SO IT GOES
I asked him on Christmas eve. I phoned him up after spending the evening at my sister’s boyfriend’s parents house. I sat in the back yard and drank one can of cider. My sister’s boyfriend’s father was making one lazy bigoted statement after the other. Using words like ‘’coon’’ and then he moved on to sexist stuff as I sat there boiling blood in my ears. I called out the fathers sexism and racism as politely as I could. My own father looked more uncomfortable at my standing up for female rights than he did at the man’s racism and sexism.
My sister and her friends looked like they belonged on the cover of magazines. They were going to the only nightclub in Berri, South Australia. It just sort of hit me in the head and heart as I sat there amongst people I had known their whole lives and people I knew not at all. On that day the 23rd of January, I wanted him there to hold my hand.
It was nearly midnight when I called him whilst standing on the back porch of Libby and Hannah’s place. The air was cool but not cold and I could see the stars as I waited for him to answer. I did not have to wait long. He agreed to be there for me on the day of the day surgery. We made plans to spend the day together afterwards. The procedure was only meant to take 45 minutes. Afterwards we could go to the bookstore and spend some of my book voucher. We could have brunch. There were many plans made during that phone call. As I spoke with him I felt less scared.
The night before the 23rd was to be my last night at 132 Brunswick rd. I did not know this at the time. I had organized a small gathering to come and play Scattagories in order to distract me from my slowly simmering fear. We all sat around in the living room drinking alcohol free punch and eating pizza. The day had been a hot one but the cool change had come and a lovely breeze was coming in through the large open windows that looked out to the car port. I had invited Swilliams to take part in the fun but she had plans. I did not invite Sojo. In fact I would not speak to Sojo directly again.
The last conversation we had involved her telling me how I had a problem with food. She was right but not in the way she understood it. She thought my lack of eating was a self- imposed power play. It was not that at all. My lack of eating is a result of no appetite. This is a result of Kidney disease and needing a kidney transplant. It had nothing to do with me being obsessed with self control. I am just never hungry because my body is full of toxins that my kidneys are not flushing out.
Tim and his girlfriend; Rhiannon, Alex and his housemate Ness, Leong and I laughed ourselves silly while playing Scattagories. It was all over by 10:30pm as it was a work night. Leong and I walked everyone to the front door and they each hugged me and said good luck. I close the door and it is just him and I. He helps me clean up the cups and plates and put the pizza boxes in the recycling.
When we are both in my bed he lets me put my head in the space between his shoulder and breast bone. He strokes my bright purple hair. I try to stay awake as the morning will come slower that way. I toss and turn and do not sleep very well. The fan whirs air around the room and I do not know it then but this will be my last night in this bedroom. I do not soak it up or take it in. I am scared of a scalpel that will be wielded and used to cut into my skin. It is not even the transplant itself that I worry about. That ordeal seems very far away. I can only worry about one ordeal at a time. I do not think what it means to have Leong sleeping beside me. He is here because I asked him to be and that is all there is to that. One of my many posters is half falling down off my wall. I can hear the way the loose corner flaps when the breeze from the fan hits it. As soon as I close my eyes the alarm on my phone goes off.
It is still dark. The sun has not yet started to peak up and reach the sky. It is time.
When Leong parks the car the sun has started to rise and the birds are singing. The birds are singing very loudly or at least the sheer number of birds singing makes them sound loud and almost aggressive. It feels like they are all looking down their beaks at me and demanding my bravery. I take Leong’s hand silently as we walk towards the entrance of the hospital. I cannot find my admittance papers even though I put them in my bag. The waiting room for day procedures is lit by those bright and small circle lights. They seem to beam down on you from a super hot planet. The chairs are padded with faded blue and there is a poster that has a good looking older lady smiling out at me. Leong says the lady looks like how he imagines Tall version will look when she is older. I have not seen her in ages. She lost interest in me after she got a new boyfriend. Also I mentioned her on my blog and she got upset.
As we wait for my name to be called I sit with my sun-glasses on. I have discovered the horrible hot lights seem less hot if my sunglasses are on. There is a television on in the corner of the room to my left. It is playing a morning show; inane chatter and commercials.
I am waiting for my name to be called from a lady sitting at a desk. She does the admin stuff. There are two desks and a lady at each desk. There is also a door. People in scrubs come and poke their heads out that door and call people inside. When one of the desk ladies call my name I stand up and Leong does too. We sit at the desk and the lady asks me a bunch of questions I am yet to be bored of answering. I give her Leong’s name and number as contact person. ‘Relationship?’ The lady asks.
I falter for a moment and make sure not tpo look at Leong.
‘Friend.’ I say.
We go back to our seats in the waiting area. A person in scrubs pokes their head in through the door. ‘Robyn Beveridge.’’ The person in scrubs calls.
I watch to see who gets up. What a remarkable name. I think. The name of a hero in a book or a film. It is a name owned by an old woman with spongey grey hair and glasses. She wears purple cardigan. She got up and made her way slowly towards the door.
When my name was called, my heart jumps. I grab Leong’s hand and made our way towards the door. Through it there was a corridor and bright lighting. A nurse led Leong and I into a small windowless room. The nurse kept sniffing as she got more paperwork for me to fill out. She asked me about pre existin g heart conditions and sniffed again.
‘’Sorry.’’ She said. She pumped some hand sanitizer from the wall above the desk and sniffed some more. She excused herself and went to blow her nose. When she came back she sat down again and looked at me. I looked at her.
