Your husband and baby are outside, a surgical nurse says as she wheels me to the lift.
I have a patch over each eye.
One for the obvious reason, that they had just operated, and we needed to keep it safe and dark. And one on the other eye so the nursing staff wouldn’t think I could see them, and might adjust their behaviour and approach accordingly.
My eye begins to ache almost immediately.
An inescapable intense hurt as though it will fall out of my head any moment.
The whole socket pains like a blue rimmed peace of heavy heavy hot hot hot burny peace of coal.
Actually my entire face hurts, and I can barely breathe through it. What I wouldn’t give to take the mask of my bones off.
My head throbs, and I feel terrible.
I had been worried about how I would cope without seeing Emily for an entire twenty-four hour period, but honestly, if her and Michael hadn’t been waiting in recovery, I wouldn’t care.
It is almost too much they are here.
Even though I know they wouldn’t be anywhere else.
They had taken a quick trip to the playground, as I had been in theatre for close to two hours, but otherwise they had milled about the hospital in eager anticipation.
When I am taken to my room I am convinced I can see it through the patch.
I have a design in my head of what it looks like, and don’t understand when I feel disorientated. Why is the chair facing the wall and not the door?
Why is my bed over there and not where I think it ought to be.
And whoever designed the bathroom did a shit job. Who would put a toilet behind a corner like that…And where is the light?
What window I wonder as Michael comes in and explains to me there is a courtyard I can use just outside.
He’s insane I think in my post-operative haze.
I hear Emily coming, but when she enters, her toddlerness is all too much for me
She had been waiting for such a long time for her mummy, and is understandably tired. I can hear it in her tone.
I want to cry, but is it with joy or anguish.
Look at mummy’s glasses she says to daddy, pointing to my patches.
And to think I had been worried as to how she would receive me. I hadn’t wanted to scare her . But in her usual innocence, she had made it into something beautiful. Because yeah, I guess my patches do look like glasses I laugh, as she climbs up on my knee and starts to talk.
We haven’t really told her what is going on apart from mummy is going to the hospital for a sleep over, and an operation. Not that she knows what either of those things is. But as for the potential let there be light outcome we are banking on, and pretending we’re not, we have kept that quiet, as we don’t feel it an appropriate conversation to have with her two-year-old mind And by quiet I mean, she probably knows everything, because it is all we have spoken about over the last six months..
All we really want her to understand is that mummy won’t be in my bed that night, and that Emily will come and get me after her toast tomorrow.
Whenever we are explaining to her what is going to happen next, we try and always wait until the night before, and after all the other good things have happened in the day, so she can keep track.
She’s a pretty easy-going kid, but like us, she just likes to have an idea of what to expect in the coming while.
So in this case we had waited until after nanny had visited, and after we had been to the good park etc.…
The head nurse comes an does, bringing me tea, a sandwich, and some medication.
But I can barely bring the cup to my mouth.
Do you want lunch? Someone asks.
Sure, I say, even though I don’t really want anything. But in my poverty consciousness, I feel like I should, as who knows when I will eat again. My brain is so stuck in survival mode, and working from that base level of preservation, I can’t think further than the current moment.
When it comes to the hot meal, I cannot cope with coordinating a knife and fork, let alone a spoon or navigating the distance between the plate and my face. So Michael has to feed me. But even that is too much stimulation. But I love him for trying.
Meanwhile Emily begins to lose the plot completely, and I almost end up yelling at him to take her and go.
The sound physically stings me.
Why won’t she stop?
Please honey, you’ve got to go, I say as he packs up the pram.
I’m sorry, but you’ve just got to go.
The anxiety is coursing through me like an electrical current, causing my eye to hurt even more.
I literally see red, and not only does it scare the shit out of me, but it steels the ounce of energy and tolerance I had left, and whisks it away with my reason.
I know sweetie, we’ll be back later, he responds, kissing me ever so gently and lovingly on the head.
I want a moment alone with him to hold his hand until I find my place with him, but oh God Emily’s crying is too too much.
Please baby girl, mummy knows you’re tired but I don’t know how to put your need first right now, I plea.
I feel guilty as I hear them walk down the hall…