I hate these bays. I feel so exposed. They are completely open – that’s sort of the point – and anyone can just wander past and look at all the inhabitants. No privacy at all. Combine that with the hourly checks by the nursing staff and there is absolutely no possibility of relaxation…which is ironic, really, given the condition that I – and doubtless plenty of others here – suffer from.
Worse still, I don’t wear pajamas. Any other time of year and this wouldn’t be a problem at all, I’d just sleep in my t-shirt and boxers, but at the time of writing it’s the height of summer. Bloody roasting during the day, uncomfortably muggy during the night. So every time a nurse pops his or her head around my curtain I’m at least half naked! I know, I know; you’re chuckling away at that image. I’d probably find it funny too…if it didn’t put me on edge.
Most of the bay is empty, gratifyingly enough. The guy in the bed opposite is Padraig, a Leeds United fan. He’s pretty chatty; we talked politics and football for a while. Seems a nice bloke…but it’d be nice to able to say, “Well, see you later!” and actually end the conversation in the normal fashion. Oh well.
Despite all these niggling little anxieties, the fact of the matter is that I am much happier in this protective environment than I am on the outside. I sometimes wonder if freedom is wasted on me. The limitlessness of possibility, of choice, of responsibility…just terrifies me in a way I find hard to communicate. Some people think of hospital as prison, presumably for the way it can deprive patients – or ‘service users’ as is the term now – of various liberties…but I just cannot relate to that notion. On the couple of occasions I’ve had a stint in a medical institution, it has been the most liberating and comforting experience of my life.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that those “who give up essential Liberty, to purchase some temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. Then again, at the time he wrote that line, he was a slave owner who profited from domestic and international slave trade and had even criticised those slaves who had fled to join the British Colonial Army in the 1740’s and 50’…so fuck that guy. Clearly didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…∞