Sure as Autumn Flame


5 weeks to words

ImageA hot air balloon emerging from the mist,
Perhaps this is what reality looks like under all that morphine.

For months I’ve buried the stirrings of an emotional connect beneath the daily grind,
Only for a fatal incident to open my eyes to the love from friends and others close to my heart  I nearly left behind,
Through morphine and painkillers those memories are fleeting, but real,
As they etched themselves into my heart to remember, to heal.

My friends, you came and chatted, how I hung on to those conversations,
They remind me of our shared laughter and enjoyable moments,
How we’ve grown and paved our path to future destinations;
These I’ve neglected, all in the name of blinded pursuits for success and accomplishments,
And to close a chapter on love and all other emotions.

The days at home can be long and empty,
Filled with images and thoughts but alas they are so damn flighty;
You came by and spent the hours with me when I’m stuck at home and my brain so laggy,
Not my best state, with the world through my eyes turning topsy-turvy.

Touched – I was, a quiet peace that accompanied your presence,
You saw my before and aftermath, never again;
Eight lives I’ve gambled, granted with one – to love, to cherish, to put a smile on others’ faces,
To tell the stories the world ought to hear, and know somewhere, somehow I’ve made a tiny difference.

Stay if you plan to stay, don’t come and go,
The body’s battered, there leaves only the soul.
The former I can play, the latter I keep within,
Bit by bit revealed, through encounters thick and thin.

The recovery path might have seemed easy and nice;
Masked through optimism, character and moments I fantasize;
There have been minutes of frustration, worry and agony,
The fear of losing myself – intelligence, pace and musicality,
The tremble in my veins, not seeing my past wordsmith and ideas surface…

The mind could draw a blank just like that,
I find myself searching my memory banks as though I’ve misplaced the catalogue for them,
Like a confused librarian who has nothing on her hand,
I leave my search to prayers and hope,
While I re-teach myself to think the way I did again.



Post-Surgery: Recalling the accident

For the record, I have no memories of falling off my bicycle. This is similar to a car accident I was in nine years ago, when the left side of my head went into trauma because it was at the point of collision between two cars. One car accident, a trained guard-dog that lunged at me and left a cut in my left eye-lid, a knee operation to repair a torn ligament from a wakeboarding injury, and a brain surgery later – I’ve pretty much chalked up one too many trips to Accident & Emergency units the past 9 years.

I digressed. I flew off the bicycle I was travelling downslope on 12 days ago, after letting the other cyclists fly past me and attempting to slow down. The only thing I remembered – skirting a pothole and wobbling on the bike. I woke up hours later gagging on a breathing pipe stuck down my throat in hospital.

So this was what the rest told me after: I had a gash on the top of my head, some surface wounds on my knees, knuckles, hips and shoulders because I broke my fall with a roll (hence no broken limbs). I was very awake and even checked myself into hospital after the ambulance sent me to Changi General, right down to remembering my phone’s password when others needed to contact my mother.

I even said, “Please don’t tell my mum.” Who would have listened to me then, really?

My boss arrived at the hospital too, thank heavens. An immediate CT scan showed that I had a blood clot in my brain, which didn’t require immediate surgery because it might go away by itself. Alarm bells rang when I was asked what month it was, and I said “February” and I seemed to be falling asleep on the spot. Doctors decided to go ahead with surgery that night.

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So, they cut a C out of my skull to drain the blood clot, and supposedly stitched up my head wound. One of the bones in my ear is also dislodged slightly, due to an impact-related minor fracture between my ear bone and the base of my skull. 12 days later I learned that the wound wasn’t stitched up properly by a junior doctor who happened to be on duty that fateful night, so I sat through a re-stitching by another senior (and cuter) doctor.

It has been almost 2 weeks of strange sensations. This morning, the re-stitch was done with local anesthetic, which allowed me to feel the needle and thread going through and the skin of my head being pulled closer together…with no pain. The feeling of having 25 staples pulled of my skull could not be described otherwise because you literally feel the staples leaving your head. Weirdest feelings, ever.

Waking up after an operation to great girlfriends, a concerned boss and his girlfriend, and my panicked mum was great. Although it was a terrible blur now, for my memory is not exactly at its best right now.

Headaches have been part of everyday life. More interestingly, I am medically certified to disengage from stress, annoyances, grief, drama or anything that causes tension build-up in the brain. They get better day by day, except for throbbing sensations, or when the volume of my mum’s voice goes up a notch.

I can’t handle bright lights, loud noises, too many questions, nor turn around too fast. All these become too much for my senses to absorb, and the brain goes into an overdrive.

The right ear’s deaf from its internal fracture and blood clot, but it would heal over time. Once again, balancing on one leg becomes an issue, and I constantly hear a shrill in my right ear – the kind you hear when you are in a room too quiet.

Stretching becomes painful, because muscles tense up in accidents. I must have had taken half the impact on my butt and left shoulder, because the left shoulder and hamstring protest with each movement I make. It brings to memories the nine months my physio and trainers nursed me back from crutches to running and jumping post knee-surgery; it reminds me how amazing the body is, and the strength it moulds in your character.