Sunday July 1. 2018
9:20 – Outside, the vague morning freshness is already turning into brutal heat. Inside, my teenager is playing on the computer, shouting inane rubbish to his friends into the headset, guffawing endlessly about it. My girl is watching cartoons. I am clamping the house shut for the day and running late. Where are my car keys? Pants, I lent the car to a friend for the morning! Ok, bus or bike? The app says the next bus is in 15 minutes, cycling takes 20… Bike. Bag, sunscreen, sunglasses, safety jacket, I lost my helmet last week, which is annoying, but hey, I’ll get a new one tomorrow. Quick heads up to the kids: I’m off to a meeting on the other side of town, will be back for lunch, call if there’s a problem. They nod.
The streets are deserted, the sun’s glare is already blinding, nothing moves. The city braces itself for another day in the current heatwave, I pass through in a pleasant breeze. What shall we have for lunch? Loved the flashmob at the school fête yesterday… Here we go, my final turn is just ahead, I’m even on time for the meeting! I should really call my friends in Toulouse to organise our visit in August…
Tyres screeching behind me. Crazy drivers… Do I really go for magnolia to paint the back wall of the living room? Crash.
My back wheel is paralysed, the shock is so massive. The violence of it. We are nothing against cars. They’re so heavy. So much kinetic energy to dissipate. This makes no sense: They saw me! I’m flying. This is it, I’m gonna get run over.
11:30 – I lie on the hard white table, trying not to cry because the CT scan’s synthetic voice says to stop breathing. The back of my head is torture, the rest of my body gives off a more ordinary sense of pain, of the something-is-missing-wait-it’s-my-skin variety. This is just a bad moment to go through, things will get better. It’s over, I get wheeled back to the ER ward, each joint on the floor is a little jolt of pain to my head, I feel so sick. Can we please stop moving? I’m not a fussy patient. This is just a bad moment to go through, things will get better
“Pain?” 8. New drip bag. I wait for it to kick in…
“Right hand temporal petrosal bone fracture, we cannot tell if the fracture affects the inner ear”. Memories of T’s stint as intensive care specialist at this hospital: Broken petrosal bone = bad. “Blood clot in the right ear”: That would be why I can’t hear. “fractured parietal bone”: Fine, I don’t even know which one it is. “Internal haemorrage at the back”: Oh no, I remember what T used to say, they’re gonna drill into my head to ease the pressure on the brain! “No need for surgery yet, we’ll be monitoring it”: Woop woop, no surgery! Come on guys, let’s stop bleeding!* Something on my forehead, fractured nose. I don’t care, not listening anymore, a nose is not life threatening and they’re not gonna drill into my head…yet.
“Name? date of birth? Today’s date? Look at the light (ow). Look up (ow). Frown. Smile with your teeth (my face feels like sore concrete). Do you remember what happened?” Yes, a car drove into the back of my bike. “Did you lose consciousness?” Yes, I think so, for a few minutes…
I am sandwiched between two shower curtains, someone struggling to breath behind the left one, a young woman talking to a psychiatrist after a suicide attempt behind the right. Pain and anguish everywhere. Please make it stop. This is just a bad moment to go through, things will get better.
Tetanus and meningitis shots, blood works. I feel the needle coming in and out of my scalp. The wound is big and complicated and the intern keeps going off for advice. I almost apologise. This is just a bad moment to go through, things will get better.
Must tell Karine I can’t bake a cake for Lucas’ birthday tomorow. Hope Mr Xmas arranged Michel’s transfer to the new host family.
Superficial wounds bandaged, I’ve lost count, I’m ready to be wheeled to intensive care. Floor tiles, nausea, lifts, transfer to new bed (this is just a bad moment to go through).
Heart-rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation wires, name, date of birth, today’s date, look at the light, do you remember what happened, did you lose consciousness, pain? New drip bag.
Must tell mum and dad that teenager needs a swimming costume and flipflops for handball camp. Will I still be able to paint the back wall of the living room this week?
18:30 – I have visitors: Mr Xmas, my friend Liz and the children. It’s so good to see their faces. I have a normal life. It still exists outside the realm of this hospital. They all look worried. I don’t want them to worry. I try to sound casual and smile. It is so hard, I can’t keep it up. They leave.
*Yup, I’ve been talking to the inside of my head in my head. As you do.