I’m melting butter. My microwave is one of those posh microwaves, it’s more like an oven so you can’t use it the same way that you would when melting something for thirty seconds. The shortest time you can use it for is two minutes, and it’s automatically 200 degrees Celsius.
That was my undoing. I didn’t realise the cup would be hot. Afterwards I’ve also realised my reflexes weren’t working properly. I can only think of my meds as the culprit. It’s natural to draw your hand away when you feel even the distant hue of something hot. I was able to take a proper hold of the cup and only realise after several seconds how hot it was. Instead of dropping it, I gripped it. My three first fingers and palm burned on my right hand.
I did what you’re supposed to: filled a saucepan with cold water and put my hand in it. Instant relief. I checked online and apparently I might have to do this for up to an hour. Fair dos. Still, it didn’t seem to do anything long-lasting. Every time I went to fill the saucepan and had to take my hand off the water, the pain came back immediately just as vicious.
After two hours of emptying and filling up the saucepan I realised this wasn’t going to work. If my hand was off the cold even for thirty seconds the pain came back. I can handle pain pretty well but this was so bad I thought I was going to faint. Still, I didn’t want to go to hospital. I’m so fucking fed up of going to hospitals. I tried bandaging the angry blisters that were bubbling out of my skin but I’m right-handed.
Also the pain had me doubling up. I never made it far from the cold water tap. I realised I had to stop being a stubborn idiot and get myself to the doctors. I stick my hand out of the cab window to give it some cold air. Every time we stop into red lights is agony. By the time we reach minor injuries I’m crying my eyes out.
At the reception it’s the usual malarkey. This is the thing: I can never quite succumb when something happens. No matter how much pain I’m in, I need to stay sharp enough to answer questions. I need to stay with it because I need to look after myself and my rights.
I’m immediately followed by an elderly couple. The husband has fallen over and has a gash in his forehead. I don’t want to belittle anyone’s suffering but the way his wife is talking to the receptionist about it he’s at death’s door. He’s sitting on the benches with me while she lives out the horrific details. They’re here on holiday so there are a lot administrative details.
At that very specific moment I would’ve given anything to have a wife telling my sorry tale and giving out the mundane administrative details I’m not really in the position to tell as I’m in so much pain I think I might lose the plot at any second. I’m past caring who sees, I just cry.
I hear the receptionist making a phone call, urging a nurse to come as soon as possible because I’m in so much pain. I thank her quietly.
There is a young couple sitting opposite to me. The girl has done something to her fingers as well as the bundle of paper tower around them has blood on it. She rests her head against her boyfriend’s shoulder, who has his arm around her.
I feel so alone that I would’ve given anything to have a boyfriend to lean against. A mum, a dad, a friend, a cousin, a nice neighbour. I close my eyes.
The nurse comes to get me. She puts my hand into water again and I cry because it’s too hot. She explains it’s not hot but I feel like it’s hot because my hand is still burning. She fills it again with colder water but it can’t be too cold because then it won’t be of any use. The head nurse comes to see me and I cry because it hurts so much. She puts her arms around me and it feels so nice that I cry even harder.
She says I’ll get stronger pain relief.
I’m left alone while waiting for the pill and I call my care-coordinator who I’m supposed to see in half an hour’s time. He’s based in the same hospital. I cry down the phone line. Besides my mum, this person has heard me cry more than anyone.
I tell him what happened.
“By accident or on purpose?” he asks in a matter-of-fact way, without emotion in one way or another. It calms me down. I like it when matters are dealt with in a neutral way. It’s not the end of the world, we’ll get it sorted.
“Can you come?”
In fifteen minutes’ time he’s sitting next to me. He’s not someone I can lean my head against but just his presence is enough. For once I’m not alone.
Once I’m medicated I stop crying. My care-coordinator takes me home. I have to wait outside his office for a while. My hand is covered in bandages.
Is this it? Is this how my life is going to be like?
All of a sudden I get reminded of a time long ago when my then boyfriend had done something once again.
There was something different about this time though, something reaffirming. Final. It was almost like surrendering. Giving in to the idea that this is going to be the state of affairs and there is no use to expect anything to change. This is it now, this is how my life is going to be like.
There is no sorrow though. Just acceptance.
I guess it’s all right. I seem to have adjusted quite well haven’t I.