Something was different that morning.
My routine was the same. I was woken up by a nurse. I had my usual blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature checks. I waited for, and had my brown roll for breakfast. Then my family arrived.
We slipped in to our now, day to day pattern of catching up on any new happenings. I gave them the ward update, and they kept me informed of the constant incoming of love, support and well wishes.
I put myself through the gruelling task of my physio exercises, giving it my all, beads of sweat being produced on my brow, and concentrating so hard that my teeth began to ache as they were being ground together. I laughed along with my family, and joined in on light hearted jokes, about facial expressions I was making, and unusual noises I was producing in my effort.
What was wrong?
I had another day of visitors planned. More friends and family to see. More people to sit with me and listen in shock and awe, as I repeat the story of Tuesday 18th October 2011. Three more of my closest friends were coming to see me. These were the friends that I'd been with at the pub quiz. Apart from my Mum and Sister, they were the last people to see the old me. The normal me. The unbroken me. They were with me the last time I drove my car, the last time I was able to walk unaided, without a limp and at a normal pace. While with them at the pub quiz on that Monday night, I will have casually tapped my fingers on the table in frustration at not knowing an answer to a question, I will have waved my hands about dramatically when an answer was on the tip of my tongue, and I will have high fived, enthusiastically when I found out that we'd gotten answers correct. I couldn't do any of these things any more... At least not with my left hand.
I felt very reflective that Sunday.
2 o'clock came. Visiting hours. My friends appeared in the door way to my room. Their faces mirrored those of all the other visitors I'd had- happy mouths, uncertain eyes. I greeted them with one armed hugs, and gratefully accepted the cards and magazines they had in tow. My Mum was the only family member I had with me at that time, as I had persuaded Dad and Chris to go home and watch the football.
It was derby day, Manchester United vs. Manchester City. They didn't want to leave me, but I forced them to go home, and get away from the hospital for a couple of hours. Every part of me ached at the thought of them being at home without me.
The visit was going well. I'd gone through Tuesdays events, with my three friends, and their reaction was just what I was used to now. Then one of my friends reminded me of something that had happened the Saturday prior to the stroke. It had been one of the three friends that had come to visit me, birthday party on the Saturday, and a few of us had been getting ready for it at my house. The friend that reminded me of Saturdays events, had come round, and the first thing she'd told me was that she'd been to see a psychic and the psychic had spoken about me. Now generally I am not a believer in all things supernatural, but I was interested to hear what had been said. Apparently the psychic had mentioned that a friend of the girl, who was training to be a hairdresser, was going to be in trouble. I was the only person she knew who was training to be a hairdresser... I was a little bit spooked by it, but it was soon forgotten... Until that Sunday, at visiting.
We were all slightly freaked out by it... Massive coincidence? I don't know...
Something in my body and mind felt different.
We continued in our discussions about the psychic, and trailed off in to different conversations; remembering how the pub quiz went, talking about how their weeks had been, discussing people who had been getting in contact to ask about me... Then there was a knock at the door.
A familiar nurse entered the room. I hadn't quite taken to this nurse, she was abrupt and extremely matter of fact- she reminded me of a strict school teacher. She didn't acknowledge any of my visitors, not even my Mum, she didn't even say, 'Hello,' to me. The words that came out of her mouth, made my stomach drop, 'Right, Rebecca, we have a problem.' 'We have a problem?' I thought. I continued to look at her without answering. 'You might not like this, but we're going to have to move you from this room,' she said. I could feel my cheeks burning, and the rims of my eyes starting to sting. 'Why?' I breathed. This was my safe haven, my own little room, away from the scary ward filled with very poorly, elderly people. The nurse explained, while half rolling her eyes, that they wanted to put another patient in my room and put me on a ward, and then she went on to say, 'You won't be allowed all these visitors, whenever you want on the ward.'
My whole body convulsed, and I burst in to tears. Hot streams of salty water were pouring from my eyes, as I begged with the nurse. I hated myself for sounding selfish, I didn't own the room, and I felt sad for the person who needed to be in a room of their own, but I felt safe in there. So much had changed around me, and it hadn't even been a week yet. That room was the only constant thing in my life at that time. I could hide away from the reality of my situation in there, and in that split second of the nurse telling me I had to move, everything did become real...
My Mum told the nurse that it wasn't fair to move me, as I would be surrounded by people, double and triple my age. There was no one on the ward at that time, that was any where near my age. Also being in a side room allowed immediate family members to be with me at all times through the day. They were keeping me going... Without them I was scared of myself.
My Mum washed and dressed me, she tied my hair in to pony tails and helped me brush my teeth, she took me to the toilet and helped me pull up and down my pants. I'd already surrendered my dignity to her, I couldn't go through all of that again with a stranger.
I couldn't do it, so I told the nurse, if I had to move then I wanted to discharge myself. I felt myself losing it. I was crumbling, and any little bit of strength that I thought I had, was thinning into nothing...