Hospital memories part 5 – Flashbacks

Last week I was back in hospital for an emergency consultation. The doctor’s clinic happened to be next door to the intensive care ward where I spent the first 3 months of my 16 months in hospital.

It came to light there could be a problem with my heart and that I would need an ECG. The consultant asked if I wanted to go round to intensive care and have it done while I was there.

It had been six years since I was in that room and I was unsure how I would react to being back. I hesitantly agreed to get it out the way.

The large ward looked exactly as I remembered and the only empty bed space happened to be the very same bed I called home for so long.

I wasn’t expecting the reaction to be so powerful. So many memories came flooding back but there was one constant theme. It was the permanent circle of support that surrounded that bed. I have always been grateful to my family and my friends for dragging me through that time and while sitting looking at the empty bed, no machines, no tubes, no get well cards, I remembered just how unwavering that support had been.

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The flashbacks were so vivid, as if I was sitting watching them unfold before my eyes. Some amusing, some profound but all powerful and precious.

One of the first, and the most emotional, was the memory of a day I had forgotten. Or maybe just suppressed.

If you know the circumstances surrounding the accident then you will know that I was in Spain for a friends stag weekend. The wedding was only two weeks later. A wedding I was supposed to be an usher at, supposed to read a passage during the service, supposed to party long into the night with all my friends.

I remembered how I struggled through the day of the wedding. Everyone close to me was there together. I had to occupy my thoughts, try in vain to distract myself from what was going on elsewhere.

Unexpectedly, Ross and Lynsey turned up before going on their honeymoon with the DVD of the day. They sat beside me as we watched it on the laptop. I remember crying for the first time since the accident.

Liam, the best man, used his speech as an opportunity to highlight my absence. After some kind words an applause rippled through the room and I felt the love and support of all those important people in my life. Ross, giving the most important speech of his life, took the time to talk about how much I was missed. I could only look at him through tearful eyes and try to show my gratitude. I hadn’t regained my speech since the accident but I remember mouthing the words ‘thank you’. It was all I could manage and the gesture seemed insignificant compared to the appreciation I felt.

There were also plenty of fun times during the early months, fun times I had forgotten about and I sat grinning as the memories came back to me.

I had no neck movement for 4 or 5 weeks so when I had a visitor they sat at the side of the bed but I could only see them out of the corner of my eye. It was much more comfortable, and perfectly safe, to have them gently lift my head and turn my neck to the side so I was facing them.

Little did they know that this was perfectly comfortable and perfectly safe. It was the ideal situation for my twisted sense of humour to take the stage.

I talked them into ‘helping me out’ so they carefully lifted my head off the pillow and as they started to slowly twist my neck I would scream “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH”.

Their reactions were hilarious. To me anyway. I remember Ross in particular, jumping out of his chair he ran away, screaming for help at the top of his voice, flapping his arms in the air like a big girl. I was in stitches and when he eventually caught on he stopped running. Every nurse, patient and visitor was staring at him when he slowly turned round. Half smiling, half growling and red-faced. We still have a laugh about his reaction to my twisted prank but he was not alone in falling for that one.

The joke only worked once on each person but sitting next to that bed after so many years the memory was a welcome reminder of some of the great times we all shared in spite of the situation. I am sitting smiling right now, refreshing flashbacks lighting up otherwise dark days.

I remembered spending my 26th birthday in hospital. I remembered the days and weeks before it, worried about how I would cope with the contrast to my usual celebrations. I remembered wanting to ignore the date, just another day in hospital.

Most importantly I remembered the surprise and the shock when I was taken to the hospital conference room and 30 of my friends were waiting for me. Room decorated, mountains of food, music playing and some faces I had not seen since the accident. Yet again I was amazed by the love and support offered freely by those around me. They continued to exceed what I could have hoped for from a group of friends. Again, I am sitting smiling. Filled with pride and gratitude for how fortunate I have been.

