My First Day in the Hospital
As I make my way down to the dining room, I’m incredibly intimidated. A number of people are queuing up and I join them. I don’t introduce myself to anyone, afraid to make conversation. I’m also afraid of what the social protocol is when you’re in a hospital like this. I copy the order of the person in front of me and I’m handed a large plate. Spotting a station for getting coffee I dive on the opportunity. I’m exhausted.
A boy takes a seat opposite me. He’s young and quite attractive. He asks me all sorts of questions about myself as we eat. A lot of people are staring at me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m new or because I’m me. Aware of the number of eyes watching me, I sit up straight, eat slowly and smile at the boy opposite me. I want to look approachable. The girl who had the towel on her head earlier enters the dining hall and goes to sit with a group of people who all smile and greet her. I’ve got it. She’s the popular one. I make a mental note to befriend her.
One of my friends arrives. She brings me books and a fluffy blanket. I’m incredibly touched by the gesture. Little do I know that within a few months we won’t be friends anymore. Her visits will start to decrease until I’m discharged. We’ll see each other every once in a while despite my no longer attending college. But when I’m readmitted a few months later, she won’t come to see me. Along with a lot of my other friends. After that we’ll lose touch. I’ll be shocked by it all, but I’ll move on.
My doctor comes up to the ward to introduce herself to me. She listens to my story and takes notes. She’s tall, blonde and beautiful. She’s also incredibly kind. She reassures me that I’m in the right place and that they’ll do their best to help me. Those words bring tears to my eyes. I’ve been waiting to hear them for months. After I was turned away a number of times, I’ve found the help I need. That fight is over.
My Mam and my Aunt come to visit in the evening. Their eyes are wide as I show them around the ward. A nurse lets us into a room with a table and chairs to talk. They don’t want me to be in here. They ask me all sorts of questions about the hospital. They’re surprised by how free I am. I’m not on a high level ward, which means I can walk around the hospital as much as I want. I assure them that I’m where I need to be. They look doubtful. It will take a number of weeks for them to get used to this fact, but they’re being supportive. And that’s all I need right now.
After a long hot shower in my little bathroom I get into a nightdress and crawl into the plain single bed with my book. I stay up until five reading. I haven’t been able to sleep properly in weeks. A nurse checks on me every hour. At one point she asks me do I need anything, but she doesn’t tell me to go asleep or anything. It’s a roasting hot night. Outside my open window (with a protective cover on it) seagulls screech. This is the closest I’ve been to relaxed in weeks.
As I drift off to sleep, I still can’t believe I’m here. I can’t believe this is necessary, but I know it is. Every day I was at home, I was dying a little more. I was putting myself at extreme risk. I’m safe now. The staff here know how to look after me. I’ve been living alone for the last two and half years. During that time I did everything to assert my independence. Now I feel relieved at handing the control over to the hospital staff.
I hold my broken body out and plead with them to fix me. They pick me up, look closely and smile a kind smile that tells me they’ve done this many times before.
You’ll be okay, they assure me.
I’ll be okay.
If you are affected by any of the issues in this essay, please click here.
Watch my video about commenting on people’s appearances below: