Wow what a year!
Let me elaborate on my seemingly innocuous comment and set the scene – it was this Monday (the 4th December) almost exactly a year ago, and that Monday night, or the the small hours of the morning of Tuesday 5th, I came uncomfortably close to death.
The Thursday before my grandmother, Gug, with whom I was incredibly close, had tragically passed away. To say that she and her hordes of grandchildren (she had 15 of them – talk about a matriarch) were close does not even begin to do her justice; and my two brothers and I enjoyed a relationship with our grandmother that was almost unheard of.
To be fair to her, she had had a very good innings and at 92, after a long and illustrious life that included 7 years living in Lahore in India (which is part of modern day Pakistan) she would have been happy to call it a day when she did. No one could blame her for shuffling off her mortal coil after such a fulfilled life, and however upset we all were, in many ways she had reached a point beyond which her symptoms and general wellbeing were becoming so extremely dire that she would not have really wanted to, in the words of Wiston Churchilll, “keep buggering on”.
This brings us to Monday 4th December 2017. My grandmother had sadly left us on the Friday prior (the 1st), and having been cowering at home since the previous Wednesday, sitting in a ball of shared grief with my mother, I had finally elected to get back on the horse and head back down to Bristol to face the proverbial music that is student life. A great friend, Ben, with whom I was at school and subsequently lived in Paris with happened to be at his family home that weekend, which is only just down the road from Bristol. He knew how close Gug and I were and thus knew that I needed the support and love of a great mate to bring me back to life, so to speak. As such that evening, having been out for drinks with a few of my fellow 4th year language buddies, Ben and I splintered off from the group in order to really talk. A good heart to heart was had I am sure (neither of us really remember the night’s events – god damn alcohol eh?!), and then what had begun as fun, games and an emotional outpouring between two best friends turned deadly serious at breakneck speed… Somehow (why can’t either of you remember goddammit?!) we ended up going from whichever bar we had been in (I have a feeling it was Zero Degrees microbrewery and bar, but as we have established, I simply can’t be sure!) managing to make our way onto a small section of roof that can be reached from the public staircase which links the lower and upper sections of pavement. Referring to the image that I have in my head of when I visited said section of roof with my parents in the Summer, it is a fairly non-descript section of asphalt about 15 by 20 feet, but importantly it sits at somewhere between 30 to 35 feet above the pavement/road at the bottom. This was the height from which I somehow managed to fall, God only knows how, onto the pavement below; and what it earned me was about a month and a half in a coma, a fractured femur, a fractured pelvis, six broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and liver, and some fairly severe cranial swelling as a result of a large knock to the head.
I must, at this juncture, salute the man who was the one to find me. He had been out walking in the streets at that time and thank God for him, because had it not been for him raising the alarm and phoning the ambulance, I most likely wouldn’t be here today.
Is it perhaps reason to believe in guardian angels?
However bad that you can imagine that must have been for me, at least I wasn’t at the receiving end of perhaps the rudest of awakenings possible, as my dear friend Ben was. Having, far more sensibly it must be said, remained asleep on the roof, Ben was then woken up at about 5 o’clock by the police – can you imagine?! They had come in order to find him and presumably prevent a further fall, and when they found him they announced the news that they had found a boy of a similar age who had fallen from the roof and was in hospital in a critical condition. Ben was then taken along to Southmead hospital where I was in temporary residence but, not being a direct relation of mine, was then subjected to an agonizing and prolonged wait as they wouldn’t/couldn’t legally give him any information as to my condition, as he’s not a family member. The phrase ‘kept in the dark’ has never rang truer than for poor Ben!
I shall continue the surgical saga at a later date, as I appreciate it is a slight information overload. Next up, we’ll have my description of life in a Neuro Rehabilitation Ward, which is as homely and as welcoming as it sounds!