The song ended with drums and piano building a crescendo to an extraordinary climax. The last note on a violin was a long drawn out E-flat. My heartthrob’s lyrics were speaking to my soul as I sipped cappuccino in the Acropolis with my friends. I turned, annoyed, at the sound of the waitress rattling cups and spoons behind me. Her image faded and the coffee bars weird, psychedelic atmosphere was slowly beginning to feel very clinical.
“We need to put a line in,” the doctor said. “It’s just a precaution. We may need to administer drugs through it.”
“I know,” I replied, offering my outstretched arm. “I’m a nurse.”
“I need to stitch this one just below the collar bone.”
“I’m parched,” I said, “Could I have a drink?” The little nurse brought me an ice cube wrapped in gauze.
“To wet your lips,” she said. “They have posh ones over in ICU, sticks, not cubes.”
“Have you been playing Simon and Garfunkel songs?” I asked. The doctor was concentrating on his needlework as little nurse glanced across the trolley at him.
“Erm....Bit before my time love.” She giggled.
“Why did you mention Intensive Care Unit just now?” It was Doctor Jeffrey who answered.
“You’ve been transferred to us from the ward. This Unit is High Dependency. There are no ventilators here. We’re waiting for the ambulance to take you over.”
I closed my eyes and tried hard to make sense of everything. I’d had a hysterectomy, not an uncommon procedure for a middle aged woman. I should know. I’m a nurse! I was discharged three days later feeling fine. On day seven I was re-admitted after collapsing on the kitchen floor.
“Just an infection,” they’d told me. But the infection had refused to respond to treatment and I was feeling more wretched by the minute. And now came the confusing bits. People coming and going – professionals wearing ID’s - prodding and measuring, conferring and disagreeing, using familiar terminology like peritonitis and splintered diaphragm. A male voice said,
“Surgery within the hour,” and another,
“Too risky to anaesthetise.” And all this mixed up with Simon and Garfunkel singing ‘Bridge over Troubled Water,’ whilst the waitress clattered cutlery!
“Are you sure I’m very ill?” I asked the young nurse. “I don’t feel too bad.” She looked down at me on the stretcher as the ambulance sped along the motorway.
“It’s the morphine,” she answered. “Its powerful stuff.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m a nurse.”
Doctor Jeffrey was there too, sitting beside me and holding my hand. Do doctors do that? He was looking very pensive before he eventually spoke.
“You know,” he began, “Sometimes God allows these things to happen to us. At the time we don’t understand the reason for it, but at some later stage in life we look back, and then we can see His purpose far more clearly.” That was so profound. My answer was simple.
“I know. I’m a Christian!”
I lay in the surreal world of intensive care watching drips, drains, bleeping monitors and suction catheters, whilst softly purring technology was maintaining life all around me. Reflecting on Doctor Jeffrey’s words I whispered,
“Lord, you remember when we spent the day before my operation together? I was scared then, far more scared than I am right now. I committed the whole thing to you, knowing that whatever the outcome, I trust you, and accept that you know what’s best for me.” My celestial chat was abruptly ended by a surprise visit from my dearest and oldest friend.
“Meg, you old phoney, you look fantastic.” she fibbed.
“Sue, oh it’s so good to see you. Have you heard about what’s happened to me?”
“Oh, have I heard Meg! When Steve phoned last week, I was straight on the case. I rang everyone I knew. One call led to another and eventually there were little groups of believers all over the place praying for your recovery.”
“What! Steve rang you Sue? You mean my husband actually asked you to pray for me? But he’s a skeptic and committed non-believer!
“Non believer he may have been Meg. But hey, you’ve survived Septicaemia! Your organs were failing fast, and from the moment the prayers went up, Steve tells me that your condition began to improve. By the time you’d reached ICU you never needed the breathing machine did you?”
“Thank you God.” I gasped. “Sue, I think I’m beginning to realise what this whole ordeal has been about!”
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