© Julie Boyd
Floating around the ceiling I looked down. It was 9.22am. The clock was large, round, old fashioned, easy to read.
My body lay on the floor.
The white tiles were cold, but had felt strangely comforting as I slid into their embrace.
Two students had come and gone. Or had they?
I couldn’t speak, but thought maybe they were used to seeing people collapsed on bathroom floors. After all it was a university, and most people don’t want to get involved.
Suddenly six firemen were leaning over me, all working frantically. To this day I can clearly recall two things- the time on the wall clock, and the details on the backs of their suits. I could read the name on one of them, Jones. They all seemed to be male and anglo-saxon. I was laughing at the incongruity of it all as I thought ‘well, I am in Oregon’, but they didn’t seem to realise that. What on earth was with the helmet on the other guy- did he think he was going to have to rush in, hose blazing to put out a fire?
I watched, detached, as they administered CPR and spoke authoritatively to people around me, trying to create some space for the paramedics. My attention wandered and I felt myself start to move again.
I wasn’t walking, I seemed to be floating through a mist. The pain had gone. That terrible feeling of being hit repeatedly in the chest by a sledgehammer that robbed me of breath,that made me want to do anything to make it stop.
Gradually a figure emerged from the mist and started speaking to me. At first I couldn’t focus on what he- and it was a he even if he was wearing a dress – was saying to me. It was something like ‘Go away, we’re not ready for you yet.’ Instead the voice of one of the firemen suddenly penetrated my brain.
‘Jenny- wake up. What about your kids. You can’t leave them. They’ll be devastated.’
‘Don’t. Just as I’ve reached a place where finally the pain is gone. The emotional pain, the financial pain, the physical pain. All of it- gone in a flash. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I feel fantastic. This looks like a great place to be. I want to stay for a while. And you’ve hit on the one thing that will stop me. Who the hell told you I had kids? And how do you know their names. How dare you bring them into this.’
The voice was incessant. Then a second voice chimed in. It came from the guy who’d emerged from the mist. ‘Not now Jenny- we’re not ready for you yet. You have to go back.’
‘Bloody hell. I’m not wanted anywhere. What do I do now?’
‘Come back Jenny- come on wake up’- the fireman’s voice again- sharp and authoritative.
The faces of my kids appeared. They looked worried. Suddenly I was down from the ceiling. Falling back into my body with all of the pain, the hurt, everything. I didn’t want to be there. It was the very last place on earth I wanted to be.
Tears started to pour uncontrollably down my face as I felt hands and equipment everywhere. The pain was unbearable.
It was the worst pain I’d felt since childbirth. But at the end of this tmee wouldn’t be a beautiful baby to hold. My eyes registered that the firemen’s uniforms had changed and they’d become paramedics. One was a woman. Professional, white and impersonal. She didn’t care about my kids. She was more interested in IV drips and racing me to an ambulance headed for intensive care, and keeping me awake as I kept trying to go back to the nice place.
I hated them all.
9.30 again. The clock had changed. I think it was the next day. I was out of intensive care. They’d tried every test they could think of and couldn’t come up with an explanation of what had happened, but they presented me with a bill for $10,000. That was enough to make my heart stop again, and they looked quizically as I laughed again.
I didn’t tell them about the other guy but I did ask them to pass on my thanks to Jonesy. That seemed to throw them. They told me that my heart had stopped beating for 3 minutes and wasn’t I a lucky girl.
No- I really wish you’d all just left me alone. It still hurts, and that bloody clock is still ticking.