After they leave, I lay in my bed for an unquantifiable amount of time listening to the head nurse teach one of the students.
The pain continues to increase, and I am not sure I can handle it.
Eventually I relinquish, and press for the nurse, as in a stroke of brilliants, I remember the anaesthesiologist writing a script for some heavy-duty pain relief.
Have you had codeine before, she enquires before giving it to me.
Yep, that stuff is sunshine, I reply with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. Looking forward to the bliss bomb that is bounding my way.
Fifteen minutes later, I am on the bathroom floor throwing up. Desperately afraid with every heave that my eye is going to fall out of my head. But absolutely unable to do anything about it.
The nurses in their ignorance are amazed I have made it to the toilet by myself.
I can only assume They don’t know I can hear them as they discuss it rather too loudly and condescendingly outside my room before entering.
but don’t they know I have been fully blind for months, maybe even years. It isn’t rocket science. Why else would I be here?
Heave heave heave… Oh God, what if my eye really falls out and ends up in the bowl, I think beginning to pannic. Because with every cough and every splutter, the pressure around my eye socket increases, and it really does feel like my eyeball is hanging by a thread.
As my eye weeps, I worry it is bleeding like in one of those medical dramas.
Bleeding had been a possibility, and what if it is happening now. Is the goo blood or just goo? And is goo ok? Nobody had spoken to me about goo.
For weeks afterward, this stresses me out, and I imagine that every drip, drop, slop, or sloo is bright red like a nosebleed, and I am afraid my days of light are over. Because surely it is too good to be true. Surely, I cannot be this lucky. This blessed. Or This gifted from the universe
Somehow, I have linked this to my self-worth. After all my body doesn’t have a history of having my back so to speak. I mean just as I thought maybe it would, especially considering how it had come through when carrying Little to term, and thinking that it could be trusted, only to find out that meanwhile it had been giving me one amazing present, only to take away another in turn. Oh my God, will I have to give back Little? Will that be the price? Is that how life works? When one door opened, another closed? I can barely breathe. What is this going to cost me? Not Little, please dear God, not my baby girl…
I am so afraid. So terribly terribly I cannot breathe afraid.
No no, it won’t be that I reason, it would be my husband. Oh God, what if it is my husband? No, I want to scream. No no no! But I can’t. I am stuck in a place inside my head where screaming is forbidden. Screaming physically isn’t possible, just like in those dreams where I am being chased by a monster. I can’t even open my mouth.
Nobody had explained to me what to expect. They certainly hadn’t said it would be this invasive But why I thought it would not?
I am so afraid. But still I cannot stop throwing up.
I had held it as long as possible, and tried to talk myself out of it. But the nausea is all too much.
The head nurse laughs, and reminds me that she had infact asked if I could handle it.
Well, I thought I could, I croak as she helps me to the bed.
What else you got, I ask. Because this is about a ten on the scale of pain, and I cannot do this.
I cannot believe it hurts as much as it does.
Nothing has ever hurt this much, I decide.
Again forgetting Emily’s birth. But I had been largely knocked out for that, I muse in my more lucid moments. Not that it makes a difference. Because this fucking well hurts.
The afternoon wears on, and the pain doesn’t decrease.
I toss my cookies three more times, and each time the pressure behind my eyeball has me terrified that I’m going to lose it, and this has all been for nothing. And it is all my fault for not being able to handle the pain medication. How had I forgotten that I don’t do pain well. Let alone pain management.
Codeine, morphine, it doesn’t matter. None of it makes a difference to the pain. Or if it does, the nausea was so much worse than the pain, and I can’t rid myself of it.
You’ll have to ring my husband and tell him not to come back, I say to another nurse.
The nurses are hopeless about telling me who they are when they enter the room.
There seem to be a lot of students, and they yank me this way and that with no regard for my body language.
Don’t they know they should ask first, I think with increasing frustration every time one of them touches me without permission.
I am a delicate flower, and being pulled so they could drip something into that needle thingy on my wrist is scary, horrible, and a whole heap of other words I cannot articulate.
I know Michael is desperate to come back and check on me, but I cannot fathom it.
Maybe if he were on his own, but not with baby girl. Not when she has been up from such an early hour, and is already a mess.
She had been so good throughout the entire procedure, but I am sure she too was worn out. As she seems to pick up on our stress and strain no matter how good of a job we think, we’re doing of hiding it from her.
What if she started crying again. That would be loud and well, it would be unbearable So no, no they cannot come back I decide.
If I sleep, maybe the pain will go away, I reason. Although how reasonable this idea is, I don’t know. But it is all I’ve got.
Sleep on your side, but with your upper body elevated the doctors had instructed.
The side that hadn’t been operated on of course.
I try, but all I manage is a semi consciousness of dreams.
I dream that my surgeons create a special resin to attach retinas. I dream all sorts of crazy fears and thoughts. There are goblins and monsters, as well as characters from the book I have been reading.
And to think I had been worried about leaving Little for the night.
Thank God the hospital had been over cautious in their attendance to me, and ensured that I would stay overnight for observation, rather than just sending me home like they would with any other patient.
I had laughed when they had said it, as their reasoning was that I didn’t have another eye.
So what, I thought. How else did they think I did this?
And wouldn’t I be more comfortable in my own environment. I had thought so. If anything being somewhere else made me a little anxious. But as it turns out, they were right.
There is no way I would cope with Little in my arms tonight, I think at one point as I wrestle with the pain.
The doctors had said if I were scared or in pain or something didn’t feel right to give them a call. But what does that mean. I have no idea what to expect.
In the simplistic rosy cloister of my mind, the procedure was to happen on Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon, I would be back on the horse.
