Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On Being Ill

My head is pounding. Pounding, throbbing, bursting, pounding. Little men have squashed cotton wool in place of the menisici between my brain and skull and it’s too tight. The granny trolley being wheeled down the street outside might as well be gunfire, it seems so loud. My teeth seem to rattle in my mouth and the vice around my skull tightens another notch and I can hear the blood pounding through my veins and arteries.

My throat tightens. A wave of nausea rises up my oesophagus and stops before it reaches my throat, and my empty stomach contracts and relaxes. I take a deep breath. The next wave comes, so quick as to be a spasm, wrenching me forward and despite this I know I will not be sick. I try to breathe, too shallow and my breathing rate increases. I heave again over the still-empty bowl on my knees. Suck air into my lungs. Heave and suck, heave, heave, suck, heave, suck desperately as spots begin to appear before my eyes. Finally, I vomit, and can breathe a little easier before the next wave comes.

I’ve been vomiting for what seems like a lifetime. There is nothing to vomit. There was nothing to begin with, now I am vomiting bile. It burns my throat, already raw, burns my oesophagous, exhausted from constant movement. The pain in my stomach is worse, breathing is obscured by pain and I can barely think. I am hyperventilating, aware of this but unable to stop myself, unable to talk, to vocalise the pain that twists my intestines and knots my body.

Morphine flows into my vein through the needle in my arm. It stings, everything stings. The light. Movement. The texture of the hospital gown and the gentle touch of the nurse. Morphine acts quickly. I am aware of another drug, to stop the nausea, but dimly. I pass my glasses to my mother, who hovers anxiously. I cannot see and I drift in and out of awareness now I no longer have pain to pin me to consciousness.

I am being hooked up to a drip. The nurse tells me its saline and I nod, not really understanding. I drift back to sleep. My head twinges, ever so slightly, and though to remind me that it is only the drugs between me and the pain. I’m awake. The drip is two-thirds empty and my head is starting to hurt.

The drip is gone. I am wobbly, spaceially aware but unable to do anything about it as I reel slightly. I am home. More painkillers and more tablets to stop the nausea. I sleep, curled in bed and glad of the pillows and the duvet. I wake regularly, and in the early hours I take more pills.

The pain. It’s back. Pounding pain as the vice around my skull is tightened. Knots in my stomach tighten and undo despite the painkillers and it is all I can do to lie there, hoping not to go to hospital.

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