I was dazed and confused. Yet, I managed to slowly open my eyes. I thought I saw people moving, but soon I became aware that it was me. I was in a bed of some kind and someone was wheeling me through the corridors of the hospital.
Suddenly, I realised I was thirsty – incredibly thirsty. There was a nurse walking beside my bed with me. I asked for a drink, which she promised to get me once we got to the ward. Then, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
Later, I woke up in darkness except for a solitary shadow sitting in front of a dim light between two curtains. It was a nurse. My need for water was now verging on desperate, so I asked her for a drink. She said no!
I tried to turn so I could face her and change her mind. It was then I realised that I could not move. I was strapped to the bed like a criminal. And, there was an incredible weight on top of my right hip. I didn’t know what it was as I couldn’t see it or feel it with my hands. But it was uncomfortable!
I could not understand what was happening to me. So I lay there in the darkness alone and confused.
I asked the malevolent shadow for a drink one more time. I was firmly told no and to stop asking. Then she held up a novel and started to read. I couldn’t sleep so I just stared into the blackness above me.
I was angry at myself. Why hadn’t I taken notice of the warning signs that had come before?
Towards the end of term 3, I have been driving to school in Sarina when I felt a sudden and strange pain in my chest. It only lasted a few minutes, but then I started feeling nauseous. I pulled over and was sick all over the edge of the highway. After a moment or two, I felt fine again and continued my drive to work.
I taught until morning tea and felt fine for most of that time. Yet, towards the end of the morning session, my back started aching. Instead of going to the staff room for a coffee, I ducked into a small resource room next door. There I lay flat trying to alleviate my back pain. A few people walked by and asked if I was alright, to which I dutifully answered yes.
By the end of morning tea, I knew I could not continue teaching that day. I let the office know that I needed to go home sick. Then, I return to class while arrangements were being made for someone to look after my Year 7 class.
They were sitting on the carpet in front of me, they often did. I told them that I was really unwell and that I would be going home soon. Being the wonderful class that they were, they were concerned. Yet when I told them I was nauseous, they frantically shuffled backward like stampeding animals .
At some stage I must have nodded off because morning came, along with a doctor I hadn’t seen before. He came up to my bed, introduced himself and told me he was the heart consultant that would be looking after me.
He explained that I had a balloon pump in my leg as my heart was damaged and not working properly. I was strapped down because if I moved the pump was become dislodged and I would die. The pump was just above my right leg, which was weighted down to keep that part of my body even more still.
My thirst had not abated. In fact, it was worse than ever. Yet I was told that if I had a drink I would die. I started to think that all roads were leading to death.
At some stage, my wife and children arrived. I’m not sure when but they had driven up from Mackay. The doctor took her aside to talk with her. He told her that I would die within the next day or two. I don’t know if I overheard their conversation or whether I heard it somewhere else, but I knew – I just knew.
I looked out the glass window. It was grey and raining. All I could think about was that I wouldn’t see my two wonderful children graduate. A single tear slowly made its way down my cheek.