Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Losing It

Sunday morning came, and I was five days in to inhabiting my new body.

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... 

Monday, 18 June 2012

8 months: Mum and Dad

As it is exactly 8 months today since I had my stroke, I've decided to do a special blog post, dedicated to my parents.
My Mum and Dad met when my Mum was 17 and my Dad was 19. They met in my Grandads pub where Mum worked behind the bar. Dad always tells the story of when he first saw Mum. He went to the pub with his older sister, my late Aunty Lynne, and told her, 'I'm going to marry that girl one day.' I guess for my Dad it was love at first sight... Mum however needed some convincing. My Dad had to ask her out 4 times before she agreed to go on a date with him. She was obviously playing hard to get, but Dad wasn't going to take no for an answer.
Mum and Dad got engaged two years after meeting... My Grandad took some convincing, but he loved my Dad and knew that him saying,'No,' wouldn't have made a difference anyway.
Their engagement wasn't a short one to say the least. They waited six years to get married, and in the same year they married, they got a mortgage and bought the house that we, as a family are still living in today.
My parents let themselves enjoy four years as a newly married couple in a new house before they decided to start trying for children. Mums pregnancy went without a hitch, and her labour lasted five hours. Then, on the 8th August 1990, Mum gave birth to their first child... Me.
I've been trouble from the start...
The second I entered the world, Mum and Dad knew there was something wrong.  The midwife had a student with her helping and observing with the delivery, and just after Mum had given birth, she saw the student give a startled, worried look to the senior midwife, and the senior midwife signal at her to straighten her face... Mum didn't even get a chance to hold me. The midwife's whisked me off for about 15 minutes and Mum and Dad weren't given an explanation why. They had however, noticed a massive dark mark on my back. A consultant came back to the delivery suite with me, and as I was handed to my Dad, my parents were told by the consultant that he was almost sure this mark on my back didn't mean I had spina bifida, they thought it was just a very large mole.
So apart from the massive mole on my back I was otherwise a normal, happy, healthy new born. Mum took me home after spending the recommended five days in hospital, and we began our lives as a new family.
It was decided that I would have this mole, that covered half of my back, removed before I went to primary school, but until then I would have regular check ups with a consultant, as the mole wasn't normal to say the least.
When I was around 20 months old, I went to a consultation appointment, and when the Dr looked at my huge mole, he wasn't happy with what he saw. The mole had gone red round the edges, so he decided there and then that they wouldn't wait to remove it, but get it removed immediately.
They surgeons removed the mole and conducted a skin graft by taking layers of skin from the left cheek of my bottom and placing it on where the mole had been removed. A sponge was then sewn on to the affected area to allow the skin to take to its new home. I spent three weeks in The Duchess of York Children's Hospital. My Mum slept in a bed next to my hospital cot, and Dad came to spend the evening with us, every day, straight after work.
I was discharged from hospital, and sent home, with the instructions to come back in a week to have the sponge removed from my back. Things didn't go too smoothly though. After about four or five days my back started to smell of rotting flesh, and Mum and Dad knew that something wasn't right. I was taken back to hospital to have the sponge removed, and a surgery that should have taken 20 minutes, actually took around 2 hours. For those 2 hours my Mum and Dad were left in the dark, not knowing what was going on, until the surgeon came out to speak to them. He told them that the first skin graft had broken down with infection and they had to do the whole procedure all over again. I had a second skin graft; this time, skin was taken from my left upper thigh, and new sponge was sewn on. Mum spent further four weeks in hospital with me, as a very poorly baby.
On my second discharge from the children's hospital, Mum and Dad were given the news that I'd had cancer. A cancer that is very rare for a 20 month old to have.
The Giant Hairy Mole on my back had actually turned malignant, and there fore I'd had a malignant melanoma. The surgeons, however, were happy that they had removed all of the skin cancer, and didn't believe I needed any further treatment, other than regular check ups. I had to wear special vests for a few years to help my skin graft heal properly, and then a few years after that I was given the all clear. I now live with a scar on my back, the size of a side plate.
So, as I said... Trouble from the start.
I've told this story, to help explain how amazing my parents are, and what they've had to go through.
With me as a child, they haven't had it easy. But through it all, their love for each other has never wavered. Even after 33 years together, they're still crazy in love with each other. Their love is the realest love I know. They've had to deal with so much as parents, but never let it affect them as a couple.

