Read After Covid…36

That summer was hot. Its glare let nothing escape. It was an examination, an inspection, and observation. The music ran beneath all that was in the air. The drone of the bombers, matched only by the insistent buzz of their accompaniment, swept overhead. Many below did not hear their arrival. There was the nudge of warm bodies, the slapping of skin, and the hiss of a long dead snake. The patient heard their approach but was sworn to secrecy: this was not his world; his brief was to watch and learn. And yet the world outside of his window was the one he had been looking for. His taste was for milk and honey with a little Whiskey Sour to move thinks along. He waited for the next scene.

Nurses have a way of acting in public. The wards are their worlds. When darkness falls, the trolls emerge. Most nurses are decent. They have the capacity to care and the stamina to keep on caring. There are the ones who are not so good; the ones who are somewhat indifferent to the agonies of others, they do the job because it is that, a job. Their faces tend not to hide their windscreen wiper approach to the job, an automatic response generated by external mechanisations that propel them through the task at hand. The object of their daily work is to get to the end of that particular shift without having to endure too much strain. These nurses are probably the norm, not the angels of old but not the dark wanderers of the post midnight hours. After midnight, my room wanders too.

The absolute top thing about post-trauma care is not the words of encouragement and advice from nursing staff, nor the warm smiles in the wilderness. Not even the physioterrorists with their concoctions of ‘there to make you move exercises’, and neither is it the now free TV (courtesy of Covid 19). No, what is absolutely top about post trauma care is the wonderful cocktail of drugs that they are able to create for your cruise through pain, helplessness, desperation, and other islands along the way. Without the drugs, the journey would be one long, so very long, and so very, very painful. Morphine, I love thee.

Drugs are that stir beneath the bow when the boat is in harbour. They connect to the under- currents of the sea, the secret paths of all things submerged. My room moves on the currents and is never moored in one place. Ever since coming here, I have had a sense of drifting and have felt that time is no longer the anchor that I once believed it to be. The older I become the more contextual time becomes. Significant moments appeared like sandbars dredged up from below by some natural disturbance. Last night I was in the grounds of this great hospital. Again it was summer and again I was being pulled by the sunshine and the noise of people congregating to celebrate the warmth. At these moments, the concrete of my confinement dissipates and I am through it without ever having had to cross such divides. Outside, I see a scene from my childhood, a re-enactment of previous pastoral celebrations, but this one has more than a touch of authenticity. I’m thinking Thomas Hardy without the omens. My intention is to stay and wander through the field with its stalls. I want to savour this thing that has been conjured up from the deep. I want to taste the produce, play horseshoes, and see those things that have been submerged for so long. But then, the siren of my bladder sounds and everyone is running for cover. The skies darken and the first wave of enemy fighter sweep in from the East to dance with or own defenders for the right to dominate the sky.

Back in my hospital bed, that functional collection of metal, foam and plastic, I desperately search for the controls. My personal assistance alarm sits some way off, out of my reach and emitting red. It dares me to try to reach out and press it and it dares from a position of strength. For the alarm holds all the cards. If I reach it, can send a message into the ether. It will radiate helplessness and weakness. It will disturb the natural flow of the night and unveil my position. After that, they will descend. Whatever roams the night will be at my door, their invitation assured.  

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