Turbulence Part 3… Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Watching old scifi is a bit of a favourite pastime in the Taylor-Beales household. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (both the 1956 and 1968 versions) has often been our choice of late night viewing. The story centres on an alien invasion. The aliens take over the bodies of people while they sleep at night turning them into “pod people” devoid of human emotion. To avoid this terrible fate, the humans have to keep awake at all times. It was a longstanding joke that when Bill and I were driving home extra late from a gig we’d turn to each other saying “Keep Awake!!” (in an attempt at a Donald Sutherland impression.)
Two weeks after my fall in Italy, Bill was booked in to have major reconstruction surgery in his right hand. He’d been suffering as a result of a misdiagnosis for the last 18 months with a very painful injury that had left his one of his bones unattached to the ligaments. The operation was all meant to be routine. The hospital was to call me when everything was completed and our lovely friend Becky would be able to pick Bill up and bring him home. 8 hours later we still hadn’t had the phone call. I rang the hospital and was told to ring back in an hour. I rang back when I finally got through to the ward a staff member on the other end sounded strangely anxious. She said that she “… couldn’t give me details on the phone” but urged me to “Get to the hospital ASAP.”
Visiting hours had long since passed but Becky and I were mistaken for inpatients. My muscles were locked in deep cramps and spasm at that point and all I could do was literally inch my way forward using the crutches I’d been given. Becky’s wrists were also in bandages due to RSI. It was both surreal and comical being overtaken by elderly patients using zimmer frames as we shuffled at a snail’s pace along the corridors.
Bill wasn’t in the recovery room. A nurse greeted us, with the words “We’re monitoring him, we’ve got to make sure that he stays awake.”
It turned out that he’d suffered an almost fatal reaction to the morphine and had gone into what they call “respiratory depression” meaning his breathing was slowing to the point that his vital organs were beginning to shut down. It had taken two doctors and three nurses, several hours to bring him back around. Bill regained consciousness as he was having his face literally slapped to wake him up and keep him awake, while being slowly being given an antidote to the morphine, (meaning he had no pain relief after his major surgery.) He remembers seeing one of the nurses crying and watched her being escorted over to the corner of the room. He later realised that she was crying because she’d thought he was going to die. We were ushered into the side room and I was shaken by the fact that he looked like death. The last time I’d seen someone with that translucent skin colour, was our friend Rob, in the days just before he’d died. Bill could hardly talk, we just had to try and keep him awake… we weren’t even sure if he could really hear us as he lay there attached to the multiple machines monitoring his vitals, when suddenly he whispered something in a hoarse thin voice. I leaned in close on my crutches to hear him. He was making a joke…
“It’s like the Body Snatchers… I must not fall asleep.” was the one thing he managed to say that evening.
That night I lay awake in a state of shock. In the past 2 weeks I had come face to face with my biggest fears. The fear I’d experienced that I might have killed our unborn daughter still haunted me. The reality that I’d also almost lost my husband was overwhelming. I was indescribably grateful they were both alive and completely shaken by how close I’d come to losing them. I cried a lot. I was still exhausted from the efforts of the epic journey it had been to get back to the UK. I was barely sleeping as the pain from my injuries kept me awake.
My nerves were shattered.
When Bill was finally discharged, he was still fragile, in a lot of pain form the surgery and obviously unable to use his right hand.
Our amazing friends Pete and Becky moved in and became our carers for the next few weeks. We will be forever thankful for the support of such friends.