Dad, you are my hero. My superman. You are so funny and so witty, and know how to make light of any situation. You are one of the few people who knows how to make me laugh uncontrollably , the sort of laugh that hurts.  You are so loyal and protective to the people you love, especially to Mum, Anna and me; your girls. You are the hardest working person I know, yet you still manage to come home from work after a twelve hour day and ask Mum what jobs need doing. You love us so unconditionally, no matter what, through and through, a wonderful, utterly devoted husband to Mum, and Dad to me and Anna. You're the perfect man, Dad.
Mum, you're simply amazing. My best friend. You are the strongest woman I know. I cannot put in to words  how much you mean to me. You are my idol. You do everything for everyone and anyone, without ever complaining. You always have the answer to any problem. You are selfless and kind. One in a million.

My aim in life is for Chris and I, to forever be as happy as you both are... If we are, then we'll be the luckiest people in the world.
I love you Mum and Dad,

Friday, 15 June 2012


So, Saturday morning came.
There was a different feel to the hospital this morning. It seemed quieter, calmer, less hectic...The weekend had arrived.  There were different faces floating from room to ward, faces I didn't recognise... The weekend staff were now in charge.
I was nervous as I lay in my hospital bed that morning. Today was going to be a day of visitors, and so far I had only been in the company of my immediate family and the hospital staff. What would I talk about with my friends and family? Should I act normal? What questions would they ask? If I'm honest I was starting to go back on my decision. Did I really want to see people yet? Maybe I wasn't ready.
Mum, on the other hand, had different ideas about this situation. She would not let me change my mind, and was determined I was going to have visitors... What Mum says, goes!
First things first, though, I had to do my physio exercises. I lay on my bed, and attempted to do the thrusting exercise while Mum, Dad, Anna and Chris took it in turns to help me. I was also given an exercise where I had to lift my arm as high as possible, ten times. This exercise, like the others, did not go so well. It took me half an hour to reach the tenth arm lift, and to be honest, it was always more of a hover than a lift. It was so frustrating. I just wanted to scream at my arm and leg, 'Just work, God damn it!' I had to keep a cool head though. I could just see the looks on the faces of my loved ones as I was doing my exercises, smiles full of encouragement, eyes full of dismay. I didn't want to make things harder for them. They were all being so fantastic, so upbeat and positive while in my company, yet I know if I was in their shoes, I couldn't have been quite so courageous.
Visiting hours were looming, and there was a knot growing tighter in the pit of my stomach. I kept telling myself not to be so stupid. These were my friends, and family, people I'd known forever. So why was I scared of seeing them. Why did I feel embarrassed at the thought of having to talk about what had happened and what was going on? Come on Bec, get a grip!

I heard the bell to the ward ring... Visitors were upon us. My heart leapt, as I heard voices growing louder. Then I saw friendly, familiar faces appear from behind the nurses station. They were carrying cards, and flowers and magazines, yet I could tell I wasn't the only one who was nervous. Three of my closest friends had come to see me. They approached me with caution, not knowing what to do. They all hugged me, not really knowing how to go about it, and then sat down on chairs that Dad and Chris had gone to collect for them. At first no one knew where to start... Who should talk first? I asked them how they were and what they'd been up to, and then one of my friends let out a laugh, 'Stop asking about us, and tell us about you Bec!'. They didn't want to talk about them, they wanted to talk about me. They explained to me that they had been nervous to see me as they didn't know what to expect. They didn't know what I was going to look like, or whether I'd be able to hold a conversation properly. Like I've explained previously, a lot of my close family and friends had really been left in the dark. They'd only been engaged in snippets of conversation with Mum, Anna, Dad and Chris, and not many people knew exactly what the situation was.
So I told them exactly what happened, my story from waking up on the Tuesday morning. They didn't really know what to say or do. I didn't expect them to either, because I still didn't know what to say about it.   These friends are in their twenties, just like me, yet they got to walk out of that hospital room and get on with their every day lives. These friends are friends that I used to get glammed up with and go out partying in my heels... now they were visiting me while I was in my dressing gown and slippers.
I loved that they had come to see me, and they, just like my family kept big smiles on their faces, spoke to me as if we were just having a gossip in my front room, and made me laugh, more than I had all week, and although the feeling of nervousness had long surpassed, I now hated myself for feeling envious of my friends. They stayed for around two to three hours, and we talked about people we knew, and read through magazines, discussing different celebrity related articles. They chatted to Mum, Dad, Anna and Chris, and were filled in on the goings on of the ward, but soon enough, it was time for them to leave. They all kissed me good bye and told me they'd be back another day, as long as I was up to it, they hugged my family, and told them to keep them updated and then I watched them go. I would have given anything to have walked out of the ward with them. But I was trapped. Trapped in ward E1 and trapped in my body.
After my visit I was tired, and fed up. There had been moments when my friends had visited, where I felt happy, even content... but those moments, and those feelings didn't last long. But I had to suck it up, curve my lips in to a convincing smile, and await my next set of company.

