Thursday, March 17, 2016

A fleeting encounter with Mr Death


I was frightened, yesterday, in the taxi to the hospital.

I knew when I got there a man was going to do something to my heart and the thought of it scared me.

I’d reassured everybody, of course I had, and also tried to reassure myself.

As did the leaflet they gave me when I got to the day care ward.

But somehow the words “radiofrequency ablation” filled me with dread.

And when I read about the 1 in 400 chance of having a stroke I didn’t assume, as I used to, that I would be one of the 399 to whom nothing would happen, and so had absolutely no need to worry.

Instead I found myself imagining it was going to happen to me.

I was going to walk away from it but I trust the doctor. And he was good: he told me I didn’t have to do it. He didn’t pretend that it was guaranteed to work.

But he said that if it did work he could see the potential for great benefits, and I could see that too.

The only reason I could see not to do it was that I was afraid. And that’s never a reason not to do anything.

So I signed on the dotted line and changed into a hospital gown, and thought of dear Mazz in my EVERY ONE who was so upset at seeing her mum in the ugly and demeaning gown she and me were wearing that after her mum’s death she resolved to design a better one.

In the play her mum dies of a stroke. But I wasn’t going to think of that.

Nor reflect on the fact that my veins didn’t want to be tampered with and so disappeared when the nurse tried to insert the cannula.

Instead I tried to reassure her and cracked jokes with the porter trying to manoeuvre my bed round all the awkward corners and then with the theatre nurse about the lack of paper knickers and then she injected me with the drugs and I sank into a state of almost happy semi oblivion

I’d prepared for this moment by remembering my Mr. Death from EVERY ONE. Nigel Barrett plays him so beautifully as such a steely but somehow reassuringly sympathetic figure in a dark velvet suit

And so I’d thought, well if Death’s really like Nigel it won’t be so bad.

And it wasn’t. And I barely journeyed to the threshold of death’s pre antechamber in the shape of the eerily deserted day ward where I had to spend the ight.

In a windowless and dreary place where “where the sun does not shine and the sky is empty of stars”.

And then I returned to the sweet light of day. In this earth which I so profoundly love.

Coming back with a heart strangely lightened. 


Which I take to be a good sign….

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