Highland Hospital Medical Records 08.22.17:
HPI 31 yo healthy female presents as high-level trauma activation after high-speed motorcycle accident with multiple injuries including gaping perineal laceration and C1 fracture. Orthopedics is consulted for management of multiple fractures, including pelvic ring fracture, inferior ramus fracture and pubic symphysis disruption, left humeral head tuberosity fracture and left shoulder dislocation, as well as left distal radius fracture. Laparotomy to be performed in OR with gynaecology and urology present.
I open my eyes.
Mat is here, and we are in a room full of white and beeping. There is a lady. She has short hair and is making noise. I pick up loose fragments… I have been in the Operating Room for 12 hours… They have given me a colostomy… I will need more surgeries… They have given me a colostomy… I have broken my neck… They have given me a colostomy… They don’t know if I will need it forever.
Forever. I fixate on the word. My head is fog.
I wake again. My throat hurts. Mat is still here. I am thirsty. I turn to him and try to speak but can only release a whisper of air. My neck feels like it is full, like something is stuck in it. I can’t breathe. I panic. I have so much to say. I try to tell him things, all the things, but I can’t make any noise.
“It’s your breathing tubes, baby”. I feel my eyes widen, and try again to say something, consumed by frustration when the words do not form.
“You just need to have them in overnight, that’s all. Tell me what you want. Act it out”.
His hair is ruffled, his eyes are tired and red, but he is smiling at me. As always. I don’t know how much time has passed, how long he has been here, at my bedside.
My eyes fill with water. I sleep again.
The next day is a blur of blue and green. Doctors and nurses come in and out of my room, always with something important to say, something important to do. I remember very little. Thoughts flow in and out of my head like sand, lingering for only a few seconds. I am in intensive care (ICU), I know that much. I don’t know what has happened to my body, but it is swollen, bloated, and no longer feels like it belongs to me. I think I still have a face, though. So that’s good.
Mat tells me that my mum is coming. I am relieved, but also scared. I wonder whether I can manage the pain I have caused her, caused my whole family in being here. I wonder if I can take that on. My life here in San Francisco, with Mat, is a bubble, a blissful bubble, but a bubble nonetheless. It will feel more real, her being here; it will connect this chapter with my past, with everything that brought me to this moment. It will thread everything onto one needle and bring me together, in my entirety. And then, this will all be real. Too real.
I practice what I will say when she arrives, certain that she is doing the same thing.
The time disappears to grogginess, ecstasy and pain.
“Lucy Feltham, what have you been up to,” mum says, breezing through the door the following afternoon, composed, orderly, and not looking remotely like someone who has just sat on a plane for 12 hours. Or someone who has just walked into her daughters intensive care room, with little idea of what to expect.
She puts her bags on the floor and walks straight over to me.
“Oh mum, don’t say that. It wasn’t my fault,” I whine.
Not quite the stoic, dignified response I had planned in my head. But none of that matters anymore. She is here. She is here and I am alive. I am safe.
“You know I’m going to be ok, don’t you?” I say.
“I know that,” she says, her eyes revealing everything, for just a fraction of a second, as she bends down to kiss me on the forehead.