One more important memory came back to mind.

One morning, in the early hours, I was lying in bed listening to music. I had been reflecting on my friendships and the strong bonds that had held them together over the years. In particular since the accident, those friends continued to surprise me with their loyalty and dedication. With my music on shuffle a song came on that seemed to have been written for that one moment in time. A song that captured how important those friendships were, how they were the foundation to all my positivity and hope. I listened to it 2 or 3 times before writing a long e-mail to those friends I owed so much to. I needed to let them know how I felt and I couldn’t wait, so many important things I wanted to say that I couldn’t risk forgetting.

It was probably the first time I had completely opened up and as I listened to the words again I sent the e-mail and cried. Lying in a dark hospital ward in tears, taken aback by this sudden realisation of how blessed I was.

I came home from that visit to hospital last week and I listened to the song. I cried again but more importantly, I was still smiling.

@Stevenceltic81

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34 Comments

  1. Jackie

    I am sitting at my desk, tears flooding down my face at this post (just as well my colleagues aren’t in yet – they’d think I was off my trolley!) It’s amazing how just being in one place can bring back so many memories (good & bad).

    Again, your friend’s sound like some of the most amazing people. I think you’re a very lucky guy to have them. To take time out from celebrating a wedding to actually remember you & the fact you weren’t there celebrating with them, was such a lovely touch. And for the bride & groom to take time to come to see you before the went off on their honeymoon was special.

    Your song choices are always just perfect. I hope you realise I spend most my life now walking round singing Time of My Life. Loved the song before, so that’s ok. If it was a song I didn’t like, i’d hate you for life! πŸ˜‰

    Once again, another rivetting post, Steven.

    Jackie x x

    ps. I notice another cheeky wee nipple shot went un-announced! πŸ˜‰

    • Morning Jackie.

      I hope you can help me understand this. Lots of people telling me that they were in tears after reading this post but I don’t think it is tearjerking, it certainly wasn’t intended to be. For me, this post is about positivity and only focuses on happy memories.

      What exactly is making you cry?

      I am very glad that I can connect with you, I just don’t understand this particular emotional response.

      Help me out and explain it but make sure and keep the nipple shot a secret, it was just for you πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Thank you very much for the great comment
      X

    • It’s amazing what we see, hear, feel, touch, smell, etc. if it’s been taken away. Even if we just receive a small sample again, the memories rushing back are often overwhelming. This is a nice post. Wishing you a wonderful week.

      • Thank you

        I completely agree with you. A lost ability or sense can seem to return for a fleeting moment until the brain reminds us it was only a memory or a dream. Remembering events gone by is a great way of keeping them alive.

        Thanks for the comment

  2. Maybe I’m reading it different than anyone else, but I laughed, for real and out loud at your poor friend that you felt strong enough about and knew well enough that you could torment him so. I don’t know for certain, but I would think after such a traumatic event, your friends would need to know you are ‘okay’ and the same Steven. I am sure that helped.

    But I can also imagine the tears this song would have brought to you.

    Another powerful post Steven. You truly manage to capture moments and feelings with your words.

    • You are spot on Colleen. My friends and family needed to know that I was still there, that I was still the same person. In this case laughter was sometimes the best medicine. I was aware of my responsibility to control the environment and the mood of others. The pranks certainly helped.

      I would have settled for a smile so I am more than happy with a laugh! πŸ™‚

      Thank you yet again for more insightful feedback. I can tell that you take the time to digest every post rather than just skimming over, I really do appreciate that.

      Steven

      • You’re welcome Steven. I know there are folks who comment and really seem to have grasped something in my writing. Those moments are golden, when you have a message, and someone ‘hears’ it.

        I am betting that you were the guiding light to help many others deal with your trauma, and you helped them heal right along with you.

        That speaks highly of your strength and your character. Which makes ‘reading you’ so enjoyable.

