It really is. If you could call today anything I guess you could call it a low day. We all have our ups and downs, but it’s all about how we get back up from our downs. Hospital life is tricky. I make jokes with the other patients about how I’m institutionalised, how I there’s no life for me on ‘the outside’ and how far technology has advanced since I first got in. But it’s about who you make those jokes with. How you get positive enough to make jokes at all. It’s the little things.
When I was in the burns ward, I felt like I had spent as long as I could remember inside, away from the sun. I was barely walking, and losing hope. I would stand staring in the mirror whilst streams of tears ran from my eyes. I couldn’t understand what had happened to me. Perhaps it still hasn’t hit me. But the point is I was losing myself, I thought I had lost myself.
Mandy, the blue haired nurse that reminded me so much of my friends mum Andrea, mentioned a pair of straighteners they had which were donated to them. Those straighteners were my lifeline. I was so used to being dressed up, or at least dressing up every once in a while. In hospital you’re in your pyjamas 24/7, your nails can get out of control, you lack your usual basics like a razor, and you know there’s no point in getting them because you’re too weak to do you usual shower regime. To spend some time pampering myself, straightening my hair before visits lifted my spirits. My face didn’t matter because everyone could see my clean long straightened black hair. My hair, the protection, the cover of my skin, the distraction. As I said it’s the little things. Now I’m not in the burns ward, now I don’t have access to any straighteners, I have to lift my spirits in other ways.
I’m in the plastics ward. Here I don’t have my straighteners, my own bathroom, my own room. Here, I have to share with 3 other people, and a story about how I lost it and refused to show my face to anyone when I arrived here is for another blog entry, but here I learned to accept others looking at me, a bit. Here I met Bernadette. A lovely lady. Before getting to know her better, I knew of her seizures I’d witness in the night as nurses and doctor would run in to calm her down. Seeing this and being expected to sleep just meters away whilst this happened was horrible. I was left with a sinking feeling, a helpless feeling, I was useless here.
We met whilst I was crying like a child. There was a bandage to the back of my wound had stuck to the new healing skin, for the second time, and wouldn’t come off. It took 3 days to get it off, but the nurses main method to get this off was to rip it off. During the ripping attempts of day two, I was begging the nurse to leave it, crying for the whole ward to hear. She left and told me she’d be back after I’d calmed down, but I wasn’t taking no chances. Without pants on, and clutching to this painful bandage, I hopped off my bed and ran to the door. My plan was to hide in the bathroom and try get it off myself in the shower.
On my way Bernadette called me to her bed and consoled me. She asked what was up, and gave me advice on what to do. She looked after me and gave me that first hand support I needed. I went into the shower and attempted to soak it off for the next 40 minutes. Since that first conversation, we got talking to the others in the room, and it made things feel less isolated. Thanks to these women, thanks to Bernadette wanting extra biscuits off the nurses, I plucked up the courage to walk to the shop within the hospital. I wanted to treat the women, and for this I showed my face in public. During the night I’d hear Bernadette talking about me on the phone, hearing only pleasant things. I can’t really describe anything further about our interactions and about our private jokes, but I’m sure you would be able to appreciate and understand how much she helped me smile throughout the day. It probably seemed like nothing to these women, but to me it was reassurance that my face was okay, that I was okay, and that I could handle the world.
Bernadette left today, along with both of the other women. They all left around the same time. I’m alone again + the wavy hospital hair.