A Strange New Land
When doctor Alex finally arrives, it is dark outside. Or so I assume. the pain is beginning to subside. But the pressure and scratchiness behind my eye is not.
The bright blur when he gently peels my patch off blows my mind, and every expectation I had out of the water.
Who put that there, I wonder as once again I sit my chin on the platform with all the paper, and lean my forehead against the bar.
Just look straight ahead, he says, and I manage a laugh. Yeah right!
But I realise when he says it, it is almost to himself rather than to me. We both know that isn’t going to happen. But there is something comforting about the remark, and knowing he knows my eyes better than anyone, and would immediately know if there was something wrong…
Pressure is down he says matter of factly.
If the pain increases, get them to call me, otherwise I will see you tomorrow. And just like that, we were done.
I am just snuggling down under my blanket, when Michael rings to say good night, and the familiarity of his voice is so soothing to my soul. I miss him, but I do not. But I do. No I don’t but can’t he talk to me without talking to me?
As tired as I am, my sleep is not solid. as I am up every thirty minutes to use the bathroom. It is proving to be a great limpness test of how I am feeling. Because with each foray into that other room I feel a little more human.
And what do you know, because doctor Alex hasn’t put my patch back on, eventually there is a light in the bathroom.
Has that always been there, I wonder. And did someone move the toilet when I wasn’t here, because now I understand where it is, it makes so much more sense.
My brain begins to work over time.
What does this mean?
Surely if there were a light there, I would have known. I would have seen it.
How could I have not seen a light. That is ridiculous. But it must have been there, because hospital lights in bathrooms don’t turn off, I reason. But that didn’t make sense. Because surely I would have seen it.
By the time the nurses were swapping shifts again, I am wondering what is expected of me. Will someone come and get me? Am I supposed to be dressed? What about my discharge papers?
A shower is out of the question, partly because I am just going home, but mostly because I can’t get my eye wet. And besides, this is a foreign shower, and how will I know where the taps are? and it is all too hard. Am I supposed to have a shower? Good god, why hasn’t anyone come to get me.
Again, someone enters, and puts down my breakfast tray without a word. The only reason I know what it is, is because Michael had ordered it for me the day before.
I had chosen a plane croissant, as it was the easiest thing to think of on the menu. A one handed meal. No messing with little butter wrappers or jam jars. Just something simple, that would probably taste like cardboard.
I had been off coffee and carbs for weeks, in a detox preparation for my special day. But I had since decided, Michael would make me a cup of jo when I got home as a reward for being so brave. Because yes, yes I was brave. This was brave. After all, I had protected my eyeball from falling out for an entire night. I am a warrior! Oh, thank God, the pain has subsided, I think as I am hustled to doctor Alex’s special room down the hall. The same room had been to last night with the special eye-seeing machine thingy.
As I sit quietly, I contemplate how much better I feel in comparison to last night when I sat in this same chair, patiently waiting for Alex to arrive.
The day before had been one of the best days of my life, even with the pain factor. But holy hell it had hurt.
I had barely been able to open my eyes the evening before when he had asked. So we did the best with what we had.
But now, I don’t want to open them. The light is too much. My brain is already overworked, and the day hasn’t even begun.
They are sticky and groggy, and it physically hurts to push my eyelids up. It is as if the muscles of my eye have contracted, and I cannot stretch them out. Everything feels so thready and fragile I worry that if I push they will snap. So Is implying listen… Listen to the world around me.
I know doctor Alex is coming down the stairs before he sees me. Those footsteps of his are purposeful. They are not the footsteps of a man who has time to waste. He is on a mission. And I like them.
Hi Alex, I call, knowing it will surprise him.
How did you know it was I, he asks surprised to see me sitting there, let alone knowing it is him. It was all just as I predicted. I giggle in response, because messing with him is so much fun.
I knew he wanted to know if I could see him, and his brain was trying to reconcile the ginormous disconnect between what he knew to be true, and the his unconscious interpretation of my greeting.
