This is my worst nightmare. I’m not sure nightmare is enough of a description. Horror. Misery. Purgatory. No words can explain what I am about to tell you.
The comforting fruits of love's labour had me questioning the validity of my reality. Having shared my body with my dream lover had seemingly put my mind in a state of eternal bliss.
She was sleeping. I could tell by her breathing.
The window was open to aerate the marijuana she had brought to serve as an aphrodisiac. Drugs of any form, outside of alcohol, were not permitted on student residences. We tried masking the odour with incense but had very little luck.
The conflicting aromas' became unbearable after some time. Leading to a nonsensical laughing fit that almost turned deadly.
Mary Magdalena sprayed tears like a hosepipe while simultaneously struggling to breath. On top of that, she had caught severe stomach cramps from the intense contractions. All while her laugh continued against her will.
I had to shoo her like a little baby to get her to stop. Rocking her to silence while massaging her stomach. She was drained by the end of it all. So much so that I had to drag her lifeless body back onto the bed. Saliva dripping from her hanging mouth. Eyes drooping.
She mumbled a coupled of words before passing out at the twelfth hour. I joined her shortly after. Opting to ignore the spilt cider on the window ledge with inconsistent drops dripping on the edge of the duvet. Getting out of bed again, then finding a rag, wherever one could be found, was just too much work by then.
I woke up to the sound of screaming at an undetermined time. Mary Magdalena was panicked beyond reason. Her eyes wide and bulging as she shimmied away from me. Landing with a thud on the floor as she slid herself off the bed unawares. Her body wobbled to the door. Using the solid surface to lift herself off the floor.
"Your face." Her face twisted with each word. "YOUR FAAAAACE!" In my panic, my hand was automatically pulled to my face before locating a mirror. The surface where my skin was supposed to be, was sticky. Maroon gel hung off my palm as I slowly pulled my hand away.
Mary Magdalena was sobbing. Her back was against the door, hands clasped on both sides of the frame. I moaned like a small child. Frantically removing myself from the bed to find a mirror.
I broke the wardrobe door in my desperation. Pushing all the cosmetics on the top side shelf to the floor. Grabbing the misshapen "shaving" mirror, my heart pounded through my ears.
It took ages for the mirror to reach my face. When it did, a strong heartbeat punched my adams apple. Followed by a warm wave that swept through my body. Then my vision blurred as my body weakened. The last thing I heard was Mary Magdalene's fading screams.
I woke up with my eyes squinting at the brightness of heaven. Compelling me to ask forgiveness for all of my sins. Then the steady beeping came to my attention. Repeating itself enough for me to turn my head in curiosity.
It was a patient monitor. That’s when I realised heaven was really just fluorescent lights that were now in better focus. I also noticed the restraints around my wrists.
A nurse showed up after some minutes of my struggling with the sidebars.
"Mr Thilale. You're finally awake." My face was warm but taught. It couldn't have been the charms of the nurse because she had a mask on. Something was restricting my facial movements.
"Stop moving like that or you'll disturb the bandages." I relaxed my body and stopped flipping my head around. She began checking the IV bag and the dial on the catheter connected to my arm.
"What bandages?" I asked. Simultaneously noticing the inability to move my lips in a natural way. "On your face. They're not meant to be disturbed or you'll disfigure yourself even more." "What do you mean even more?"
My heart was pounding against my chest. The beeping of the patient monitor picked up momentum accordingly. ”Just relax. Everything will be revealed to you in due time." "No. I want to know now. Tell me," I demanded. The tightening of my arms causing the side railings of the bed to clink. "Mr Thilale. You've experienced a lot of trauma. If you keep jumping and bouncing around like this, you'll only make things worse. Now please."
Being imprissoned to the bed along with her dismissive comments, I grew irritated with her. Opting to shut my mouth in case I allowed her to dragged me further into anger's darkness.
"Good patients always go home better than when they came in. You want to go home eventually don’t you?" I ignored her. Unbothered, she continued to adjust the dial on my drip.
”Would you like some water?" I wanted to ignore her some more, but I was dry mouth thirsty. "Yes," I mummbled.
The patient monitor was beeping normally again.
"I'm lowering your analgesia dosage," the nurse said as she moved to another interconnected dial. There were three IV drips in total. I hadn't figured out what the third one was for yet.
"The doctors want an indication of your current pain threshold. I'm taking it down just a little bit," she said as she turned the dial according to the numbers. "I'll come back in twenty minutes. You need to tell me exactly how and what you're feeling during that time ok?"
I imagined myself frowning as I ignored her once again. After analysing the patient monitor and making notes, she seemed satisfied enough to leave the room. Returning with a polystyrene cup with which she proceeded to fill with water from the basin. She stood over the edge of the bed.
"Say Aaah." She held the cup to my lips. I spread them as far as I could and she proceeded to slowly empty the contents of the cup into my mouth.
The moment was blissful. Everything stood still. As if the quenching of my thirst controlled time itself. Unfortunately, the jealous beeping of the patient monitor pulled me back into the dreariness of my reality.
"I need to pee," I said. Hoping this would compel her to untie me so I could get out of the bed. "You have a urine bag connected to you so don't worry about that. Just let it flow." I slumped back into the mattress of defeat. Turning my head to face the open window on the other side of the room.
I was beginning to feel a tingling sensation on my face.
"Will there be anything else before I leave?" the nurse asked. I ignored her some more. "Ok well, suit yourself Mr Thilale. Just remember that I'm the only genuine care you're getting right now."
She packed up her medical parephernalia and walked away. Her steps disappeared into the commotion of noise as soon as she opened the door. Then immediate silence as the door slid shut. Leaving me alone, still tied to the bed, with a growing tingling sensation on my face.
It had been about fifteen minutes or so that I began banging on my bed. “Nurse,” I called out gently. Unable to shout because of my wrapped up face. And the dread of nerve stimulation from the slightest facial movement. I had tried shouting the first time. Jabbing my face with a million bee stings for the effort.
"Nurse help me." My face was suddenly and rapidly catching on fire. There was a line of itching along the left-hand side, down the eye and further down to the chin, then up the right ear to the forehead.
The inner circumference of this configuration was my axis of pain. The harshest being around the upper nasal area and the right side of my mouth. It felt like my face was sinking into my skull.
"NUUUUUUUURSE!" I could no longer hold back. The bed became my enemy at this point.
I did manage to move it out of position but not anywhere near the door. As a matter of fact, I was now further away. The sidebars were clanking as loud as I could make them. Their sharp sound giving me the motivation to keep yanking.
I could feel my wrists chaffing hard. The fibre between my bones was struggling to stay attached. But that was nothing compared to what was going on with my face.
"AAAAAAAAHHHHH!" The sidebars were flapping from side to side. Instinctively, my hands wrapped around the stubborn metal from both sides. Using brute strength, I flexed my arms and stomach. Attempting to pull the bars out of position. The assembled metal was grating against the resistance of the screws. The patient monitor bleeped away hysterically.
I took a momentary breather. Relaxing my face just long enough to remember the pain all over again. With another desperate flex of my muscles, coupled with the unavoidable and excrutiating contractions of my face, the sidebars ripped off the upper half of the bed.
The sound of screws dropping and rolling away on the floor prompted me to sit up. Quickly turning to my right side and pulling a bar with me. The needle from my catheter flew out with a squirt of blood in hot pursuit.
I thought I heard my name being called out. It could have been my imagination. Whether it was or wasn't, I did not care.
The bed lifted from the bottom left corner. Throwing me off the mattress. Landing on my feet, I yanked the bar with determined aggression. Snapping it completely loose on the third try. Using the unhindered hand, I assisted the other to rip that bar free as well.
There was a rush at the door. Whoever it was, they were too late. I held the liberated sidebars in my hands like clubs. Ready to swing at anyone who attempted to come through.
"Let's not do this again Mr Thilale," a male nurse said as two of them barged in. They were both bigger than me. A uniformed security guard was with them.
The female nurse was also trying to sneak through the door. There was something in her hand but I couldn't look quickly enough to ascertain what it was. The three lugs were lunging at me so I needed absolute concentration. Swinging with the knowledge of not allowing them to catch my makeshift weapons. Backing them up and out of the door in the process.
“Stop! Mr Thilale! Think about what you're doing! We're trying to help you! Calm down man!” The multiple orders were coming in with loud and rapid succession. Making it difficult to pinpoint who was saying what.
I tried to barricade the door with the bed but my assailants were persistent. Kicking the door to interrupt my attempts time and time again. What made it more difficult was this was a double door so I was having to make double the effort. The three of them never let up on taking turns to catch the bars whenever I tried to jab or swing at them.
The door was 3 quarters closed when one of them stuck their hand through to grab a bar, which they did. Permitting me to guillotine swing right onto the bony part of their inviting arm with the free bar.
The owner of the arm hollered their way into the commotion outside just before I slammed and propped the door shut with the bed. There was a momentary halt to proceedings right at this moment.
I took this three or four-second break to jam the bed further into the duel door handles. Not without great difficulty as I still did not have the full functionality of my hands and wrists. But with heart and determination, I was able to secure the bed between the door handles and the ground.
Without a moment's hesitation, I advanced towards the large three panel window on the opposite side of the room. Punching the middle glass with my metallic arm extensions, a loud crash filled the room. Then a crystallic after-sound rushed towards the tarred parking area below.
I peeped over the window frame. It was at least five floors down. There was banging on the door.
They had acquired a heavy object and were attempting to take down the door. I guessed that by now they had acquired other objects for use after the door came down. I most likely broke a staff members arm after all. There were more of them too. I could hear more voices than before.
I needed to make a decision. Surrender, or take the dive. My face had been hurting so undeviatingly that it now felt like a numbed heartbeat. I couldn’t focus like I wanted to anymore.
The bed had moved out of position. One more hit would unhinge it from the door handles it so desperately clung on to. The door itself was being assaulted off of its hinges.
I smashed the remaining jagged glasses sticking out of the windowpane. Then I grabbed the mattress. Lifting it straight up in line with my body.
The bed, then the door, came crashing down. "Hey! What are you doing!" Footsteps clambered towards me. "Mr Thilale No! NO! … NOOOOOOO!"
Nurses’ lunch break gossip:
"Did you hear about the coma patient in Ward D?" said nurse Thokozile. "The one who jumped?" asked nurse Yaya. "Yes. How insane was that?" "Unbelievable."
It was tea-break for the afternoon shift nurses. As per routine, they shut themselves inside the administration office with cookies and juice.
"Apparently they're still looking for him," Yaya said. "How he survived I don't know," added Thokozile.
"What was the problem anyway?" asked nurse Nunuza. "No-one knows," Thokozile replied.
"The authorities are doing everything to keep it under wraps. I heard the nurses and doctors involved were threatened to keep quiet."
"Threatened how?" asked Nunuza. "I don't know. But they won't speak to anyone about it. They make up stories instead. And they've all been acting strange. Well, the doctors are always strange. Dingane and Eric are Dingane and Eric." They all gave a unified huff and eyebrow drop.
"But Rose has been noticeably strange. She'll always talk about her patients. Which one's are problematic or weird." "True," Nunuza and Yaya said in unison.
"This patient is the only one she wouldn't talk about. Besides telling me he had reconstructive facial surgery, she would always bounce around any other questions you asked. Wouldn't talk about his progress chart or anything. It was all just strange."
Thokozile stared at the open window with a cookie floating on the crack of her lip. "Like she knew something she wasn't supposed to."
"And the guard that was stationed at the door," Yaya interrupted. "Yes. What was up with that? Was the patient a criminal or something?" Nunuza asked.
"Well, as we know, he was in a coma when he arrived."
"It was like four days or something right?" Yaya asked.
"Yes. He came to on the fourth, he was aggressive and violent towards the staff. So they anaesthetized then restrained him. After that, the weirdness started."
Thokozile's eyes widened as she began to spread her arms.
"Guarded doors, secretive colleagues, restricted access." Crumbs were flying off her biscuit that was getting crushed between the tight grip of her fingers.
"Never mind that. What about what the patient did to Eric?" Nunuza interjected. "His arm was completely mangled. They're talking amputation from the information I got. They're saying this guys strength was not human for someone his size."
"Well, jumping five story's with a mattress then running off like it didn't happen, I think he qualifies as not human." Yaya quipped. “And where was the door guard when he actually needed to be doing his job?”
“Samuel from the diagnostics lab says he met him in the men's bathroom round about the time the drama took place,” Nunuza replied.
"Oh my God," Yaya said looking at Nunuza with an animated face.
The irony caused the ladies to giggle in unison.
”Something beyond our comprehension is going on and I hope this is the last incident we have." Thokozile said after a brief pause brought the seriousness back to the conversation.
"If the patient could fend off bulky men like that in the condition he was in, I don't think we should be dealing with people like that in the future. The hospital needs to protect its staff from dangers of that nature. Ship patients like that to facilities equipped for those types of situations.”
"I agree one hundred per cent," Yaya interjected.
"This was all handled incorrectly. Management knew what was going on but they kept the patient here anyway. It's not right."
"That's right," Thokozile interjected in turn.
"We deserve to know what kind of patients sit in our rooms so we're prepared. Situations like this are a nurse’s worst nightmare.”
“Amen sister,” Yaya and Nunuza exclaimed.
“Anyway, let’s just thank God it's over,” Thokozile concluded.
"Thank God. Amen and Hallelujah." Nunuza quipped.