I’ve had a funny old month. 4 weeks ago our beloved Tim, my step dad, had a seizure one day during his lunch break. He was rushed to St. George’s hospital after a CT scan found a colloid cyst in the middle of his brain. Less than a week later he had brain surgery.
Thankfully the operation went smoothly and Tim is steadily recovering at home. Now that the initial whirlwind of hospital beds, waiting in corridors and cooking dinners (Mum stayed on our little sofa for the two weeks Tim was in hospital) is over, as a family we are all taking time to reflect from this reeling, shocking, stressful time. Tim’s memory of the last month is still a little patchy. We’re trying to fill in the gaps.
My memories are:
- My first semi panic attack after hearing the news. I had to spend quite some time on the bathroom floor.
- Mum arriving at our flat at around 4am after we’d arranged an uber. She had a huge fox sitting at her feet for the three minutes it took for the taxi to arrive.
- The neuro ward is scary. There are lots of poorly people there. But it is also a kind place. The nurses’ and fellow visitors’ generosity is boundless. My favourite moment was whilst sitting in the visitors room, an elderly Irish lady produced a kettle from her bag and proceeded to make everyone a cup of tea.
- If you are waiting for someone to come out of surgery you can’t sit in pret. The songs will make you too sad.
- Mums staying for a prolonged stretch of time is really great for learning- I now know how to properly clean the sink. It’s sparkling.
- The relief of being alive might make you a bit manic. Tim spent most of his first afternoon after the surgery reciting Shakespeare and telling us wild dreams he’d had involving Sting, John Mayer and bum bags. He craved Doom Bar and brioche buns.
- Hospitals have a very distinctive smell. It really hits the back of your throat, it seeps into your clothes. It takes a while to wear off.
- The ward has excellent script writing potential. One afternoon Tim told me to be quiet so we could hear each patient’s update from the doctor.
- Some days are good. Some days are bad. Leaving the hospital doesn’t mean you are ok yet.
- Cashmere hats are perfect for sore heads.
- Family really is everything. Mum, Tim, Laura, Toby and Al. I love them all so much.
I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. But in many ways this life changing time has been very life affirming. We are stronger together. We will get through this. Life is very precious.
This week I started reading Alan Bennett’s Keeping On, Keeping On. In his introduction he imagines seeing his boyhood self:
‘Could I slip into the seat behind I would put a hand on my young shoulder and say, “It’s going to be all right.”
And it has been all right. I have been very lucky.’
And so have we.