me could achieve such awesome things. I didn’t want to do awesome things, I did’t even want rid of my PICC line, I just wanted to raise money for charity and possibly become a doctor or an author or an artist (I was young, I wanted to be many unachievable things, clearly… Although I’m not so far from a few of them now), and Lauren Aquilina made that feel achievable.

I was terrified about going to London, as the last time I’d been to the specialist children’s hospital attached to the hospital I was due to return to, I’d ended up on a ventilator in the paediatric intensive care unit, had to have emergency surgery because of a staff error, and pulled out my own breathing tube in the PICU before they’d had time to deflate the balloon thing that kept it in place, which had annoyed my trachea and made me make an awful sound every time I inhaled (and almost meant they had to put me back into a medically induced come and intubate me again to give me time to recover). I was terrified, but three weeks later in the ambulance that took me there, with one of the many nurses I looked at as an extra mum, and a paramedic who knew my aunt (who is also a paramedic, and would abandon her patients in the middle of the corridor and run at me and my drip stand to give me a hug if she bumped into me at the hospital), I listened to that song over and over (along with a bit of Imagine Dragons) until I got a grip again. It was after that awful, awful, highly traumatic admission, that I discovered “Pompeii” by Bastille on my journey back to my local hospital.

Hudson Taylor: The Brothers I Almost Died To See

“I was climbing, now I’m falling, I’ve been pushed off by a man who has  made it to the top and now defends it ’cause he can and I have found the breach in his front line

I was open now I’m hidden from the danger of his words, I have found a good position and I’ll play for what he’s worth and he will find nowhere left to hide

I was losing now we’re drawing, I’m not afraid to spill my blood, I’m not backing down so I’d surrender ’cause you should and fact the truth

You raise the flag I’ll tear it down

You may have won the battle but I’ll take the fight to you…Your fear has now come true” – Hudson Taylor, Battles

This song has reminded me of many doctors over the years. And teachers. People who could have helped me and wouldn’t. Most recently, university, and the physical incarnation of my distress there (a person, just to clarify). I’m not sure how I stumbled across the music of Hudson Taylor, but I know it was at a time where I focussed more on the words of a song than the sound of it, and that allowed me to appreciate the magic and connect in ways I may otherwise never have been fortunate enough to do so.

This music came to mean an awful lot to me through periods of isolation and bullying and rumblings in the family jungle. Also through all the hospital admissions and health hiccups I faced through the three years of sixth form (had to redo a year because I missed the entirety of it basically). In… 2014? Or maybe nope, nope… Last year? They had a gig in London. I left school early that day because my heart was being a poop. I wouldn’t let them call my parents or any doctors, I simply went home with my good friend because he had the afternoon off and lived really close (ok not really close but much closer than I did) to the train station. I slept. I got on the train and met up with a friend that I’d met once before at a medicine taster course thing during the summer (we had on that single occasion spent hours and hours sat in a coffee shop and she’d just melted down at me and a bond of steel was forged. Plus we look almost identical, it’s scary).

My heart was doing a bunch of stuff, so we delayed leaving. We walked the entire length of the international train station place to get to the underground station joined to it. My heart was FREAKING OUT. So we turned around and went back. I’m not sure how, but we ended up stood outside a sushi place inside the station. Apparently, I said my heart felt funny, and then “no, REALLY funny…” And then I hit the floor. I’m told I was greyish white, drained of all colour. Two policemen ran over apparently. They grabbed the defibrillator thing and they were awesome and an off-duty doctor guy ran over too. Nobody else stopped. I remember waking up and seeing this bald guy laying on the floor next to me, talking to me in a really soothing voice and trying to reassure me. There was a policeman kneeling next to me on the other side, holding my hand. I still remember his face, actually.

