After waking up from the coma, one would have thought that a doctor would have explained, until I fully understood, exactly what had happened to me and more importantly what my new circumstances were.
”Because x happened it caused x and y, resulting in x to the y. We know that that part of the brain is responsible for x, y and z, and some things we aren’t quite sure of.”
Sadly, that was not the case.
If it was, and I was told that, then I have no recollection of it, which given I can remember some of the dreams I had the coma, makes about as much sense as homoeopathy. Upon waking up from the coma I was surprised to find myself in a hospital bed, given that my previous recollection had been preparing to go out. Waking up in a hospital bed played with my mind, as did the fact that when I tried to get out of the bed I found that my lower limbs had engaged in a form of anarchic disobedience. By that I mean I thought my brain had sent the message to my legs to move, but somehow the message wasn’t getting through. The same was true initially for my arms inasmuch as I could move them and control them, but at inopportune moments – often involving holding food or drink – they were given to uncontrollable violent spasms. (For a comic interpretation of this watch the first 40 seconds of this clip, featuring Jack Douglas.)
I was left to piece it all together but unfortunately the jigsaw puzzle had numerous pieces missing which were only given to me sometime later. Not as bewildering, a few moments later, when I a) realized I needed to urinate quickly followed by b) the dawning realization that I couldn’t just hop out of bed, and find a toilet to do my doings. Finding myself in an impossible situation, and knowing that matters were rapidly spiraling out of my control, I decided to go with the flow. And then I heard the flow trickling into a bag. They’d shoved a tube down my jap eye, or fitted a catheter to be medically accurate. Which I hoped they’d been, unlike when you visit hospital, and they want take blood and ask if a medical student can have a go. And they find the vein eventually, after you’ve styled it out by pretending those previous attempts didn’t hurt.
And if you think that’s bad, be thankful I didn’t reveal the life enhancing confidence boost that was defecation. Involving two nurses, a bedpan and all done as if it was speed shi…but not having much control it was more a marathon than a sprint.
An easier way to understand what had happened is to liken my brain to a hard drive of a computer, which had been infected with a virus. A lot of things didn’t work properly.
One of the many ways that the doctors would gauge just how not properly my brain wasn’t working was this simple way to assess my co-ordination. They would ask me to lie flat out on my bed and to run the heel of one foot up and down the shin of the other. This was an effective measure of whether my brain could send out controlling messages and more importantly, whether they were being received and understood. They weren’t. So they tried another tack, this one involved a doctor standing in front of me and moving his finger in front of him at different heights, to the left and to the right, which they would then hold it still for a matter of seconds whilst I was meant to put my finger tip on their finger tip. You can guess the results. One day after being subjected to yet another routine humiliation – conducted to an audience of medical students – I held out my finger and motioned for the doctor to pull it, bemused he looked around and pulled my finger. By now I hope you are smiling at what I’m going to write. He pulled my finger, as he did so a fart of epic majesty resounded.
Oddly enough there were no more tests after that…
Upon discharge into the rehabilitation unit one of the tasks was to get me to close my eyes and to stand with my feet together for as long as possible. Given that I had difficulty in even standing up without support this had about as much chance of success as a cement life jacket. I soon discovered that not only were my fine motor skills compromised – fine motor skills, just to remind you, are the ones that tell your fingers your are holding a razor and not a conductors baton – but that also I depended a great deal on visual cues and that I was no good with my eyes closed. This has had a somewhat unexpected consequence.
Imagine a scenario where you are supposed – and you want to prove yourself – to be at your athletic and creative best, one moreover that you don’t need light to guide you but if there is some it’s a bonus, as you can manage perfectly well by touch. In the course of such an activity one displays a series of unusual and highly imaginative manoeuvres, a majority of these depending of split second timing, control of your body and balance. One moreover, that tests every facet of both mind and body to achieve a very desirable outcome. If you are thinking he can’t possibly be referring to what you’re thinking right now, you’re wrong. (If you haven’t worked out what I’m referring to, it is of course a three letter word and the middle letter a vowel). That is precisely what I’m thinking of. I’m just leaving you to fill in the blanks. As due to my lack of fine motor skills, balance problems and coordination I cannot fill in anything.