I awake in darkness. My stomach feels like an old Victorian boiler, all churns and gurgles and gasps of gas. But my head doesn’t hurt. Not yet. I know if the headache comes, so will the vomiting. I ease myself out of bed, careful not to disturb my slumbering husband, and make my way through the familiar darkness towards the kitchen to find pain killers. But I don’t get there. The Victorian boiler objects, adding compression and cramps to its increasingly violent protests. I’m going to be sick, I’m sure of it. I divert to the toilet, crouching on all fours above the bowl. My body burns, my hands so wet they slip on the tiled floor. The urge to vomit eases, but I’m so hot. I’m in a state of near collapse, confined in this narrow space. Not good. I crawl backwards, then stagger to my feet, clutching at the door frame for support.
The words filter through and I recognise my name and Peter’s voice, and that I’m lying on a floor. But I can’t respond. The me inside my head has no control of my body. He tries to move me, tells me to put my arms around his neck but I can’t. There’s no panic, no frustration. I just can’t. Then I’m face down on the tiles. They’re so cool on my fevered skin it’s pleasant lying there. Peter pushes a pillow under my head.
I fight to speak. “Cool.”
“Should I call an ambulance?”
I’m back. I’m panting, and burning hot but I’m aware of my body, and that it needs the toilet. “No. Toilet.”
From there, I recovered enough for him to help me to bed. Piecing it together from what I recall and what Peter saw, I think I got halfway standing up, then lost consciousness and slumped around the door frame onto the floor. He was awakened by the loud thump. He put his hand out, found I wasn’t in bed and went looking. I can only imagine his fear when he found me lying on my back, my eyes open, one eye looking up, the other to the left. He says I muttered, “Hot” but to him my skin was cold and clammy, and I don’t recall saying anything. He tried to get me up, but I passed out again so he laid me face down on the floor.
That’s when I started to recover.
I’m telling this very personal story because of how I felt. I remember trying to haul myself upright, but passing out is like going into darkness, stepping through a door into nothingness. A void. A place with no dimensions, no thought, no feeling, no awareness. When I returned from this place I had no idea what had happened or why I was where I was. But the scariest thing was being unable to move, or speak, when I desperately wanted to. And even though I desperately wanted to, no panic, no anger – just the simple recognition that I couldn’t.
Later, I wondered if that’s how people feel when they die. If it is, I’m okay with that. I’m happy to pass into a void. Not that I’m suggesting for a moment that this was a near death experience. But I’ve fainted before because of blood loss, and as soon as I heard the voice ask, “Are you okay?” I was able to evaluate my physical circumstances and answer with absolute certainty, “No.”
This time, when the void spat me out I was present. The driver was in the cab, hands on the controls. But the controls wouldn’t work.
It’s cathartic to write this down. I expect I’ll use it in a story sometime.