Vivid hallucinations, international discussions, food glorious food
and battling wild rapids .
Being in intensive care is not what you might call a fun experience. High emotion and worry oozes from the walls and you can see the stress on the face of every nurse, doctor and family member who walks through the heavy white doors.
Following previous procedures I had been quickly moved from the ICU, leaving me not much time to look around the ward.
The first room that I occupied following my procedure was the furthest from the normal entrance/exit to the intensive care unit, adjacent to the door that lead to the surgical theatres.
In the couple of days I spent in that room after being raised to full consciousness I became painfully aware of the absence of a TV. This was because, to quote one of my nurses, “People in this ward tend not to have much use for one of those devices”.
No argument for that then and soon enough I was moved further up the ward. This room was also bereft of a TV but fortunately, now that many of the machines I had been hooked up to were no longer needed, there were some free outlets for me to plug in my laptop.
This at least meant that my parents could go out and buy some movies for me to watch, such as the previously mentioned outstanding choice of The Amazing Spider-Man.
A friend who came by to visit one time even brought me a hard drive full of completely legally acquired films to help fill the time between checks, dialysis and sleep.
Pink Rabbits Dancing On The Ceiling
Moving up the ward wasn’t just a metaphorical sign of my condition improving, it was a physical shift towards leaving the ICU. Knowing that I was literally heading in the right direction did a lot to help keep my mind from wandering down pathways that lead to rather unpleasant places.
One day, whilst perched on my bed thinking about all the money I was going to save on leg wax, the door into my room swished open and a tall man with a charming smile and a very calming voice entered and introduced himself.
“Hello David, I`m Dr Psychologist.”
Obviously that wasn’t actually his name but I’ve decided to avoid using the names of any medical staff who were involved in my recovery, though that may become challenging later on when I introduce some new characters.
This wasn’t actually the first time he had visited me, in fact he had been to see me several times while I was in a coma and had already spoken with my family as to any help that they themselves might need.
I wasn’t the only person going through all of this.
We spoke of many things during that first visit, a kind of get to know each other session, to figure out how I felt about letting him help me.
He told me straight that at some point during the next week or so I would be hit with the first “Oh god what has happened to me” moment and when that happened he would be there, I just had to ask for him.
The final thing he asked during that first meeting was if I was having any hallucinations. Some of the medication I was being given was very powerful and it was a possible side effect.
I told him that earlier that day I had seen a group of pink rabbits dancing around on the ceiling. I was worried he would think I was being stupid but he didn’t seem at all phased. In fact he said that it was possible that these hallucinations could be influenced by exterior suggestion.
Then, just before he left the room he turned to me, winked and said, “Think of Kylie Minogue and see what happens”.
Plenty To Chew On
Another significant thing that came about not long after moving to my new room was food or rather, my inability to consume any. It still amuses me to think of this because it’s absolutely not something I imagine most people would consider when coming round from a coma.
I hadn’t physically eaten anything in over seven days by this point, I was still being fed through a tube even after waking up.
I don’t remember what exactly was first on my menu, only that it was very light and soft and even then it was difficult to get back into the swing of masticating.
The next step was to remove the feeding tube, something I was desperate for them to carry out, as whenever they fed me it made me sick. The nurses were reluctant to remove it just like that and even suggested my problem was psychosomatic.
That evening, without my knowledge and to try to prove their point, one of the nurses activated the feeding tube.
I however, proved my point by projectile vomiting all over my fresh new bedding.
So that was that, decision made, as I had proved I could now swallow successfully the nurses were happy to remove the feeder.
Being able to eat by myself was also a big deal in the eyes of the people looking after me and along with the fact that my recovery was moving along nicely it was all enough for them to decide my time in the ICU was at an end.
Next stop, The Pod…
Knocking Down The Barriers
I find it amusing and also really quite heartwarming that through this lockdown many of us have been given the opportunity to come together in new ways.