Then it happened. My heart started throbbing incredibly quickly. My eyes widened in fear as I looked at Leong. He scooted over to me and touched my knees with his. He grabbed my right hand and I squeezed. ‘My heart.’’ I said softly.
‘’Has this happened before?’’ She asked me. I nodded. Then it went away as suddenly as it came. The paperwork got filled out. My grip on Leong’s hand loosened.
I was given a big blue plastic bag to put my clothes and valuables in. I was given a hospital gown and blue paper bags for my feet. I was allowed to keep my knickers on. I changed in a cubicle and then took my plastic bag to the dark waiting area where other people like me were waiting in the same gown and paper slippers. They looked like they filled out the gowns better than I did. I found an empty chair and sat in it and bunched up feeling small and scared. Leong had to go to move the car. They called my name and I was alone and they could see the panick in my eyes. The nurse called Leong on his phone and he came back. He hugged me and I wanted to crawl under his jumper. A nurse told me that he would be there in the ward when I woke up.
It was this that made me take my arms from around his waist and be led away through a door into a brightly lit hallway where a bed was waiting for me. I climbed onto it and lay down. I thought about getting up and running away. How long would it take for me to be caught? Not long. I stared at the ceiling as some orderlies rolled the bed down a hallway and in through some metal double doors. I immediately felt colder. The air was frigid and I started to shiver. The room seemed small but filled with important medical things I could see some more double doors just at the end of my bed.
On my right was shelves filled with boxes of medical supplies and to my left was a ledge with papers and shelves all the way from the ledge to the ceiling. A woman came in and put a blanket over me. It felt fresh from the dryer and I felt the shivers subside. The same lady produced what I thought was a vacuum cleaner. Instead if vacuuming with it she placed the end of the nozzle up under my blanket and it blew warm air up between my legs. It felt wonderful.
‘’This is to keep your body tempreture up because you get cold when under anaisthetic.’’ She left and a guy came in he put a needle in a vein in my left hand.
‘’Just a little scratch.’’ He said softly and that is exactly what I felt. It was at this point I got more scared. My heart started to pound and a person started swabbing my for head and placing little stickers there. This was to help them keep a track of how asleep I am and thatI stayed asleep so I would not wake up during the procedure. This was a thing they did not have back in 1994 when I was getting spinal surgery. I was not scared because of the needle in my hand. That was fine.
It was when about 4 people came in and pushed my bed through the second set of metal double doors. When they lifted me from the comfy bed and placed me on a stainless steel bed. ‘Just do not do anything.’’ I was told when I asked what I could do to help. ‘No, wait.’’ I started to say and I was about to burst into tears. The metal was cold all the way up and down my spine. I could feel the hardness of the metal under me and it became very apparent that this is what I would be lying on when the took a scalpel to my skin.
I heard a voice say, ‘I am just going to give you something to relax you.’’ There was a sudden cool rush through the vein in my hand that had a needle in it. Immediately I started to giggle. A surgical nurse lay some padded gauze under my right shoulder. That is probably to soak up all the blood that going to spill out of me. I thought and giggled some more. This whole situation was amusing me greatly. Free of fear entirely. The nurse was getting a great deal of side boob action as she tried to get the padded gauze to sit under my shoulder and spread out. I giggled and said to her in a stage whisper. ‘’ I do, indeed have exquisite breasts. But, not everyone needs to see them. It shall be our secret.’’ The nurse looked at me and replied kindly. ‘’Yes, it can be our secret.’’
They put the mask that would give me sleeping gas, over my face and tell me to breath in deep. The cool black water washes over my head and I am below its surface.
The water’s blackness becomes something I need to escape from and quickly. I am not sure why but my time to be under black water is over now and I need to get my head above the surface. If I can just get my head up the rest will follow freely. Everything will be all right. I am struggling to get my head above the black water. There is one word that I am struggling upwards for. If it was not for this word, I would stay under the water forever and make the murky depths my home. One word and I must get up and out of here in order to make sure it is still around. Finally the blackness is torn through and bright light spills into my eyes. I am awake and dry. I hurt all over. There is noise of other people waking up in pain. I hear people groaning. I hear people walking around and shouting at each other. Not shouting but everyone seems loud. Someone is holding my hand but not the person I wanted to see. The word that got me out of the black water was a name. It started with an L.
‘Hello there, sweetie.’’ The kind voiced person says, who is holding my hand.
‘’Where’s Leong?’’ I say. My throat hurts and my neck hurts. I feel sick. Someone in a bed near by vomits and groans again.
‘’Who is Leong?’’ The nurse asks.
‘’He plays guitar and I love him.’’ I reply.
My brain feels fuzzy and through the fuzz is a feeling of displeasure. I was promised he would be here when I woke up and he is not. I pull off the oxygen mask over my face in order to talk more easily and because it is uncomfortable.
I lay there and listen to my surroundings. The people walking around seem super human. How can they walk so swiftly? I feel heavy. My right side of my neck feels like it has been bludgeoned with a hammer. I want to look down and see the tube. My head hurts too much to move.
Later I will be told that I looked like I had been beaten up very badly. There is blood all over my face and the bandage over the permacath exit wound is bloody and there is wide ranging bruises coming out from under the bandage that spreads to the top of my right breast and wraps around and under my arm pit. There is Betadine all over my back. The permacath feels heavy and I wonder how I will ever get used to it.