I arrived at hospital around 1am on a Friday evening, my 18 year old daughter in a bed with many medical staff around her, I looked at her, she wasn’t there, her eyes were sometimes open but it was obvious they couldn’t see what was infront of them, blank, she would sometimes get angry and her arms would appear to be aggressively fighting their way through something, for the most time she was lied seemingly unconscious, I asked the medical staff if it was medication or sedation that was making her that way and the reply was ‘No, she’s had no medication, that is the bacteria in her brain making her that way’.. At this point they didn’t know what the problem was, they told me they would be taking her for a brain scan and then depending upon the results would then take a sample from her back (spinal fluid) to test for meningitus.
Everything was slow, nothing happened like it was an emergency and I didn’t think she’d ever come back to us. I was sent out of the room (intensive care) and I was invited back into the room when they’d done what they were doing that needed to be done without me being there, I paced outside the room, I couldn’t think and I didn’t want to think too scared to allow any positive or negative thoughts into enter my head, I didn’t want them to influence me or my state of mind, rocking back and forth from one foot to another. Time passed and eventually I followed them into the lift where they wheeled her bed to take her down for an MRi scan, I was left to wait outside the room. I continued to step back and forth, visible sign of stress/trauma perhaps as tears streamed uncontrollably from my eyes. I looked at a painting on the wall, it was called something like The Admiration (I can’t be sure on recollection) and was of 18th century gentile folk peering over to look at a new born baby girl (or perhaps boy, as I believe pink was a boys colour back then), it was striking how the face of the baby reminded me of of the face of my baby girls face when she was born, and I was taken right back to the days of her birth and the glory and the joy and beauty of that time, now 18 years later that life was under serious threat. I wept and wept while looking at the picture and awaiting her to come out of the scan room. It seemed like forever.
They emerged wheeling her in her bed and her condition was still the same, I walked beside her back up to intensive care as the staff would from time to time try to communicate to me what they were doing or going to do. I was sent out of the room and then invited back in, this went on as the hours passed, I would hug and talk to her saying things because in my mind her ears would still be hearing things and sending those soundwave signals to her brain, weather she could comprehend them or not I felt it vitally important to stimulate her senses to reminding her brain that there was an outside world awaiting its return, I said things like ‘Joshua loves Ashlea’ and ‘Tell me how Leeds festival was’ etc.. there was never a definate response although I’m sure when I mentioned her boyfriend Josh she steadied a moment as if something had caught her attention that she recognised.. She was a terrifying sight and it was frightening, she would scream as if being tortured and would fight something that wasn’t there as her arms reached out and clawed at the air, I dared not wonder what she was experiencing inside.
I also thought important to stroke her body during her calmer moment, again in my naive mind this would stimulate her nerve receptors and send signals to her brain that there was something going on externally, I don’t know how effective this was but to me it was extrememly important to stimulate her to help bring her back.
They didn’t know what was wrong with her but were trying to find out, I was either in the room talking to her, stroking her or when sent outside pacing and rocking back and forth daring not to think. I know the options of thought were
1. To imagine the worse and she would die.
2. To imagine the best and she would live.
3. To imagine inbetween; she would live but have no quality of life being permanently disabled.
I also know thoughts on these lines could be extended to
1. imagining a future without her; greiving.
2. imaginine a future with her, time together.
3. imaginine a future with her disabled; being her carer.
I did not venture into any of those and stayed clear of thought on all those lines, concentrating instead on every single present moment, accepting the situation and unknowing but able to accept the outcome whatever that may be. I also prayed to the stars for them to save my baby’s life, I focused hard on this thought (of astrotheology and perhaps my belief) rocking back and forth in trauma, the stars kept me grounded, mentally and physically and helped me through the trauma.
Sat on a chair that had been put outside the room for me when I wasn’t allowed in I dozed off with my head in my hands several times for a few moments before jumping back with a start to be fully awake. It must have been 6 or even 7am when I heard the word ‘meningitus’ still in doze mode I didn’t want to believe I heard this word, not sure if it was in dream mode or awake mode, I thought I could commit it to dream world if I didn’t acknowledge it, seconds later the Doctor appeared infront of me and said ‘The results from her spine test tell us it’s meningitus’ and went on to say they were giving antibiotics for it.
Now completely wired up to machines and drips in intensive care it was just a matter of time before we knew if the administered medicine would be successful in fighting the bacteria. I still cried and cried and I still talked to her and I still stroked her, her condition the same, she wasn’t there and would still fight something that wasn’t there, sitting up and clawing the air with her hands while appearing angry, scared and in pain, screaming. Several of us had to hold her down at times, the Doctor’s reasured me she wouldn’t remember any of this. It went on and on. I dared not to think about it.
Time. That was all. I had a positive feeling with the Doctor’s saying she’s wouldn’t remember it, I took that to be positive, thinking they must think she’ll recover to say she won’t remember it. From there on I felt more positive and I thought now diagnosed and under treatment the worst was over.
But I hadn’t slept and I was still in trauma. I was in the family room one time when they sent me saying they’d come and get me when I was allowed in again and I thought I should make her a card, I believe words and gifts and manifestations of things are important, magical even so I checked my bag to see if I had scisors in there, I hadn’t but I had some double sided tape. I looked around for something appropriate to make a card with, it would act as a magical talisman in my mind and it would have the power to aid her back to health. I looked around the room and nothing more appropriate that a massive red love heart with white stars on it caught my eye, it was more than ideal, a coincidence perhaps so fitting, it was an A3 poster about heart disease, I took it off the wall and with my pen I punctured holes all around the big red heart with white stars, this was to be my card to Ashlea, with the perforations by pen it easily tore from the poster and I mounted the big red heart onto an upside down polysteiring cup I’d just drunk from with the double sided tape. I wrote on the back of the heart ‘Ashlea you are a star, as bright as Sirius in the night sky, and I wish upon a star that you get better very soon, love you lots xx. I also picked up a leaflet titled ‘Meningitus’ and opened it, the first words I read were ‘Help with funeral costs’ and then ‘Grants to convert a home for disabiligy’ I abruptly closed it and took out all the rest and put them in my bag, I didn’t want any family or friends exposed to such negative information, which I know can be influential. When I was allowed back into the room I placed my 3D improvised get well card, good luck magical talisman next to her bed by the side of all the monitors wired up to her.
I still talked to her about her boyfriend and touched her. While screaming out during one of her more distressing times she shouted the word ‘Dad’ and it was amazing, she could talk, she could remember and it was a very positive time indeed.
I went home, time is a blur but I’d been by her side day and night and day & night, I arrived home at 12 midnight, had a shower got into bed and set my alarm for 3am, it was difficult to relax, difficult to sleep just wanting my beautiful baby next to me. At 4am I was ready to leave my house to return to hospital again, I opened my front door and was immediately met with the brilliance of the stars that seemed so much nearer, so much brighter than I had ever observed before, perhaps because it was 4am, it was a beautiful sky I was in awe of and I felt comforted and reasured by my companions of the cosmos, the magnificent moon above too that guided my 30 minute walk back to the hospital.
The next time she shouted out mom, then a day later little by little she came around, she asked what had happened to her and was extremely confused but she was back.
I felt it extremely important to communicate to her that she’d had an infection and she was fine, I trivialised it and did not mentioned the word ‘meningitus’. Each day I would say something like ‘Tomorow your drip will be removed and you’ll be able to eat food’ and she did, the day after it was ‘Tomorow you’ll be on your feet’ and then ‘Tomorow you’ll be walking’ and ‘Tomorow you’ll be able to have a shower’ I didn’t communicate this to her like it was a hope, but like it was a fact, and she did all those things without a second thought. Her recovery was quite miraculous. I honestly don’t know how to show my appreciation for having her back like she never even came so close to death. I am thankful to Knowledge, that enabled the medical staff to diagnose and treat a condition to preserve life so sacred and I thank my luck stars (quite literally – astrotheology) for saving my baby.