Most of my wife’s family live halfway across the world in Nepal. This sheer distance, along with the time zone issue could very easily make it difficult to have any opportunity to better get to know my new family.
However, through the miracle of Zoom, we have been able to profitably utilise this time.
I mentioned in my last post that my new uncle has been teaching me Nepali every week.
Going the other way, for the past couple of months my brother in law and I have been speaking most evenings in order to help him improve his English and enable him to build his confidence using the language. As well as having a (very informal) lesson we also take the time to chat, catch up and share stories.
It has given me and two people who live over four and a half thousand miles away from me the opportunity to learn from and better get to know each other.
Rollin’ On The River
There is a river called The Oich which runs through the middle of our small village. A number of local walks take you through the forests and along the banks of this very beautiful and mostly quite tame river.
Anyone walking along those paths a week ago however would have been greeted with the sight of not just the regular river birds but also a grey raft containing three people and a one legged guy floating in the water behind them.
We had decided that it would be a good idea to make the most of “Summer Day” here in the highlands. So with a raft borrowed from our friend across the road we made our way down to the river.
The heat that day was a few steps above what we’re used to in this part of the world and the first thing we all did on the river was to fill our helmets with water and pour it over our heads (or in my case over Bipa’s head because I would have been a fool to miss the opportunity).
We took it slowly and as it is a calm river only had to navigate two rapids that threatened to deposit us in the drink. I spent about half the trip lying on my back in the river, holding onto the raft with just one hand. It was all very relaxing until I shifted too far the wrong way and started to roll…
After the appropriate amount of laughing and with my spluttering and flapping about, Dad decided to show Bipa the approved method to pull someone into the raft. She very quickly got the hang of it, although the first time I thought she was going to throw me right back in over the other side.
Mum met up with us at Loch Ness and we all headed home to dry off before snoozing for the rest of the day.
Rafting is hard work…
Birthdays, Storms and Other Excuses
It was my birthday three days ago (woohoo). I turned twenty five and as someone who is now one quarter of the way to one hundred my family decided it was time to start presenting me with more mature gifts.
A wallet, Lego Taj Mahal and Titanic building sets, some T-shirts (one of which has “Bipa is my world” bleached across the chest), the entire collection of Horrible Histories books and a beautiful painting on a slate tile of Bipa and me on our wedding day,
Due to the fact that I was busy celebrating I though it would be okay to take a break from my blog and publish it one day late.
That plan was completely fine until the next morning when I woke up without any internet connection. There had been a large thunder storm during the night which I’m guessing may have been a factor as to why I am only now, three days later, able to connect my laptop to the WiFi.
There actually are no other excuses but I quite liked the way that header read when I wrote it.
Oh dear, a misleading title on the internet?
Hope I`m not setting a precedent here.
Quicker To Write
I’ve been testing the waters by writing some shorter pieces, such as the one about British Heart Foundation events I published a few days ago.
I enjoyed that one and am currently working on another short post which may turn into a recurring series.
This means that on the weeks where I can’t quite manage to finish a full post I will hopefully be able to publish to tide you over.
It also means that some weeks I might just put out two posts.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed this post and are finding what I have to say interesting. If you have any feedback, drop it in the comments below.
- You can’t always tell what kind of help you need.
I hadn’t even considered the fact that I might want to speak to a psychologist before one came into my room. I had so many other things to think about that if it had been left to me to ask for help it probably would have taken years.
- Take advantage of what’s happening.
I can’t stress enough how happy I am to have opportunity to get to know members of my new family better. If we were all busy with regular day to day life then chances to talk would be few and far between.
When the road it tough, small things like sharing a laugh with someone half the world away can go a long way to easing the path.
- When someone has recently had a birthday, it’s good manners to share their blog.
Obligatory Blog Quote
It’s actually quite hard to find an appropriate quote for every blog post so I’ve just decided to be silly with it.Me (to my Mum)