After a couple more guest appearances from family members, of whom none came empty handed, (I had already racked up around 20 magazines, 3 new pairs of pyjamas, food packages galore, and tons of cards and well wishes.) We were five once again. Yet soon it was time for them to leave. They always stayed till around 9.30pm/10.00pm and then they left to go home, and leave me to try and sleep.
But even though I'd had a full day of family and friends coming to see me, and I was so exhausted, I did not want them to leave that night. I didn't want to say good bye. The thought of them leaving me gave me the feeling where it seems as though your heart could drop through your stomach. I didn't want to be by myself. I wanted to cling on to my Mum and Dad and plead with them not to leave me, beg them to stay and cuddle me to sleep, but I couldn't be that cruel to them.
I said good bye, and made out I was excited to see more of my friends and family the next day. I kissed the four of them, and gritted my back teeth together as I waved them off.
My brain felt as though it was drowning in emotions.
I put in the head phones, to my sisters ipod, shut my eyes, and begged for the tears not to come.
I fell asleep listening to the voice of Stephen Fry reading the story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I'd never wanted a magic wand more, than I did at that time.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Turning Purple

Here we go again.
My second physio session.
This time, I knew they meant business. There was that oh so familiar knock at the door, and two cheesy grins staring back at me, as I sat in my hospital chair... almost ready and raring.
I'd slept better than I had the previous nights as I was getting used to my surroundings, and I had the urge within me to just get on with today's session.  So off we went.
The three of us slowly walked out of my room and towards physio room. I'd not been in this room yet, so I was slightly intrigued. To get there we had to walk through the communal area of the ward, where, sat on chairs that were set in a semi circle were other patients. I smiled at them, some smiled back, and some just stared through me, I knew they weren't being ignorant, so I continued to smile until they were no longer in sight. The physio room was bright and airy, with 4 hospital beds lined up against the back wall, with enough space between each, for them to claim their own territory.  Beyond the room, through glass doors, there was a small, pretty looking garden. It looked so peaceful out there.  As it was October you could see a breeze blowing through browning leaves; leaves that were threatening to break free from their branch and fall to the ground, at any moment.There was a bench, set against a wall, slightly weathered, but still sturdy looking, and a table that had seen off it's best days.  A path lead through the garden, and reached a gate, with an old fashioned, black, knocker handle. I'll never forget seeing that modest, little garden. It was friendly and soft and inviting, such a contrast to the harsh, sterilised environment of the rest of the hospital.
After admiring the world beyond the ward, I focused again, on the big task of the day. I was lead to the bed on the far left, helped on to it, and was told to lie down, while the curtains were drawn around us. The senior physio allowed the student to lead today's session. I smiled at him encouragingly... he looked more nervous than I was.
Shakily, he began to go through what the aims of the session were, and thankfully, the longer he spoke for, the more confident he became.
So, as it was, the aim of the session was to, while lying down, attempt to bring my knees up, so my feet were flat on the the bed, and to raise my hips in a sort of thrusting action... This was very difficult. My right side was cooperating, but my left side didn't want to play. The student physio was having to hold my knees together to stop my left one from falling, and we attempted 'the thrust' about ten times. Both physio's had to keep telling me to remember to breathe, as, with the sheer concentration , I was slowly turning purple according to them. After a five minute rest, while I listened to the senior physio quiz the student on the importance and benefits of the exercise we had just done, (she was a task master,) I was helped on to the chair next to the bed. The idea of the next exercise was to practise standing from a seated position, and sitting from a standing position. Never in a million years did I think I would ever find this task difficult! Why should I find it difficult, you learn to stand and sit from the age of one... I'm 21.  When seated I was told I had to position my feet correctly, as I had adopted the tendency to place my feet forward from the chair so that I felt I had more stability. The correct and more natural way to position my feet, was to place my heels slightly under the chair, feet not too close together, so that I got a good, steady push up... It didn't feel good and steady to me. It didn't go very smoothly. I had no strength in my left side, and I was relying so heavily on my right side to keep me stable... But it was a start, and they were pleased with me. The same went for sitting from a stand. I sort of fell in to the chair every time, and there was no skill or control involved at all. I felt my cheeks getting hot. I was embarrassed. I had the mind of a 21 year old and the body of a pensioner. I attempted to gulp back emotion that felt like it was rising from a stone in my chest to my brimming eyes.  Luckily the physio's were discussing, once again, the importance and benefits of the exercise so I was able to take some deep breaths and calm myself down, without the awkwardness of them confronting my sadness.
The student physio could have only been my age, so why was his body working and mine wasn't? I was glad when the session was drawn to an end. I can't deny that my mood had dropped, and I wasn't feeling so determined any more. I didn't let this show of course, I didn't want to make the physio's feel uncomfortable, it wasn't their fault, it was my bodies fault. I just wanted to get back to my room and back to my Mum.
Before I was walked back out of the physio room, I was handed a list of exercises I was expected to do on my own with the help of my family. As the weekend was looming I wouldn't be seeing the physio's for two days and they were shockingly strict when telling me to go through every exercise on the sheet. I was told I could spread out when I did the exercises so that I had enough rest time between each of them... This seemed fair.
Finally I was escorted slowly back to my room, only to be greeted by a small, smiley woman , dressed in green... What now?
I smiled at her, through slightly gritted teeth, as she brightly said to me in a sing-song voice, 'Hello, Rebecca!' She had a quick chat, in passing, with the physio's while they watched me fall in to my seat, and then the master and her apprentice left the room leaving kind goodbye's behind them.
Then I was face to face with the new woman, who I soon found out was an Occupational Therapist. She was a very kind lady, not sickly sweet and over the top kind, but a kindness that was pure and believable. I took to her very quickly. I liked her. So as the OT explained to me, she was there to help me with my arm and hand movement, and also to work on my fine finger movement. She had brought with her a couple of games, one that was called Labyrinth which involved getting a marble from A to B, by using my fingers to control the wobbly board that the marble was on. She also brought with her a small jigsaw, and some cups to practise pouring water, testing my grasp and wrist mobility.  She stayed with me for about 20 minutes and helped me play on the Labyrinth game, and then left saying she would see me after the weekend, and that she wanted to hear that I'd been doing really well on the Labyrinth. I didn't mind that she was talking to me as if I was a lot younger than 21. She was friendly, and warm and she seemed to exude a feeling of calmness.
When she left, a wave of exhaustion attacked my mind and body.  It was nearly lunch time, but the tiredness was so extreme I felt sick. The rest of that day was a copycat of all of the other afternoons that I'd spent on the ward. Snoozing on and off, surrounded by my family who were busying themselves, in their own individual ways...
It was later that night that I decided I was ready to start seeing people, and let my Mum and Chris reply to people who had kept asking when they could come and visit. It wasn't fair to keep my friends and family waiting and worrying any longer. Something in me told me I was strong enough to face the questions... And so, when falling asleep that night, I knew the day ahead of me wasn't going to be easy, but there was fizzing of confidence inside me that was ready to deal with it... Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Exit Sign