        πŸ™‚

      • That’s exactly why your replies are so valued Colleen. You always seem to ‘hear’ me.

        Gratitude for that πŸ™‚

      • πŸ™‚ Mutual happiness going on here.

  3. scottishpirate

    Haha! That’s the kind of joke I wish I had the guts to pull on people sometimes. I have a right below knee amputation, and my prosthetic leg is always a good practical joke tool!

    It’s so important to have family and friends that are so supportive and who remain close to you when you are in a difficult place. I know that I certainly wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have my family and friends to help me through the difficult times I have faced with my disability.

    A sense of humour is definitely something I admire in people. I like to think I have one, although if you ever speak to my family, they’ll probably not rate it very well!

    Awesome post as usual Steven!

    Slainte!

    Connor

    • I can imagine having a right laugh with the prospective leg, good that you can look on the lighter side at times.

      Hope you are well mate

  4. Hello *waves* been looking out for another post πŸ™‚
    Your friends are amazing, as are you! x

    • I was having a mini break Morag. I’m back!

      I agree, I am amazing *winks* πŸ™‚

      thanks pal

      • Im glad you’re back Mr Amazing! πŸ˜‰

  5. Chris

    Hi Steven, when I first saw your handle on this blog I thought you would be some rich kid who was heir to the Tetrapak fortune – but I now realise I might have read it wrong!

    You are a true inspiration and your strength of character is an example to us all. The number of friends that have stuck with you throughout your problems says a lot about you. Wicked sense of humour though and that bang in the head probably made you slightly insane into the bargain. It’s not all bad though – imagine if you were a Rangers (RIP) supporter!

    Always look on the bright side……

    Hail Hail
    Chris

    • I wish you were right first time round Chris!

      I have been very lucky with my friends, nearly lost a few due to that prank but they forgave me. I didn’t need that knock on the head to trigger the insanity, it’s been there since birth!
      Would maybe be better if I was a Rangers fan, would make my other disabilities seem insignificant haha.

      Thanks for the comment mate, I appreciate it

      Steven
      HH

  6. Steven, that song has always brought tears to my eyes, but listening to it now with your story in mind is really quite riveting. Your friends and family are blessed to have you, as are you to have them in your life. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.

    • I remember hearing the song when I was very young but hadn’t listened to it in years. Strange how it can take the right set of circumstances to properly appreciate a certain song.

      I am indeed lucky,

      Thanks as always Denise

  7. Got to say I laughed as well at the thought of your mate running about after your wind-up. Suspect he was tempted to do you a bit of mischief there & then !

    BTW you didn’t say how the tests went with your heart. Hope things are OK.

    • It did take a while for him to forgive me for that one!

      ECG test didn’t show anything so I am getting a 24-hour heart monitor test, hopefully get some answers. Thanks for asking buddy

      take care

  8. Trish Brown

    You are one bad ass prankster Steven I was in stitches when you were talking about friends visiting and you getting them to move your head and scaring the life out of them. I love reading your blogs and while at first I was in tears at them now I look forward to hearing all about your journey, your amazing family and friends. Your accident clearly changed your life and direction but by God it didn’t stifle who you are….it’s a joy to know you Steven you light up all our lives.

    Did the tests go okay…hope you don’t mind me asking.

    Your song – OMG that’s our song….how spooky πŸ™‚

    xxx

    • Still need to do some more tests Trish, my BP keeps dropping without any explanation so hopefully we can get to the bottom of it soon. Thanks for asking.

      Any special story behind why it is your song just because it’s great?

  9. Trish Brown

    Hopefully your BP gets sorted soon Steven keep us posted.

