That's Life ( Pt 12 )
Dear Diary...it was now Easter. My son went to spend time with his dad and gran for an extra long weekend, from Good Friday, till Easter Monday. I managed to fill my time extremely well, going to my very first greyhound race which was fun, putting a bet on and watching the dogs race around the track, though I never won sadly, it was the first and last race I ever went to.
I also got to a party at my friend's flat on the Saturday night. My recollection was, of us all dancing and singing at the top of our voices to Tainted Love, because we made so much noise and the walls were so thin, we were asked to keep the noise down by the neighbours. My friend was an avid Soft Cell fan, also an ardent Human League admirer too, she just loved the makeup, where as I wasn't at all keen on putting stuff on my face.
That night I never went back to the house, but stayed at the flat and slept on her couch till morning. I recall being woken early with a much needed mug of tea and a slight hangover, which seemed to pass as the morning went on.
Rather than go back to the house, I decided to give mum and dad a ring, asking them if I could come over, luckily they were in and didn't mind, so I treated myself to a taxi which mum and dad paid for.
Spending time with them was nice, I always loved getting out the family photo albums and looking through them with mum, while dad cooked dinner, then I helped mum with the washing up afterwards. It was sad when I had to leave, but they gave me a lift back to the house. By the time I got back I was ready to flop into bed early, so I'd be ready to pick up my son on the Monday, avoiding the family at the cost of my sanity.
We were now well into April, my son was due to go into hospital in a couple of days and I constantly needed to be near him, concerned about the operation he was about to have, mainly because the hole was so close to his vocal chord, it left me with a feeling of concern that his speech could be affected.
I was also continually on my guard, anticipating trouble each time I returned to the family I shared the house with. I had this awful, foreboding that the husband could tell me to lie for him again. My apprehension and suspicion of these people forced me to rethink my situation.
Again on a roller coaster ride of fear, anger and anxiety, not knowing which way, or when the tide would turn, I can only describe the feelings, as like being adrift on that sea of emotions I'd been on many times during this period of my life. So It was then that I decided that on my next visit to the hospital, I'd ask if there was any chance I could stay near my son during his time there, explaining my circumstances.
The hospital staff were very understanding and took me along to the ward where my son would be staying after his operation. It was light and airy, I seem to recall that behind the many cots, were cartoon characters painted on the walls, but as I write I realize I could be recalling another hospital, where my son had grommets inserted in his ears, there had been so many operations during his early years.
There were a number of other Mothers on the ward I was introduced to, with babies about the same age as my son. One particular baby that stood out for me, was born with a hair lip, a cleft pallet and no nose, just the nostrils, his mum was so brave and kept smiling throughout our introductions, telling me that her son would need a few operations, to not only mend the hair lip, but also to build a nose and upper roof to his mouth with skin grafts. It got me thinking how lucky I was to have been born complete, though it didn't change my feelings of concern for my own son.
After saying my goodbyes to those women, the nurse then took me out of the ward and down a short corridor, to some windowed, exit double doors that led outside to what looked like a park, or at least a stretch of green grass from what I remember.
Opposite the ward was a large static caravan. We entered what appeared to be a living area with a comfy sofa, a couple of arm chairs and a television. Then a bit further down a short corridor, were two bedrooms facing each other, with a double bed in each, at the end of the passage was a small room with a sink, toilet and shower. The nurse told me I'd be sharing the caravan with the three other women I'd met in the ward, which for me was fine, it would be good to have some decent company for a change.
When I finally got back to the house, I told the landlady of my plans to stay close to my son during his operation, that the hospital had provided me with accommodation during his stay. Her reply was...as I expected, that I would still have to pay rent on my room. I told her I understood and said it wouldn't be for that long anyway. I had the feeling she wasn't too keen on the plans, but I could see in her face that she didn't want to make my situation any worse considering what I was going through, so she said no more on the subject.
The next day I stayed in, sorting out what I would need to take with me to the hospital, contacting my parents who by now had come to accept my situation, saying they thought I was coping really well. As I told them about their grandchild finally going into hospital and how I'd be staying close by in a caravan, they both said they were glad and would come and see us, hoping everything went off all right.
I was just so desperate to get this day over with, as I sat down and had the first cooked meal I'd eaten since the previous weekend. There was a lot of small talk from the family, but I was far from interested and just tuned out, going into my own thoughts.
Finally, with the meal over I could retreat to my room. Settling my son down for our final night at the house for a while, I switched on the small, second hand black and white television I'd acquired, laying in bed, but not really having a clue as to what I was watching, though the sights and sounds were company that evening.
The next morning I don't recall that much, apart from filling my haversack with items that I would need, telling the landlady I was going, then catching the bus to the hospital, with a feeling of trepidation, but glad to be finally on my way to getting my son healed, though the danger of what he was about to face kept entering my thoughts.
The three other mums were already in the ward, all as apprehensive and eager as I was to get these operations over with, knowing what a difference it would make to our babies, but they would have a lot further to go than me.
After spending much of the day cooped up in the ward with the other mums, chatting and then settling our babies down, the nurse suggested we leave and come back in the morning, so saying our goodbyes we decided to head out to the local takeaway before retiring to the caravan. The walk was much needed after being cooped up all day, also not having to cook was a real treat.
On our return to the caravan, we made ourselves comfortable enjoying our much needed food and watched a bit of television. Now I had three temporary companions, it felt like being back at the refuge again, it was so lucky we all got on well.
Finally I decided to go to bed, saying goodnight to the others. The room felt quite small and claustrophobic with the huge bed that took up most of the area, I had to squeeze around the narrow space between the bed and the wall to get in. There was a shelf that went along the head of the bed, although not wide I remember having to be extra careful not to bang my head when I sat up, finding it easier to have the pillow just that bit further down. There were a couple of fitted wardrobes on the facing wall, that weren't that big, but sufficient for our needs.
I found myself sharing a bed with the mum who had the son with the hair lip and no nose. I pretended to be asleep, feeling awkward and not wanting her to feel uncomfortable. As I lay there curled up in the darkness, I realized how peaceful and quiet it was compared to what I'd had to put up with, for once I was with women who were in the same boat as me, it gave me a sense of calm as I eventually fell asleep.
To be continued...