Sunrise, and the first day of the rest of my life was unfolding.
Navigating back to my bed was a lot less adventurous. Over compensate to the left to get that magnetic pull to right resulting in a sort of straight and narrow – at least I thought it was. It must have looked like a lone, crazy conga line thinking back on it.
In bed, I got back to the really pressing problem of not having a voice, or rather not be able to form words. I could “think” the words, but all that came out was unintelligible. I could not form the simplest of words. It was to get worst.
Possibly it might have something to do with the droopy right side of my face. Every now and then I’d be conscious of drooling from the down-turned side of the corner of my mouth. I let it happen, if only to understand it could happen without being aware of it.
All of the right side my body was affected – head, arm and leg. I remember somebody saying “stroke” in the A and E, so maybe it was just temporary. People don’t die from strokes – yes, as a matter of fact they do. Maybe I’m dead and this a form of purgatory, taking my speech away from me; taking full mobility away from me leaving me helpless, requiring the help of others.
Was this some surrealist play? I remember a 80s TV drama where God is a bored Puerto Rican attendant in a steam bath, which really is Limbo, and the characters are dead.
Could this be the case? Instead, God could be a bored Filipino and the stroke ward could be substituted for the steam bath, after all this is Great Britain – the last time there were steam baths here, the Romans were running them.
I check my breathing…in and out, in and out (or is it the other way round?). Seems in working order. Look at my fellow “guests”…their apparent breathing synchronises with mine although that’s the only activity from the men in the compound of beds, and would be my entire stay.
The man next to me was awake some of the time because I heard the nurses talking to him in sing-song voices usually reserved for small children.
When the nurses came for the other two men there was just a standard greeting – “Good morning, John. How are we today” – to no response.
The man directly opposite me sometimes would have his eyes open but you could see that there was no sight, no recognition, no feeling in them. A thousand yard stare. They changed his nappies on his tall and lanky frame, gave him a bed bath and fed him.
All too often during my hospital stay I used my “roommates” as some of medical measuring tool. My frustration at my lack of mobility and speech was tempered when comparing my condition with theirs – a sort of “there, but for the grace of God, go I” syndrome – a measuring stick where I always came out on top. I always raced to the head of class over the broken and comatose figures I shared hospital quarters with. They never knew that they finished as also-rans, and it shames me to remember them in that context. It was a personal mental exercise that was hardly fair on them, yet it was essential to my survival.
God/Morty, the Filipino stroke room attendant, showed up next to my bed again in the sort of mystifying genie-like attendances where you neither see him coming or going, announcing it was time to take my medicine. I assume the horse-sized pills were doctor-approved but I did not question it. It was the first of three daily doses.
Again, from nowhere, a food cart arrived – breakfast. There was a small, whitish lump about the size of a tablespoon placed before me. I stared at it in my enforced silenced trying to determine what it was. Was it edible? Was it medicine? Or was this the final sign I needed that this was Purgatory?