Chapter 16

The decision to stay or go

I seemed to regain consciousness late that night, in the small private room we had been sequestered to. An image that will be with me forever pervaded my consciousness, I was looking down at myself in the bed, and I remember feeling a permeating sense of calm. It felt so peaceful to be above my concerns, as though there were no real problems. Now, years later when I remember that night, I’m not sure if I was dreaming or what, I only know I was given the choice on whether or not I was going to stay or go. (Thinking about that night, now, I can still access that overwhelming sense of calm, like no matter what, it will be right.) There was no rush; time seemed to have stopped, as if it had no meaning. I never saw any bright lights or a tunnel, yet I felt I was not alone, as though I was surrounded with something that was all encompassing, it’s hard to describe the peacefulness I felt, the tranquillity. I was nothing by myself and I was part of something much bigger than myself, within the realization I saw two paths before me. I knew this cessation of turmoil was temporary, I guess I could have enjoyed it longer but as always I rushed the experience.

I have a mental image of myself looking down at my parents and my husband, all uncomfortably asleep slumped over in the chairs, waiting to ring for the emergency doctor, when/if I stopped breathing. The tracheotomy kit beside the bed, where I lay asleep, I wondered if, or how, they would get by without me. (it’s amazing my ego fit into the room). I had a sense they needed me, probably couldn’t get through this without me. I thought about all the effort they had put into keeping me alive to this point and I came to the realisation that I hadn’t really done anything towards my recovery yet except to approve or disapprove of the different treatments that had come along.

It had been a challenge and a game so far. It hadn’t really hit home. Now, in this endless moment, I actually felt that if I chose to leave I would be letting them down, all their ceaseless efforts, and I couldn’t go. There were no incites into the future, I wish there were, no visions of what I would go through, just a need to stay.

I later would remember feeling uncomfortable, guilty, but that was later, after I had woken up. I held onto this guilt for years, every time I went into a ‘poor me’ mode, or depression, I would feel this self-righteous blame. I would feel that I had only stayed around for their sake and they should be more appreciative of me. Of course I didn’t think this in so many words, but underneath it all, it was there.

Finally I was able, through a combination of life’s experiences and counselling, to come to an understanding of who I was. What I had gained through what I had been through. What I wanted now, and that I have always been at choice. Even recollecting that night where I was busy blaming my parents and my husband for taking the choice away from me, I was really making up my mind to carry on, to follow where my path would lead me. I just didn’t want to take responsibility for it all the time.