If I had to pin things down to one point in time – no, even smaller – a single morsel of time; the particular thought in fact, then it would have to be this one:
I was in the radiology department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, on level one in the MRI section.
The room is standard NHS weird off white colour that seems to weirdly reflect the lights and grey linoleum style flooring for ease of cleaning.
My name is called and I stand up to talk to the radiologist. I don’t remember them, only their red scrubs and yellow name badge, and the black beaten up clipboard they are holding as they go through all the pre scan questions and checks. I answer in all the right places and reach out to take the gown they gave me.
I lock the door in a changing area and don the hospital gown and then follow the scrubs to the MRI room. It is clinically white, and cold. I am offered a blanket and I thank them. I am positioned on the bed of the machine and given ear plugs and headphones to help block out the noise of the machine.
The whole time all I could think was that one day I might die here in this hospital. Wearing one of these gowns, in one of these weird off white rooms. That one day I might leave home to come here, and that I might not go home again.
It’s that thought that stuck, deep inside my mind, sealed in by the earplugs and headphones; that torments me still whenever I’m there. That jumps around my mind at the oddest of times.
That one day my husband might leave the hospital without me knowing he would never return to get me. That my family may gather to in the middle of the night because “it’s time”.
It’s that thought that triggers a traumatic stress reaction when I’m in hospital now, especially the radiology department. That throws me into fits of tears and leave me only able to say “I need to go home”
That leaves me more frustrated at my own damn inability to get up and leave, and get myself home. Get myself to safety. I’m left feeling caged in, completely trapped and totally alone.
During one of these reactions a doctor asked me if everything was ok at home, perplexed by the difference in women he had witnessed. One who seemed relatively together, taking things in her stride and one that was a complete and total mess, her face wet from tears and snot, breath catching, chest convulsing in eruptions of sobs. He simply could not put the two together.
So yeah, if I had to, if I really had to; that’s what I’d put it down to. That single thought.