Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Living in 'interesting times'

I am out of hospital now, and on the road to complete recovery, I hope, and feeling very happy to be alive and at home.

I believe the Chinese have a curse which says "may you live in interesting times." My time in hospital was very 'interesting' in several ways, but the strangest was my reaction to a pain drug that I was given. The effects of the drug built up and up until it became obvious that I had an allergy to it.

When I was a child I liked the stories of Sax Rhomer, one of them was called The Breath of Allah which was about the making of a very special perfume, and to protect the secret recipe drugs were burnt so that anyone spying could not read what was written in the book. My hallucinations began in a similar way:
If I tried to read anything the words moved around the page rather like insects, but at least they did not leave the paper and fly around. I thought that this effect was because of relaxed eye muscles. I noticed that the curtains around the bed were flowing upwards, like a river. If I looked into my cup of water it boiled and frothed as if an alka seltzer had been dropped into it, but tasted normal. My sense of perspective altered and I could not tell if things were as close as my nose or across the ward.

Then I began to have hallucinations which were peopled, and thought that crowds of hospital employees were sleeping between the beds on the floor at night because they could not afford to pay rent.

Things went from bad to worse and I woke in the night believing that we had all undergone rendition, and were not in a real hospital but being tortured, and we would all be dead before the morning. I pulled out all my drips, catheters,oxygen and tubes and began shouting to the other patients to escape. A very kind nurse tried to reassure me, so I thought she was doomed as well. None of the other patients had taken any notice, and as I could not move from my bed, so thought there was nothing more I could do.

The next morning I was put on morphine and things quickly returned to 'normal'. Mas visited me in hospital every day, and Pete came often as well, but I was so happy when I was discharged and could go home again. I noticed on the drive home how it seemed to have become summer while I was in hospital. The gardens were full of laburnum in flower and hanging bunches of wisteria, the air was full of light and it seemed as if I had entered heaven. Then home and peace and quiet!

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