Early afternoon, that same day...
Mum had arranged my already growing 'Get well soon' card collection along the window sill next to my bed, and the colourful well wishes really did brighten up the boring hospital room.
She had spoken to some of the family and close family friends letting them know what had happened, and they all shared the same shocked reaction, she also allowed my Granny to share the task of spreading the word, as no matter how many times Mum told the story, it wasn't getting any easier. My mobile phones inbox was full to the brim with texts asking, 'What had happened?' 'Why was I in hospital?' 'Was it true?' Although I was extremely grateful that people were being so caring and concerned, I didn't feel ready to talk to any body just yet, I was still in shock, and none if it made any sense to me. So Chris took over in dealing with the answering of questions, and replying to the sympathy messages I was receiving from my friends and acquaintances.
I'd hoped people didn't think I was being rude, but I'd asked, Mum, Dad, Anna and Chris to put people off from coming to visit me just for a couple of days. I didn't have the energy to entertain people's questioning face to face while keeping my spirits unnaturally, upbeat.  My immediate family and I needed to be able to just be with each other, and I needed time to gain some sort of acceptance to what had happened.

There was a knock at the door. It was about 2pm. A man, with a thick moustache, a protruding pot belly, and small, gold, hoop earring surrounding his left earlobe was stood at the door with a wheel chair... The porter was here. 'Rebecca? I'm here to take you for your MRI scan,' he said with a well practised smile spreading from ear-with-earring to ear. Mum and Dad walked me from my bed, as they'd been told to, and helped me in to the wheel chair.
We exited Ward E1 and glided through the cold corridors of the hospital. My mum was engaged in small talk with the porter, while I sat silently and listened to them. I watched as the hustle and bustle of the hospital passed me by. I smiled at other patients in wheelchairs as they smiled at me, all of us sharing some sort of empathy with one another. Then soon enough we had reached our destination. The porter signed me in with the receptionist and left us saying he would come back for us when the scan was finished. So Mum wheeled me to the waiting area, where there was just one other person waiting. He was a frail looking old man wearing a hospital gown with a blanket covering his knees.  He said, 'Hello,' to us and told us this was his second time in, 'One of these machines.' The lovely old man told me I had nothing to worry about, and that other than the machine being very noisy, there was nothing to it, other than lying down. If I'm honest, it was a comfort speaking to the dear old man, if he wasn't scared then why should I be?
After a while a technician came to collect the old man, and he waved at me and Mum, as he was wheeled in to the room to have his scan. For a short time it was just us two sat in the waiting room. Where we were sat was situated facing a door, and above the door was the word, 'Exit,' I remember joking to my mum that while we were alone and no one was watching, we should head through the exit door and never look back. If only...
A nurse came to join us where we were sitting, and told us her patient was currently in the scanner (the old man.) She got talking to my mum, and I occasionally joined in, but due to tiredness I couldn't give the nurse my full attention. She couldn't believe what my mum was telling her, 'A stroke, at 21?' she gasped. I was getting used to peoples reaction. They continued to talk until the friendly, old man was back in our company. Both of them wished us good luck and bid us farewell, and then it was my turn...
I asked if my mum was allowed to come in with me, but she wasn't, so I was going solo. The same technician wheeled me back wards in to the room, and I practised a feeble smile, as my mum gave me an encouraging look.
The room I entered was quite a strange sight. The light fittings on the walls were painted gold and the bulbs inside were glowing dimly. The walls were decorated in an oriental style with the image of a landscape creeping across the walls. Juxtaposed to the delicate, slightly over-the-top d├ęcor, there it was, slap bang in the middle of the room, a giant, intimidating machine, cold, grey and extremely uninviting.
I was helped on to the bed that slides in to the scanner and mimicking my experience with the CT scan, and was told that I had to lie extremely still.  The technician told me that the machine was going to be very loud when it was scanning me, and he gave me some headphones to put on and asked what radio station I would like on, and I requested Radio 1. Probably sensing my anxiety, he gently rested his hand on mine, and told me that it would be over in 15 minutes, and that I would be fine. Then I entered the tunnel, and I listened as the scanner began to start working.
Even with headphones on, I could barely hear the radio presenter Greg James commentate his show, over the clashing and banging of the machine. Every so often the noise would settle down for a few seconds, and then all of a sudden and almighty sound would make me nearly jump out of my skin. Keeping as still as possible was far more of a challenge than I anticipated.
Lying there I once again felt alone. I thought about my Mum sat only feet away outside the room, worried out of her mind. My Dad and Sister, sat waiting in my hospital room, doing their best to hold it together for Mum, and trying to act as normal as possible, while still dealing with it themselves. Then Chris, this was his final year at uni, he had exams, and coursework, he didn't need this on top of the pressure of finals. My Gran and the rest of the family, spreading the word and taking the pressure off my Mum, and my fantastic, loyal friends, being kept in the dark and not really understanding what was going on, but still sending their love and support my way. They were amazing. They are amazing. But when it came down to it, I was on my own. My body had done this to me, no one else... Me. They couldn't do anything to fix me, no matter how much they wanted to. This was my fight, a fight against my own body, and I didn't know whether I was going to win. Lying there, reflecting, whilst the noise of the MRI scan filled my ears, a feeling of deep, overwhelming sadness washed over me. My heart ached as I thought about how my own body had turned against me, and I felt my eyes and cheeks begin to burn, and I gritted my teeth to stop the tears from flowing out.

The noise halted, and I listened to the whirring of the machine as it began to switch itself off. Slowly the bed I was lying on departed from the confined tunnel and I grinned at the technician as he removed the headphones from my ears and helped me back in to the wheel chair. He pushed me out of the oriental inspired room and back into the waiting room, where the bright, fluorescent lighting gave me a slight squint. Mum and the familiar porter greeted me, and I was glad to be separated from my own, lonely company.
I grabbed Mums hand and she squeezed it, amazingly feeling instantly calmer, and off we went, straight through the doors under the exit sign that I had previously been admiring... yet I wasn't going anywhere, I wasn't escaping. I was going back to Ward E1...