Of course, it had to be raining the morning we left for the hospital.
It was early and the sky matched our mood, grey and sombre. Which was strange, as this day was supposed to have felt wonderful for all that it signified.
I couldn’t believe we had arrived at this day with no delays, complications, misunderstandings, or backings out (from anyone!)
If Anita were worried or nervous, we couldn’t tell, as she was unusually quiet. But it was early, and she was never at her best until at least two cups of coffee had been consumed, and today, she wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink.
We weren’t looking forward to leaving her, literally at the hospital doors and having to walk away. We would all be there at her side in our minds but that had never compensated before and made none of us feel any better.
We had been instructed to return home to wait, no hanging around in the car park, as the procedure and all the safety checks would probably take most of the day. The house seemed dreadfully empty and lonely when we walked in, reminding us of that last awful time when we didn’t know whether she would be coming home at all. I didn’t really want to be there, stewing in memories and trying not to worry, but Anita had made us promise to be at home, so I did what I usually do when I am miserable or worried. I started to clean house.
I cleaned and dusted, hoovered, and tidied the entire house, but when I ran out of jobs it was only 1pm. This would have been a golden opportunity to catch up with some writing, but my head and heart were out of sync, so I curled up on the couch with my laptop and waited for the phone to ring.
When the call came, we were amazed at how cheerfully normal Anita sounded. She said she felt fine and had spent most of the time chatting to the consultant while he pushed and shoved the pacemaker thingy into her chest.
I had a bit of a shock when I had a peek at Anita’s chest, expecting to see a small dressing on what was supposed to be a small incision. It looked far from small and the dressing was already soaked with blood. The surrounding area was badly bruised, leading me to imagine they might have attacked her with a bread knife and not a scalpel.
Anita seemed in good spirits, although very tired. There was no pain in her chest but her left arm was aching. It would be several hours before the pain from the surgery would kick in, leaving us with just paracetamol to control it.
Getting comfortable in bed would prove to be almost impossible for her, so the next few days would be difficult, for Anita would need her sleep.
Will this pacemaker/defibrillator improve Anita’s quality of life?
Life in the Dawes household is on a knife edge now, as the date for Anita’s next and hopefully successful visit to the hospital draws ever nearer.
They plan to be fitting Anita with a pacemaker/defibrillator on Wednesday next week to persuade her poor old heart to start behaving normally. In preparation, we have been bombarded with a cart load of instructions, safety checks and medication updates.
There is so much to remember, and even more information that we really didn’t need, but you know doctors, they must tell you everything, including, in great detail, everything that could go wrong.
Me personally, I like to know what might happen to me, even the bad stuff, but Anita would rather not dwell on that side if things. She hasn’t said as much, but I know she would rather carry on as she is, even with all the breathlessness and fatigue, than walk into that hospital again. If we do get her there, she will be doing it for us, her family and not for herself.
So when the consultant began to describe, in detail, about how he would be feeding several wires through her veins into and around her heart, and that she would be awake while this was all going on, I could clearly see her having second thoughts.
He then made a tricky moment even worse by rattling off everything bad that could happen while she was on the table. Anita didn’t need him to describe everything she would hear and feel either. I could tell by her face that she desperately wanted to tell him she had changed her mind.
Apart from childbirth some fifty years ago and a broken leg a while back, Anita hasn’t had much to do with doctors and hospitals. Just by osmosis through me and all my many medical problems. For sisters, we couldn’t be more different, even though we look alike…
So, understandably, she is becoming extremely nervous and hating every minute. It wouldn’t take much to have her making for the hills!
These next few days will be an extreme test of everyone’s patience, tact, and diplomacy as we all try to convince ourselves and each other that everything will be fine. Anita will have a Covid test on Sunday and be confined to barracks until the day we leave for the hospital…
I didn’t care that it was raining, or that the wind was so strong it nearly blew me off my feet. I had finally made it to my favourite healing place and that was all that mattered.
I had wanted to come to the island today, to defy the weather and stand on the path overlooking the sea. To climb over the old wooden breakwater and cross the shingle beach and stand at the water’s edge like I always did.
The last time I was here seemed like a lifetime ago now. So much has happened since then, so much misery and heartache, worry and sadness and not much better now if the truth be told.
This was what today’s visit was all about. Time to find some of the peace I always found by the sea, to help make sense of the turmoil in my heart and head. I watched the waves form out to sea, the white horses riding the waves as they galloped to the shore. They crashed down in a roar as the water met the shingle, and I felt myself relax for the first time in weeks.
I watched each wave reach further up the beach before it became swallowed by the one coming up behind. The sight and sound enthralled me as it always had, soothing my soul into acceptance. I tried to ignore the wind that was numbing my face and the rest of the pain, disappointment and anger slowly faded away and the tears began to fall, as salty as the sea I loved so much…
The Next day…
The following day we were invited on a trip. This time to Southsea on the south coast, just twenty miles away.
After the battering I received yesterday, I wasn’t keen to go out again, but the sun was shining and the only clouds in the sky were soft, fluffy, snow-white creations, promising a lovely day.
On the way, the view of these clouds through the car windows was mesmerising. Against the clear crystal blue of the sky, the clouds seemed to glow, and the formations were amazing.
The day couldn’t have been more different to the freezing gale lashing of yesterday.
While we ate our lunch outside in the fresh air, we were visited by a crowd of starlings. Such beautiful birds with their iridescent plumage and intelligent chatter. They waited patiently for any morsels we felt like offering and made excellent luncheon companions.
When this huge seagull landed among them, we watched to see what the starlings would do but they simply ignored him, and he soon flew away.
After lunch, we were lucky enough to witness the departure of Southsea’s Hovercraft, a huge noisy beast of a machine and we were all sprayed with seawater as it fired up and took off.
I watched it travel across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight, leaving a trail of froth in its wake, gleaming in the sunshine.
This was a short visit, but we all agreed it had been well worth it. It had been a lovely few hours, where we laughed together and enjoyed one another’s company for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime…