It is safe to humour ourselves a little because the sunrise after sickness is here. Now that I am back to being healthy and ´on my feet´. I will also keep my medical records private because secrets are sexy. Those who survive, survive to tell the story. This is the story of my unexpected illness and how I dealt with it. The disability only makes it more interesting.
On 20th November 2022, I woke up in Lisbon, Portugal after days of battling with an illness. But today it was about to get more dramatic than I usually ask for. I made breakfast, put on Lata Mangeshkar on the stereo, and went ahead with the day when suddenly an excruciating pain started in my abdomen which I ignored until it reached a point where I could not breathe and almost prepared myself to see the Angel of death and headlines in the next day´s newspaper. I felt confused, shaken and unprepared for why such a symptom occurred because I was taking my medicines. Like any other millennial, I immediately googled my symptoms until my threshold of pain had surpassed and google didn’t give me shit. We usually see a situation like this in films and the protagonist wakes up in the hospital in the next scene. I did wait a few seconds to faint but sadly it did not work and I realized I couldn’t skip the entire part where I had to reach the hospital on my own. I also realized life does not come with remote control.
I started firing shots in every direction. I sent voice notes with my voice shaking to send help as I dropped my pin location. I sent a message to my team in Lisbon, to my friends in EU and my landlord. I even called the helpline only to be put on que to find someone who speaks English on the other side. I partially shouted my address and my symptoms and begged to just come and hold me. By now I was crying but it was making my pain worse so I stopped. Lesson number 2, ´Put emotions aside when dealing with a life threatening situation´. I was defeated and I put down the phone. In desperate times, the only people that are there for you are the ones in your radar and that’s exactly when Clara, my friend in Lisbon texted to ask about my health. I asked her to get me an ambulance and I needed immediate medical attention. She didn’t waste a second and as my eyes were losing vision, I could see an ambulance pulling over. I then met the most chilled out paramedics in the world. They came forth and just said, ´You? Yeah? Ok´
They opened the door and got me on the stretcher. To my surprise they refused to take my wheelchair saying the hospital does have wheelchairs. I told them this is not that kind of a wheelchair and I need it to move around. But in vain. I did not want to argue and they were clearly agitated with my instructions on grabbing a water bottle and leaving my wheelchair inside my apartment. I zipped my mouth because at one point they also offered to offload me so I could go on my own. They checked my blood pressure and fever and I requested them to start moving only to be met with more scorn. The ambulance finally started towards a public hospital and I looked outside.
It was a beautiful day. It was a perfect day to head to the waters and skip on the shores but here I was heading towards another destination. We finally reached the public hospital and my eyes searched for anyone I could just look at and cry. But instead they parked me in the corridor while I held my abdomen and pleaded in whispers to get some attention. By this time I had gotten use to the pain. It had eaten into me and had become one of the organs. I was losing consciousness and reached a space where I started questioning my decisions, my choices and my reality. Was this just a speed breaker or a reality check?
They registered me, checked my vitals again and I explained my history. I was then moved on another stretcher parked and then into a ward. I don’t have a name for that ward but that is when my entire world started to spin. I saw elderly people to my left and right. Some in pain, some asleep and there I was surrounded by the reality of old age and sickness. I saw medical staff moving around carefully avoiding eye contact and doing what they were told.
Among us was also a beautiful girl right across me with red hair that was asleep on a stretcher. She woke up and looked at me and instantly started wailing followed by vomits. She was attended by nurses that helped her move out of the stretcher and on a chair. I sat there lost in her situation and wondered about this strange unity of old and young in this hall of sickness and pain. None of us had our families or friends with us. Just a bunch of strangers tending to our wounds with limited empathy. My friends, Clara, Ricardo and Adi by then had arrived and sat in the hall outside. They were not permitted to come see me and we spoke over WhatsApp.
After a while a few nurses came over to attend me and opened up my body for further tests. I didn’t care anymore. They poked, pinched and took blood. Put up a Painkiller through IV and injected a couple of fluids. I was mum and numb and even if I wanted to express, they didn’t know my language. I was again left alone for a while and tears started pouring out. I was missing my wheelchair. I saw the girl with red hair again who was much better after a while and she told me she had a lot to drink the night before. I told her to be safe and take care when she left.
To be continued…….