I was sprawled across the 2 small steps between my living room and dining room when Timmie came home. Semi-conscious perhaps. I could hear him shuffling, stomping around and calling someone on the phone yelling something. Droppie was here too, visiting from Australia. He is one of Timmie’s best buddy. He must think I’m nuts and hate me for ruining his holiday.
Timmie picked me up. My head hurt. Had I fallen? I don’t remember. I was trying to get a glass of water for myself from the kitchen to wash down the panadol I wanted to gulp down.
We got down to the lobby of the apartment compound. Timmie scolded Droppie that he should hurry up and go find a taxi for us, that it was an emergency. Sorry Droppie, I wish I could help or at least walk.
Limp, I plomped on the sofa downstairs while waiting for a taxi to reach us. Where are we going? I was in my pyjamas pants and had no shoes on.
Some bright light trailed in through the sliding doors. Oh it was the taxi. I tried to sit up. I thought I had sat up straight, but in fact I was a lump of bones piled on top of each other. Timmie had to prop me up on his chest, and half drag half carry me to the taxi.
Timmie threw me down on to the taxi seat and I stumbled across, barely catching myself. I willed my bum to stay on the seat as the driver sped along the dark, empty streets of Chao Yang Park West road. In the distance, I heard the chuckles of some lao wai (foreigner) heading home after their last drinks at Suzie Wong’s. Typical Beijing weekend.
I don’t know how long it took. To me, it felt like eternity. Timmie picked up my shambled body and carried me from the taxi to the sliding doors of International SOS Beijing. He screamed at the security guard for dozing off to sleep and not seeing us approach. A nurse heard us, and scrambled to find a wheelchair.
I flopped. I had not even a tint of residual energy left in my body or mind to lift a finger.
A few nurses scuttered across the room. Oh I was in ER. First time I had ever been to ER in my life, for all I can remember. They paged the doctor on duty.
Gently, they helped me onto the bed. In my daze, I surveyed my sanctuary, decorated with white lights and curtains, and white bed sheets in between the machines that beeped. I even had my own bathroom in this petit ward. Everything was pristine, immaculately clean, and white. There was an eerie peace to it. I thought I was in heaven and was about to meet God and defend my myself as to why I had chosen to die.
I laid stoic. They put a few blankets over me but I could not stop shivering from cold. Perhaps I was trembling not from the heated temperature in the room but from fear. Fear of what, I could not say.
One of the nurses, and I came to know later was the Head Nurse Dee Dee, stuck a little white instrument softly into my ear. Click. No temperature.
Then they rolled up my pyjamas sleeves and wrapped my bony biceps with a black elastic tape, and stuck a little black ball underneath. They shifted my index finger so it fit into a mouse-trap like device, and kept it there for a few seconds. Beep beep beeeeeeep!
“Pressure 35/60”, Dee Dee noted quietly, but diligently.
Some tall man came into the room. My eyes squinted at the bright ceiling lights so he ordered them turned off. He was the doctor I believe.
I heard Timmie mumble something about coming home and finding me on the floor and not sure what happened, and that there was glass everywhere in the kitchen.
Doctor peered into my eyes, “What’s your name?”
“No… No.. Noch-ie,” I stammered.
“Do you know what day it is?”
“Umm… Saturday…. Or 22nd… or Friday?” I managed with gasping breaths.
Doctor felt my head lightly, and at the back of my neck. “Did it hurt?”
“A little… I dunno… I feel so so, um… diiiiiii –zzy,” I continued.
Doctor decided I had not bang my head too harshly and there was no lump. They ordered an X-ray to see if I had a concussion. I don’t even remember passing through the machine.
Sudden wave of nausea overthrew me and Dee Dee asked another nurse to get me a basin with a plastic bag wrapped around it. I tried to throw up. Water. Spit. Some sort of translucent fluid. I tried to vomit my guts out because they were bothering me. The reminiscence of the tub of pills I tried to swallow burned my stomach lining. I tried to spew. But I couldn’t. And it felt worse.
Timmie went out with the Doctor and I could hear muffled voices behind the curtains. I was too tired to eavesdrop, my fate was at their mercy. They decided flushing my stomach was not necessary as I was still conscious, but I had to stay the night for observation. I was quite dehydrated it seemed, and obviously drowsy from an overdose of sleeping pills. Dee Dee came back in with a tray of assorted needles and tape, and a few packages of glucose solution.
She tied a thick rubbery band around my arm, and asked me to hold my hand tightly into a fist. My attempt was in vain. Timmie had to hold my hand into a fist. Dee Dee tapped around my hand, found a relatively chubby blood vessel, pounding green from under the skin. Poke.
Needle was in, and she taped it down. Then, she connected the needle with a tube that extended from the package of glucose, and hung the package on a stand.
Dullop, dullop, dullop, went the IV drip.
My eyes flitted open temporarily, and slowly the heavy eyelids clamped down.
Strangely, my life flashed before my eyes as I closed them. What had become of me? Was God punishing me for something I had done, or not done? Maybe I’m a bad person, that’s why this is happening to me. But I thought I was a strong girl, I can will myself to get better! Every time I laid there half paralysed and ached with throbbing pain, I wonder what is this path of destruction I had gone on. Muddled with medicine, injections, and pills, the bitter irony was that I saw very clearly how I brought this on to myself.
So I stirred and struggled to get up. My body did not move an inch. It did not listen to my mind anymore.
My body needed rest to repair itself. It had sprinted for too long without taking a break, heeding to every unreasonable command my mind gave it – finish this excel spreadsheet first even though it’s midnight, fit another client meeting in, take the CFA and the GMAT and the LLM exams all in one year, make more friends, my life had to be perfect…
Finally, my body revolted. It has had enough.
I don’t know when I woke up but when I opened my eyes, the whole clinic was buzzing and people hustled. Timmie was still there, half asleep on the chair next to my bed. Another doctor came in to have one last look at me and decided I could be discharged. I got up feebly to put on my shoes and then remembered I wasn’t wearing any. The nurse gave me a pair of paper slippers.
The bill was almost half a month’s salary. Thank goodness for medical insurance. I love my company.
With Timmie’s arm supporting me, my weary soul persevered on and I got into a taxi to go home. Home, where I hid under the blankets for the next few days to contemplate the incident. I was slightly angry I had not succeeded. But I was too exhausted to devise the next attempt. Some macaroni in soup was all I wanted.
This was the first of many IV drips I had subsequently over the last 2 – 3 years, so much so I knew all the nurses in ER by their first names.
I had wished I had a pen with me whilst lying on the hospital bed to jot down all those thoughts – I didn’t want to waste time and squander life away by lying in a hospital bed. Perhaps I can be productive somehow while my arm was hooked to tubes.
Always wanting to achieve something, worried being idle meant I would be left behind.
How many times did I nearly die? I don’t think it was that many times I tried to implement my desire for death. But it was in my mind enough, like a bacteria that multiplied exponentially. People wonder what the h@ll was wrong with me and almost surprised I’m still here, breathing.
I’m not too surprised. I’m pretty resilient. I had to graze the doorsteps of death to start thinking about the purpose of every breath I took thereafter. And what doesn’t kill me (literally), makes me stronger, so they say.
I conceived the idea of this blog on one of those sejours on the white ER bed. Today I’m just that little bit stronger because I can talk about it, and help myself get better. That’s enough.
Please help me grow as a writer; I’d love to hear in the comments what you liked / disliked about this post, and what emotions you felt as you read it. Your feedback and critique would be most appreciated. Thanks!