Sunday, 12 May 2013

Walking out

The old man struggled determinedly to put his clothes on, though his hands shook and his fingers fumbled; the nurses and the doctor, at the far end of the ward, had their backs to him. He tucked his shirt into the gaping waistband of his trousers. A nurse, half turning, caught sight of him and rushed across the ward. "Please! Getback to bed! You shouldn't be sitting, let alone standing and out of bed!" He stared her down, as the other medical staff followed her to surround him. "I'm leaving". A chorus of "you can't!" " you're too sick" and "please let me help you back into your pyjamas and back into bed".

"I'm leaving. My mind is sound, even if my body is not. I reject this ward. I reject your treatment. I'm leaving". And taking his jacket over his arm, the old man walked, slowly, with difficulty, to the doors at the end of the ward. He stepped out into the corridor, and was gone.

I never saw him again, but his words ran round and round like a loop of film as I lay in the bed, weak, powerless, vulnerable. And I determined I'd do just as he had. And now, six months later, I'm walking out of Ward 5, against the odds, in defiance of their prognosis, I'm walking towards a life they told me I'd never have.

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