At eleven I asked Mary to call an out of hours doctor service in Navan. They couldn’t come but advised that I take more pain killers. I chewed those tablets right down and we went to bed. Getting a position to sleep in had been a hassle for almost a month, now it was impossible. I couldn’t lie on my back or left side. I needed a pillow between my knees to relieve some of the hurt in my groin, and now this back pain. The longer I lay the worse it got. I took painkillers several times that night. When the sun rose early the next morning, I watched its light grow stronger through the purple curtains. When the digits on the glowing red alarm clock changed from five fifty nine to six I could stand it no longer. I sat up on the side of the bed and put my feet on the floor. An involuntary cough broke through my clenched teeth. I felt phloem on my lips, or maybe or I knew, I put one hand to my mouth and pulled the curtains slightly apart with the other. I lowered my hand and looked. Blood.
‘Keep it cool’ I warned my self. “Mary?” Again, a little louder, “Mary”.
“I need an ambulance”. Suddenly bolt upright. Panic in the air. ‘Be cool’ I silently warned myself.
“Coughed up some blood, pain is worse”
As she went down stairs I put on a dressing gown and new slippers. I sat on the bottom step and listened to Mary on the phone. I felt a bit foolish, I thought maybe I was making an unnecessary fuss but I was still glad when the ambulance got there not long later. Two lads from the ambulance service helped me into the ambulance and strapped me into a seat behind the front passenger. One of them put an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose before we set off. Mary was to follow as soon as the kids were organised. She had called my parents and they were on their way to take the kids.
It wasn’t my first time in the back of an ambulance, mind you, it was the first time I wasn’t lying down in the back of an ambulance. Many years earlier, I’d worked as a motorcycle courier in Dublin. Back before speed cameras and points on your license. Crazy bad pressure to go quicker and quicker, not that the lads (and occasional lady) needed any encouragement, crazy mad, crazy bad S.O.Bs every last one, good old days, no fear. Ambulance trips went with the territory.
The ambulance arrived at accident and emergency in Blanchardstown fifteen minutes later. It was Blanchardstown because that was the closest hospital to Ashbourne. I felt better than I had before we set out and I thought that I’d get a check over and be home soon, but that was the oxygen talking. The guys wheeled me in and placed me on a trolley in a cubicle under the guidance of a nurse. Lying flat instantly reminded me that the pain had gone nowhere. The nurse helped me to sit up as she propped up the bed and added pillows. It was more comfortable, especially when I was sucking down the O2 again.
I’m not sure how long I was there, I think maybe a little over an hour, and then, without warning a big, mad, fuck you train hit me doing a thousand miles an hour. Hit me right in the chest.
‘You are going to die, right here, right now, if you don’t get off this fucking trolley, RIGHT FUCKING NOW’ my mind screamed at me. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t even groan. On a scale of one to ten I was light years away, stretched across the front of the fuck you train, racing away to black infinity. I don’t know how, don’t even remember how, but I did, I got my feet on the floor. Bite size pieces I guess. I shuffled forward and pulled back the curtain. Every movement was greeted with a cacophony of vicious, hateful pain. I saw a guy sitting on a chair six feet in front of me. He was cradling one arm with the other and was dressed like a builder. He looked at me as if I was some sort of shuffling maniac. My mouth was moving but no words came out. “Help me” I eventually whispered. He looked to his right, and immediately someone grabbed my arm. I let go of gravity trusting that someone would hold me up. Someone did.
They got me back on the trolley. Oxygen full blast. I could hear people talking but not their words. Every ounce of being in me fought against the pain. Imagine your heart beat, a double thud, the first greater, deeper than the second, the lesser thud. Heart racing, a hundred or more of the double thud beats per minute. The first thud, the grand thud, searing pain, sanity gone, desperate for
oblivion. The second thud, searing pain but less, sanity back, desperate to live. Get ready ….. Too late, the grand thud hits again and the fuck you train fucks me, again.
There was no happy place to let my mind run to. Any diversion of concentration from the job in hand was fatal and I knew it. I love movies, and in the movies people pass out when the pain is too much. It was one of those Hollywood certainties I carry around. But it only happens in Hollywood; I wanted to pass out so bad, but no such luck.
Time meant nothing to me, only that instant I was in existed. There was a past but there was no future. I saw faces, Leah, Judy, and Mary. I fought to hang on. Suddenly dad was there; I felt his hand on mine, heard his voice. “Dad the pain” I groaned. Then Mary, her hand on mine. Her voice frightened, I still couldn’t spare the energy to decipher words. She was scared and so was I.
The morphine kicked in. I was looking into a tunnel that stretched from my face for twelve inches or so. If you weren’t in that tunnel I couldn’t see you. Life existed beyond the tunnel, I could hear it, feel it, but I couldn’t see it. It did damn all for the pain. Time eked forward one excruciating heart beat after another. Sweat flowed from my shaven head like thunderstorm rain drops.
Everything got worse. My mind was lost. Pain overran every sense, every nerve. ‘I don’t want to die this way it’s not right’.
The next thing I remember, I was struggling to curl into a ball. Someone was trying to stop me.
“Martin you’ve got to lay still, the scan won’t work” the words meant nothing to me. Then I was in two places at once. I was trashing on the bed of a CT scanner. There were people trying to hold me still but I was also above, looking down. Below was pain and above was not. I’m not a religious person; I don’t know why I was looking down on myself. I do remember feeling very sad for the poor broken person I saw below and then I saw nothing at all.
The train was gone. The trolley was the only thing rolling. A nurse walked brusquely beside the trolley. Then a bed. It was dark outside. The sun had set long ago. I drifted off. My eyes snapped open, its coming. The fuck you train was back. Slam, riding the pain train again. A nurse at the bed, minutes later a doctor.
Awake again. Frightened, scared to breath. Where’s the pain? It was sure to come back. Through a nearby window I saw the suns weak first rays push the night back. One whole day, twenty four hours, hope, just a little and then none. For the third time, the fuck you train ran me over, immediate and intense, no warning and no build up. I wanted the pain to stop. All alone.
Taken from 'Ippy Ever After', my book, buy it http://www.ebookit.com/books/0000001858/Ippi-Ever-After.html