Hi there, can you hear me? Can you tell me your name? These are questions I would hear again and again, after dancing the amber waltz. Sometimes, I would answer, other times I would simply nod my head in approval. Where was I, what exactly happened to me? A blink of an eye later, I was in the exact same situation. Alright then, so this is not a dream after all. At 5:15 AM, on October 31st, I found myself in an emergency room, telling the nurses that I was alright and that they should take care of other people who had danced along with me. How foolish I was to believe that the show was over, along with the dance. That was just the beginning of my challenge. At first, I wasn't feeling down, not at all. I felt no pain, my body was numb, my mind was blank.
I was also unaware of the people around me, who helped me feel no pain and eventually got me on my feet again. By the time I realised what happened, a war had begun, a war in which I was both my worst enemy and my best of friends. As days went by, I took turns on both sides of the field. One day I would be on the verge of madness, shooting bullets at myself for not being able to stand up and walk. Other times I would convince myself that all this is just a phase and that I have the strength to move forward. Easier said than done, isn't it always like that? There have been certain points in my life when I simply took a deep breath and relaxed, even if I was in the middle of a storm. This time was no exception. My brain needed some information, in order to comprehend the matter and decide how on earth to approach the situation. For it was all new to me, I hadn't been in a similar situation before. So, let's start with some basic facts: can you show me where it hurts? Now that's a good one, where exactly does it hurt? My hands are sore, my back is burning. I also cannot move my head properly. The pain is coming through in waves and I feel like I have a fever. Could I speak properly? That's what I thought but my lips were moving and no one could hear what I was saying. How could such a thing be possible? I cannot explain, you'd have to be in my place to understand. For I had become comfortably numb. It all started with one little pin prick, to get things going. Many more would follow and that made me feel a little sick.
Especially after the pin pricks which lead me to fall asleep before the surgeries. Throughout the procedures, there were moments when I had lost touch of reality. I literally had no clue where I was, there was a carrousel which was spinning me round and round even if the operating table was silently stiff. Waking up was no easy task, for my brain had fallen in the trap of believing that dreams and reality had switched places. To ease the pain of the awakening, a magic potion would make me feel like wings were growing on my shoulders. For now, the pain was gone but not for long. It would make me startle and burn my back yet again, within a few hours. Days and nights passed by so slowly back then. I remember being able to tell when it was noon time by the golden sunlight reflecting in the windows of the ICU. At night, the pain would increase and insomnia would be there, regardless if I desired its presence or not. It would not leave my side, probably to keep me from losing my mind. The sharp whistling sound made by the oxygen masks was another element which haunted my sleep and kept it far away from me. Time went by so that I could see my mother for no more than 5 minutes, at the beginning.
She could not come closer to me so that I would not be harmed. What an amusing paradox, that was. The person I needed the most at that point, could not be by my side, for my own safety. I had to heal and become stronger if I wanted my mother to be closer to me. However, in the first days after the surgeries I wasn't even able to stand up and take a few steps on my own. I needed at least two people to support me. I like to call those people super-humans for their amazing healing powers. If it wasn't for them, I'd have probably given up on myself a long time ago. Oh, I remember when I saw my reflection. What a shock! I couldn't believe my eyes. In the mirror there was a person covered in bandages, with pale skin and short hair. That was not me, was it? Was it? Damn, her eyes are of a green haze with shades of blue, just like mine. Dear Lord, what has become of me? In the following weeks I had to re-learn everything, one step at a time, just like a child. I learned how to get out of bed on my own, eat with my left hand because my right hand had been severely injured and last but not least, walk on my own two feet again.
What kept me going through the show was the idea that this carousel had to stop spinning at some point and that I shall get out of the crystal globe in which I had to remain, until my skin was completely healed. I've learned to accept the feeling of pain but I have not allowed it to take command. When my lips move now, people can hear what I'm saying. I caught a glimpse of the fire within me and I understood how strong I've become. In order to stop the crystal carrousel from spinning, I had to learn how to control it. What was the most delicate step? Understanding the importance of becoming comfortably numb. For being numb does not mean being weak, it means being able to heal.
*The photograph depicts the King Arthur Carrousel @ Disneyland. The song which lead me to write this second chapter is Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. Crystal Carrousel is about my experience whilst being hospitalized after the fire.*