I was in a head and neck ward. So I was there with people who had… well… swollen faces. Familiar swollen faces. With feeding tubes in their noses and patches on their throats announcing that they had, not too long ago, had tracheostomies.
Oh how I felt for them.
It suddenly felt not so long ago, that cold, snowy March in 2018.
But we’re not there now, we’re here. November 2020.
Across from me was a lady who felt warm from the moment I saw her. At some point she made her way past me and she wanted to come over to say hi.
‘Hello.’ I said.
‘I have been there. Where you are, I’ve been there. Two years ago.’
Here? She gestured. Really?
‘Let me show you pictures.’ I said. I brought up those pictures on my phone of when my face had been that swollen. When I had been there.
Oh wow. She gestured. You look amazing! So it does get better!
‘It does. Oh it does.’ I said.
‘I don’t usually look like this…’ I say, pointing at my black eye. ‘But yes. It does.’
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
She went back to her bed. She excitedly gestured to her nurses that I had given her hope.
She’s hard of hearing. ‘Deaf’ she says. But I think she understands some things I am saying.
Later in the day, her speech therapists/physios come by and re-place the steri strips around her trachy hole and by putting pressure on it, she is able to talk more easily. Those things are really tricky.
We make fast friends. She is 72. I give her my card to direct her here in case it is of any use to her. She is a beautiful light that is in the bay across from me.
I also make friends with the person in the bay next to me. In a similar space, though she’s a bottom jaw-y. She has been in hospital for 3 weeks. She is bleeding more than they would have expected. She is waiting to see if she has to go back in for more surgery. By the time I leave I think she’s found out that they are going to take her back in.
These days you are in hospital alone. You are not allowed visitors of any shape or size. At the moment that suits me fine, but I couldn’t imagine not being able to have seen mum and dad during the days through my big surgery.
I was told I could go home that day. I had to have a CT scan first. The porter was who zoomed me down to the scan in a chair was awesome. We careered through the corridors, taking the green pathway. Calling the lift to pick us up.
Then I had to wait for things to be sorted. The registrar swung by and told me I would be back in clinic on Wednesday the 18th. Sounded good to me. Guess I’d get results then.
I had to wait for my last antibiotics which they could bring forward and give me at 8pm. Did I want to go home after or would I just like to stay the night?
I think I’ll be going home.
My new friend across the way from me asks if I’m going to be leaving them.
‘Yes’, I say.
She asks me if that’s good. She asks if I’m happy with that. And I love her for it. I love that she doesn’t assume how I feel, she asks what I think.
‘I am super happy.’ I say.
She has lots of things going on, medical people coming to visit, she gets a drain taken out, which is super exciting! Not long after, she gets a nurse to help her come over to me. She gives me some fluffy stripy socks with heart shaped grippy bits on the bottom. She says I need them and to think of her whenever I’m wearing them.
I’m wearing them now. Thank you, my dear momentary friend. We spent a lonely moment of our lives bringing each other hope and joy.
We hug when I leave. Not Covid safe. Sorry. But it was necessary.
They sent me home with codeine, eye drops and ointment, to be put in 3 times a day. Your eyes are fantastic little things that are made to get things OUT of your eye. Getting gooey stuff to stay IN them is an interesting challenge…