And then I’m told that I held my chest and lost consciousness again, with my eyes open, and they couldn’t find my pulse. My pulse eventually was all irregular and weak (but importantly, PRESENT). Because it still wasn’t getting enough blood, my brain was all let’s have a seizure. And I did. I’m told the policemen kneeling beside me rolled me on my side and pulled me half onto his lap, curled his arms around me, and put his gloves under my head while his colleague cupped his hands under my head to stop it hitting the floor. Other police people had apparently appeared. They laid on me to stop me hurting myself or them while I fitted. They gave me oxygen (I used up an entire bottle because I’m all greedy like that). I came round. Apparently I apologised profusely, removed everything, tried to tell them I was fine, apologised again, said I had to go to a concert, got as far as sitting up… And then my heart rate went really fast but my pulse was at the same time really slow… And it happened all over again. Five times actually, before the chest pain was so bad I gave up.

Every time I woke up, there was this bald guy (who was meant to be on his way home) laying on the floor, just talking to me soothingly like I was a frightened child (much appreciated, he was such a legend). The policeman who had me sort of on his lap kept telling me it was no bother every time I got all panicky and apologised, and kept also talking to me like I was his kid, and moving his thumb round and round in circles my hand (which he was holding).

The paramedics that arrived scooped me off the floor without pausing to do a lot other than hook me up to their ECG. The machine got all stressed out because my heart was all stressed out and was beating extremely fast to try and make up for its inadequacy. I didn’t know who I was, or why I was in London. Just that my chest really hurt and I’d bitten the inside of my lip pretty hard. They said I was their first genuine patient of the night. One of the paramedics lived near my parent’s house in Kent. His daughter had been in hospital a lot, so he understood how scared I was. I kept asking him when the last train home was; he knew I wouldn’t be getting on it but played along to calm me down. When I freaked out in the resus area of A&E, he stood next to the bed to stop me getting off, and just stroked my shoulder a little to chill me out. I couldn’t remember the code for my phone, so I couldn’t unlock it to call my parents (there was shouting down the phone when they eventually called after I didn’t show up on the last train home, their worry went off like an explosion).

This was why I got referred to a specialist at a different London hospital for my heart, so I guess every cloud has a silver lining. But I was so upset about missing the concert. A month and a half later, Hudson Taylor did a small gig on Oxford Street in the store which sold their newly released album. Tickets were free, you had to apply for a pair, and I won some. None of my friends could be bothered to go to London with me to see a band they’d never heard of, so in the end I took my mum (who decided she loves their music). I heard the music I’d walked out of school to before lessons had even started (when you’ve terrified enough teachers with your health, people don’t care when you just walk out, you become invisible, it becomes acceptable because you are unwell and it feels like nobody cares), or locked myself in the bathroom of our house with, or been reassured by. I met the two brothers responsible for that music afterwards, they took a selfie with me. I left with a signed album which had a whole new bunch of their songs, and a weird connection with those songs that I hadn’t expected to make.

“Get me out of this room now, get me out of this world…

And I’d kill to get away, I’d die to make my own way. I’ll lose to celebrate, I’d win to see the good days. I’ll  never stop the fighting, so bring to me your worst. I’ll never stop believing that I could rule the world some day.”Hudson Taylor, Drop Of Smoke

(This is pretty much what my brain thinks when I start to freak out at being in hospital after I’m well enough to relive the trauma of previous stuff).

(I emailed the police at the station to thank them for saving my life, but I never ever found the bald man who laid on the floor and told everyone what to do. I can’t ever thank any of those people enough, and they are my heroes).

There is one particular song that I found especially comforting (ok there are several, but not enough room to quote them all and they were a comfort in situations I can’t disclose here). It said the words I longed to hear from anybody; but until someone was willing to support me, this song just had to do, and I kept hoping that one day someone would be there.

“When you face 28 thousand doorways, or you’re left hoping for an escape… When your day is 24 hours of heartache, well show me the way you break and know that it’s not your fate, not today. 

When the wildfires leave you no way out I’ll scream up to the sky with you. When the wildfires leave you no way out my door is always open to you.

Another day with millions of different people starting to lose their heads, forgetting to be themselves, what else. Do you know you’re someone I want to be with, you’re someone who’s just themselves. You know you can cry for help, I’ll be waiting…” – Hudson Taylor, Wildfires