Last year, during my mum’s first diagnosis of lung cancer she was prescribed steroids, on which, taking the prescribed amount, she overdosed. The effects were terrifying.
I was living away from home, a 3 hour train journey. On Thursday evening, we chatted on the phone; I was at a work event and was surprised that she had called so late, but I thought little of it and turned my phone onto silent when I got home and snuggled into bed.
I was woken the next morning by a lady who I lived with; my Dad was on the phone and he was hysterical. My mum had been up all night, shouting and exercising and trying to convince my little sister that she needed me to come home and turn the gas on. I checked my phone to find 46 missed calls from my mum. My Dad cried, as he told me that my mum was being admitted hospital and that he needed me to come home. I rang my line manager, Kim, and tried to leave a message but I was crying so hard, I could barely breathe. Something was wrong with my mum and I was so far away; I felt powerless. I knelt down on the beautiful, purple shag rug, that I had cried on so many times since my grandma had passed away 5 months before, and prayed that God would be with my family and the doctors. That he would give them peace and wisdom. That my mum would be well.
I started to pack but my head was a mess. Why hadn’t I planned this before? I knew I could be called home for an emergency but never once had I thought of packing an emergency bag or even writing an emergency packing list. Now, frightened for my mum, I couldn’t think. Kim called me back and within 30 minutes she was outside my door, loading my bags into her boot. I was so thankful; I could have gotten a train or a bus into the city but being able to talk to Kim on the way to the station was such a comfort.
I had done the train ride so many times before, I usually enjoyed the time and space to myself but now it seemed to stretch on. When I arrived at the hospital, my mum was blabbering random words and my family we’re conversing with her as if she was speaking normally. I was taken aback by this and wondered if this was even real. After a while, my younger sister told me that she had been speaking like that since the early morning and that they had decided to pretend she was having a conversation with them as it made the whole thing easier. I struggled with this so kept quiet; but after a while, I began to make sense of her ramblings. Her random words we’re not random words!
They were memories. I would say something like, “I’m hungry,” to which she replied, “Dutch apple, train, toilet, sandwich.” My mum was referring to the cafe nearby which she had brought me to several months before after picking me up from the train station because I was desperate for the toilet, I was excited that I’d found a dutch apple cake there. She could understand us, and what’s more she could commuicate back. Excitedly, I began talking with my mum and we had a wonderful conversation, as the afternoon wore on she began to get her senses back and the conversations became fuller and clearer.
Later in the day, she pulled out “50 Shades of Grey” and began to read aloud. My sister and I sat quietly, listening to words and sentences that we’d never thought we’d hear. A male nurse entered the room to collect her food tray and my mum smiled at him as she continued to read a pretty graphic scene. My sister and I could no longer stay quiet and burst into fits of giggles. My mum had no idea she’d been reading aloud!
During this strange episode my mum had tried to tell us about a sister she believed she had. We told her that it wasn’t true, reminded her that her mother had only 2 children and that she was the youngest. There was so much that were yet to find out…