Surely if it were normally, a day procedure the recovery wasn’t that bad, I had reasoned. But apparently not. Because this was shit. This was so shit that I insist on the nurses contacting doctor Alex, and getting him back in to measure the pressure in my eyes.
I feel bad about it, given I am supposed to see him tomorrow but the alternative scenario turning in my head is that if I don’t call him, and I could have, and something goes really really wrong, then there is no coming back from that. So I simply have to get over myself, my shyness, my low self-esteem, and call him. Because this matters. This really really matters. Nothing has ever mattered so much.
We had all put a lot into this surgery, and I owed it to myself to triple check if I wasn’t comfortable.
Nobody gets to come back from this, I think as I ring my hands Macbeth style. I feel guilty I am making him more work, but holy fuck! What if something is wrong. I can’t let the story be that I was too timid to act, and that is the reason I can’t see. No no no, we have all fought too hard for this miracle. So come hell or high water, Alex will be here one way or another. Clearly, the nurses aren’t anything to worry about. The problem is, I am so used to getting people to like me, in order to get my needs met, that I don’t know how to manipulate them when it is obvious they’re not invested in this the way I am. But still I have to fight with myself so that I will speak up. When the fuck did, I become this pathetic version of myself, I wonder.
I feel like when it comes to being a blind woman, there are several feminine architypes I can employ to my advantage, or disadvantage depending on how a girl looks at it. In other words, which role do I have to play in order to get what I want?
I can be the bitch, or the good girl, and that is about it. Anything else is a little too much for a culture that likes to put me in a box.
It will say it doesn’t, but it really does, as is evident by the comparative lack of opportunity.
For example, I cannot simply walk into a room and be accepted as an equal. I have to overcome a myriad of unconscious biases, discriminations, assumptions, stereotypes, and ideologies before I even say hello.
So I wait. I listen, and I wait…
Hurry up hurry up hurry up, I murmur as I wait for the medico’s to do my bidding.
Which part of this don’t you understand. Time is not on my side. I cannot afford to fuck this up, and if your complacency fucks it up for me, heaven help you. Because there is no telling what I will do.
God why was my life so much about other people, I think as I continue to sit quietly listening to any sign that the nurse in question has actioned my request.
I am relieved to hear someone talking to Alex on the phone. Again, I am sure they cannot hear me, but fuck them. Think what you want, it isn’t as you’re doing a good job looking after me anyway…
But getting mad isn’t going to help, so I have to calm down.
By this time tomorrow, I will be home with my darling husband and my baby girl. By this time tomorrow, this will all be over. By this time tomorrow, I should be feeling better. It is only a matter of hours, and in a lifetime of seeing, that is nothing.
Eventually I ask a nurse to take me for a walk, because in yet another flash of genius, I decide that maybe the pain lives in my room, and if I get out, then it won’t be there. But I don’t realise it will come with me, and every step turns out to be agony. Too bad the nurse misunderstands my logic, and takes it as a good sign I want to walk, and must be feeling better. I only know this because I over hear him telling someone else.
Yeah way to ask dude, I think.
Step, jolt, sting, spike, pressure, step, jolt, ouch! Why isn’t the pain going? It is as if it had attached itself to me like a parasite Worming its way deep down inside my eye socket through my head and down into my tummy. Oh God, I’m going to vomit, I think as the nurse helps me back into bed.
Who moved my bed, I wonder. Because surely it isn’t facing the right way. Now where is the bathroom?
I nearly cry when my evening meal is silently delivered not thirty seconds after my return to the upside down room.
Use your words people; I shout inwardly as whomever it is that delivers these things pads out without acknowledgement.
When the nurse comes in a few minutes later, and I explain that I cannot feed myself, he doesn’t understand. He just takes my cutlery out, tells me where things are, and even that he doesn’t get right, as he uses his right instead of mine, and then walks out, as though I haven’t spoken at all. Did I actually speak, I find myself wondering as I reluctantly run my hands over my tray, and pray to God I don’t knock anything over. Because if I spill a drink, then I am definitely going to cry. And I’m not sure I am allowed to cry. What if my eye falls out?
I manage to find a cup of soup, which is no small feat given the limitations of my current state of mind, and am hugging that to my chin when the nurse returns, Horrified that I am not using a spoon. But before I can say anything, he takes the dish from me and hands me a spoon, as if that is supposed to help.
I can’t do it, I explain again. I can’t coordinate myself.
Oh, I’ll go toast you a sandwich, he says, again not actually listening to what I am saying, but at least he has said something I suppose. This dinner isn’t very good anyway; he says striding out the door.
I wasn’t minding it, I think as I listen to him go down the hallway. The salt was sort of helping.
By the time he brings me a sandwich, I can only take a bight, as the nausea has set back in, and the idea of food is again repulsive.
I would have been happy with the salty soup, I think again. Wondering where it might actually be, but knowing I don’t have the smarts to find it.
Good god, when would this ever end?
More pain relief, the nurse asks, or rather insists.
Nope, I would rather deal with it I reply. The anti-nausea medication doesn’t work.
Back and forth our conversation goes like a tennis match.
I am surprised at how hard I have to advocate not to have any more pain relief. Seriously?
I’m not sure my body can handle it. Everything tastes so toxic and disgusting as is.
And what if I vomit again? My eye will surely fall out. Surely I have already done some irreversible damage, I think as I try not to appear exhaserbated.
Why the fuck does every single moment of my life have to be a teachable one, I question inwardly as I finally finally get my point across.
Be nice, I just have to be nice! But I hate being nice, I think as the nurse leaves my room.
I wonder if they treat everyone in this way, or is it just me?
I want to go home…