For four long months in the first half of 2014, I was hospitalized. I walked in through the first snow, and when I left it was almost summer. During those weird months, I had a hole in my back deep enough to expose my spine.
I spent all my time on either my left side or my right side, and I had to shift sides every 20 minutes or my legs would start to go numb and hammer me with intense pain. My only means of turning over was to lift my entire body withone arm, in that old-school handle hanging over the bed, doing all I could not to use any muscles in my lower back. Works wonders for your biceps!
I could only eat every second day, and every other second day I was fasting and rolled down to surgery where I was put under for wound care – as a lifelong insomniac I learned to love and long for those dreamless black voids of Propofol nothingness – those perfect two seconds of dizziness and pain relief just after the injection started to burn my arm from the inside and before I disappeared. Oh, and I learned more. I had to learn to take my own blood thinner injections in my leg and stomach. I learned what morphine withdrawal feels like after I secretly quit it, cold turkey, after months on horse doses, since I was so fed up with pills and the feeling they didn’t help for the pain anyway. I learned how to shower with an electrical pump mounted into my lower back. When I got out, I even had to learn how to walk stairs again. Yes, I did learn a lot. I did NOT, however, learn that I need to spend more time with my family. I did NOT learn that I should spend less time of my life worrying and stressing. I did NOT learn that life is precious and every second of it counts. No, I did not learn those things – simply because I already knew them by heart. We all do. Our priorities do not change in the face of death, they just intensify. We get reminded of them. Suddenly, painfully, honestly, we remember how to live.
We start the concept in a hospital bed where I have been brought to the emergency ward with flesh eating bacteria. Teams of doctors struggle, but no antibiotics help and no morphine takes away the pain. What started off as an annoying infection has, in just hours, suddenly pivoted into the very real possibility of my actually dying. From that point we go back to key points over the decades that have passed since the Remedy Lane time span. From bed to bed – the beds of childbirth, of family deaths, of dementia, of sex and lovers, and of decades of an undying love. The hospital bed is our narrative hub, right there in the slowly passing light of day – a dusk also representing time, ageing, the circle of life, the increasing oblivion of dementia, the increasing coldness of society, fading love, Ikaros’ failure, falling hope, but also the beauty of the transition, of the inevitable. And of the hope of a tomorrow, the hope of change, no matter how frail and naïve that hope may be. The animal within us refuses to lie down and admit defeat. This beast may indeed threaten to devour us every minute of our civilized lives, but at the brink of death it is that same beast.