I heard you coming, I confess after a pause.
He laughs, and leads me into the room.
Wow, I gasp at the yellow light, which now hurts my eyes. Where did that come from? My chin on the platform with lots of papers, and my forehead pushed up against the bar of the eye seeing machine thing.
That is definitely brighter than yesterday, I add, as he continues to examine me.
Excellent, he responds, admiring his handiwork. But you know recovery will be slow, right?
Of course, I said.
Shit, it wasn’t as I would be able to handle it if it were instantaneous, I think with the benefit of hindsight and the manufactured lubrication of too much pain relief in my system.
I am just happy to be rid of the beast, I continue as he does his light shining thing.
As I ready to leave, I suddenly look up and notice his black jacket and white shirt.
The words fly out of my mouth like the most natural things in the world: Oh, I can see you’re wearing a black jacket and a white shirt. Although by see what I really mean is there is a black block of colour flanking a white block of colour, so of course that has to be a suit jacket and shirt.
. But does his shirt have buttons, I wonder. I mean of course it would, but can I see them, or is my imagination and assumptions just filling in the blanks where my sight should be? for days, I ponder it. Did I see it, or did I imagine it. Why would I imagine it. Why would I see it. and round the loop we go.
Ok, you’re free to go. But call me if anything changes. No matter how small, don’t doubt it, just call, he says before signing my discharge papers.
I promised, and we parted ways.
When I walk back into my room, I am shocked. Who put that yellow curtain there. What is my bed doing on that side of the room. I didn’t leave it there. I’m sure it was somewhere else. And those chairs? Oh God those chairs. Ooh look, the bathroom must be behind that door….
I had made the nurses turn the lights off pretty much the moment Michael had left the previous day. Cool, calm, and quiet was what I had needed. But now they were back on. Or were they? Again, I will never know.
Can someone call my husband please; I ask the head nurse, when she enters holding my discharge papers. I couldn’t wait to see him. It had been the longest time ever I had been apart from Little, and Michael’s first night alone with her.
My heart leaps with joy when they come in. But what the hell is with those pants? Baby girl is wearing the bright orange jeans my sister in law Jill had given her for her birthday. I never knew they were that bright. When we had opened the gift, and everybody had exclaimed at their colour, I hadn’t understood. I felt left out. And part of me didn’t believe them. Because surely if they were that bright, I would have seen them. How could I not see them? How could I feel so far away in a room full of my loved ones in such close proximity? This left out feeling was a sensation that was so familiar to me that I barely registered it on the scale of isolation, which balanced my life.
But now, these were ridiculously bright, and I want to cry out of happiness and confusion at them. I don’t understand they belong to Little, but I do understand. Little is familiar to me the way I am to myself. I would recognise her anywhere. Even as a bright orange pair of pants.
I cannot make out my husband, or the rest of Little, but those pants are a sign from God. They are definitely on the outside of my mind. As in not where my imagination lives. And I keep seeing them.
I feel so disorientated as we walk hand in hand out of the hospital. Who turned up the sun, I ask Michael, covering my eyes. It is so bright. So very very bright. Blindingly bright. Had it always been like that? Oh my goodness, would it always be like this? How would I learn to live with it if it were always this bright, I begin to pannic? Seriously, who put that there? That wasn’t like that yesterday. Again, my brain tries to puzzle it out, but with no luck.
How had I never noticed it before?
How did it do that?
That is a whole heap of crazy brightness, yet only twenty-four hours previously, I had to ask if it were sunny. How could that be? How could have the sun always been this bright and dazzling yet I had not known? How could I bridge that gap? How had I missed it? That was impossible to miss, but I had. I knew I had, because surely I would remember something so bright and beautiful. Something too wonderful and light that I physically couldn’t look in its direction, and had to scamper backward with both hands over my eyes and dark glasses in order to cope.,