The day the Earth stood still continued...

Part 7

Being out of bed meant a lot to me. Even if it was just getting into the bedside chair, but anything to break the routine was invaluable. The biggest joy was visiting time. I was in hospital for a total of 52 days and there was just one whole day when I had no visitors at all. Sarah would visit at 2pm and again at 5.30/6pm. Mornings were for washing, physio, cleaning, dressing and watching the clock creep towards 2pm. After a while I had to have a calendar so as to plan visits from friends and family, as we were limited to four visitors at a time. I was brought books and magazines, which at first I found almost impossible to read as the text would dance around the page. DVDs and CDs were very welcome though as I was lent a portable DVD player so I could plug a pair of headphones in and watch a film or listen to music. Sarah brought me a portable radio in and I would often plug myself into the radio as soon as visitors left and. On occasion, only switching it off when I jolted myself awake in the small hours of the morning. How I came to look forward to the Shipping Forecast though with it’s calming, soothing associated music (Sailing By).

Whilst I was physically improving, I was still taking a large amount of medication (Paracetemol, Diazepam, Tramadol, Lisinopril, Warfarin, Cinnarizine, Lansoprazole, Macrogol) all of which had to be dissolved in water and injected into my feed tube. The warfarin was as a result of a clinical trial I agreed to take part in. The type of stroke I suffered (brainstem arterial burst) is quite rare and there’s still no agreed course of treatment. I was patient number 50. The study had already been running for five years at the time! I was randomized into one of two groups. One was given aspirin, one warfarin to see which group responded best to treatment over three months. As a consequence of being on the trial, I had to have my blood tested regularly (every day at first) for clotting, the results dictating how small or large a dose of warfarin I was given. I also had to undergo MRI scans.

Whether it was the medication or a symptom of the stroke but I also experienced some pretty strong hallucinations. I won’t say suffered as they never really scared me. I would ‘see’ phantom visitors at other peoples’ beds or phantom nurses or orderlies in the ward when there was no-one present. I also saw the high window above the bed opposite as a widescreen cinema screen on one occasion where a man crouched down on his haunches and watched a trail of ants carrying bits of food into a hole and bits of debris out of it. On one occasion I was convinced that the four of us in the bay had been out rallying in our beds across the desert as the beds were covered in red dust, beyond the window I could ‘see’ a vast expanse of red desert with scrubby little bushes dotted about.