    Long story about the song I’ll try and precis it for you. When I first started going out with Andrew my Dad wasn’t that keen on him, he thought he was a “bit of a lad” blah blah. I had an Aunt and Uncle who were helping out a friend who had bought a hotel in Salen in Argyll and I went up for a wee holiday. Andrew wrongly thought my Dad has sent me up there to break us up so he decided he was going to drive all the way to Salen to rescue me. Back then if you were driving to Salen you had to get two ferries the Ballachulish and the Corran ferry. By the time he got to the last ferry it had done its last run and he had to pay the ferryman to take him across. It was hilarious he eventually got to the Hotel and walked into the bar all dressed up in a suit while all the locals where hanging about in their wellies and overalls. Bridge over troubled waters was played in the Hotel at some function and it became our song.

    We had a brilliant weekend and my Dad ended up loving him like his own son…..

    Sorry bit long winded but you did ask …. that’ll teach you πŸ™‚ xxx

    • Brilliant story. Fair play to Andrew, that’s what you call fighting for your woman!

      Take care Trish
      X

  10. I hope your BP is sorted soon. Don’t want you passing out!!

    My memory is pretty patchy for the first couple of years post accident, so it comes as a shock when I have a sudden gush of memories brought on by some trigger. Scary, overwhelming, and wonderful all at once. Glad to hear I’m not the only one…

    Nicely written. Thanks for sharing your memories.

    Cheryl

    • Good to hear from you Cheryl

      The BP seems to be getting better but still not right, more tests to do!

      I get the same kind of shock almost every morning when I wake after a dream. I’m never in my chair when I dream so depending on what I am up to it can be a bittersweet memory of times gone by.

      Thank you for the comment. I hope you are both doing well and glad you’re still poking your nose around.

      Steven

  11. Hi Steven

    Mind and memory are powerful things with positive and negative outcomes. As hard as it can be at times we need to focus on the positives, which is exactly what you did. I find it a massive help to know that many of my friends and family follow my blog and are behind me as a constant support. Our disabilities affect not only us but those around us too. They also have to adjust to our new way of life, which can be just as difficult for them but very often won’t show it. They will never know the appreciation we have for them, as it cannot be described by mere words. They are more important to us than they can imagine and a β€˜thank you’ just doesn’t come close to the gratitude we have for them.

    I hope that your blood pressure settles and they can identify the cause and quickly get it under control for you ☺

    Take care πŸ™‚

    • I know if it wasn’t for them I would be in a bad place. We have a shared responsibility to keep each other positive and that has been a crucial factor over the years. I can’t let myself slip because I couldn’t let them down. As you say, we owe them so much more than a ‘thank you’.

      BP seems to be levelling out. Still not right but definitely getting better. Thanks for asking.

      Hope you are keeping well and I’ll catch up with your latest goings-on soon.

  12. Hey Steven,
    This is a great post. I can relate to the flashbacks as well as your feelings towards your friends. (laughed so hard about you playing tricks on them in the hospital!) You remember me of my best friend when I was younger. He spend a lot of time in the hospital, but was always joking around and making everyone laugh. I used to call him my sun. Those are memories that are very dear to me.
    I can understand why people see this as a sad post also, though. You have been through a lot. But to read you can still smile and fight for your happiness is very inspiring!
    Love the song also.
    Thank you for sharing this!
    Lots of love,
    Patty

    • It’s my pleasure Patty, it was great to be reminded about these special times.

      I hope you can find some inspiration to use the song in your poetics, no pressure haha

      Steven
      X

      • πŸ™‚ O, I certainly can!
        No pressure, huh? Yeah, you are not curious at all… πŸ˜‰
        I am working on it right now. πŸ™‚

  13. declan

    Cheers for pulling on my heart strings pal.tears in my eyes reading that.glad you have good memories of the hospital to think about.we always assume there is no happiness in hospitals.maybe that is just me

  14. declan

    P.s. I’d say the screaming out in pain gag never gets old lol.belter

    • It’s the common perception but you control the atmosphere, there can be laughter and happy times.

      You’re right, there is always somebody new to play the old trick on. Same reaction every time! πŸ™‚

      Thanks Declan

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