5 March 23
Dear Readers, my dispatches will always be free and open to everyone. I am unable to use my hands and I’m writing, via dictation, with the help of my family. If you could become a paid subscriber and support me, it’d mean so much.
I am waiting for my hypnotist to call. He’s been recommended by a friend; I have worked with him before, years ago when I had a writers’ block. It did actually work insofar as I was able to continue as a writer, fortunately or unfortunately for the public. Let’s hope he has magical healing powers this time as well.
For the first couple of weeks after my accident on Boxing Day in Rome, I was drugged and pretty much knocked out from the trauma of the accident though I conceived the idea of this blog was writing well and almost continuously. Then I was moved here to this rehab clinic in order to receive physiotherapy twice a day.
It took me some time to get used to the utterly seriously nature of my illness and how life-changing and permanent it actually is. There’s no going back though I wish all the time there was.
I made friends almost immediately, made an effort to fit in, and get used to the institution. But one friend known as the Maestro has become seriously ill with pleurisy and has been moved from this rehab to another hospital. And the other friend, Miss S, has been suffering from pneumonia and could be depressed. I hardly see her now.
There were various projects I was working on such as this blog, a documentary I was interested in making, and a charity I wanted to set up for other disabled people. But recently I’ve started to feel that I’m breaking down; the sheer tedium of being in the same room all day and all night; feeling that others are speaking over me in a language I don’t understand.
The constant medical interventions - whether for my own good or not – have started to create in me a series of anxieties, fears and paranoias that I can’t overcome by will power.
My defences, usual good cheer and love of jokes can’t get me through this: the hospital smell, the despair, and the hatred of my condition, the constant realisation that it is - for at least the time being - permanent. It has reduced me to a hopelessness I’ve never known in my life before. I’ve started to experience a terrible Edgar Allen Poe feeling of being entombed in my own body.
I’m struggling to escape myself but it is impossible. I exist in a constant state of panic, fear and tearfulness.
Also Isabella, who’s been looking after me for most of the day, is suffering from exhaustion and anguish. It is as if the trauma has happened to her as well. At times we have minor arguments we’ve never had before which we have to ensure don’t become more serious. It’s as if this accident has made me more aggressive and angrier.
I’m in a constant rage which isn’t surprising. Tracey and the children are also suffering from various symptoms that appear to have come out of this accident.
My hope at the moment is to get out of here and return to London where at least I’ll be in a more familiar environment, and with friends nearby who will at least be able to visit. What I need is distraction and companionship. The worst part of the day is the early evening when Isabella puts on her coat and leaves.
When I see her walk out of the door, I know I have to survive the whole night and early morning without her conversation and that is the hardest part of an already difficult day.
My possible exit which I desire as soon as possible presents numerous logistical problems. I can’t just walk out of this place. And there’s the issue of where I might go and the bureaucratic protocols that are required when moving hospital following a serious injury.
I’ve often wondered whether I’m quite an indecisive person. Sitting here alone in my wheelchair, I have plenty of time to reflect on how I have lived my life so far. I know there are many matters and times and occasions in my life when I haven’t taken action when it would have benefited me.
I have been cautious, nervous and hysterically shilly-shallying and have expected less from the world than it might have given me if I had shown more courage and backed my own desire better, and if I had been less afraid of what others might think.
One never knows what others might think until one tests them. But at least my accident seems to have given me the impression that indecisiveness is not going to help me. I know for sure that I need to get out of here.
My son Sachin has been here for the last two days and my mental state seems to have stabilised. I have spent most of my life in some form of isolation because reading and writing, my major preoccupations, are I things one does alone. I always enjoyed my own company, music and long walks. That’s not what I need now.
This blog is not one of the most optimistic and I still haven’t heard from the hypnotist. Whatever: I have always been determined when writing this blog to say it as I feel it, and at the moment, this darkness is my truth. Even writing this in the hope of making some kind of communication has been some kind of relief.
More positive stuff next time. Drugs and porn coming up.
Your loving writer Hanif x
Hanif, your vulnerability is a tremendous point of connection in this human experience wrought with suffering in many permutations. It is this suffering we all share in our own ways that binds us together and that illuminates and amplifies the profound beauties and subtle majesties of life — yet of course this can feel so out of reach in this dark place you’re in. I suffered a traumatic brain injury 14 years ago that had me in months of neurorehab and the hopelessness of that time still makes me shudder. I found others in similar positions and I felt validated in the compounding traumas I was experiencing. I was also able to normalize that my debilitated brain was actually fueling feelings of anger, agitation, impatience, etc because my frontal cortex was so injured I couldn’t make decisions, couldn’t process what was happening, and was locked in a limbic overdrive that was not only psychological but physical — a fear state much like what you describe. Wishing you courage to make the move you need for your ultimate well-being. I can only imagine how supportive it would be to your recovery to be in a familiar place — softening the stressors, soothing the sensation of being out of control. The bad, dark days are inevitable. And you are still handling them with immense grace, as demonstrated here.
I am sitting at my desk in front of an east-facing window, feet on the desk, sun on blinding new snow outside. I'm in central Maine. I can hear, faintly, the sound of our wind chimes on the west side of the house. I'm reading your words, imagining where you are, so far away, sitting in a wheelchair, trying to encompass your darkness and the changes you're experiencing. I think about anguish, despair, frustration, anger, grief, loss -- the human experiences we all share. I think about my own introversion and need for solitude combined with the terrible loneliness and sense of isolation I've sometimes experienced. I want you to know your words reach me. I read them. They move me to tears, to laughter. I cannot help you. I cannot fix you. I cannot visit you or give you back what you've lost, but when you write I read, I imagine, I am touched and made bigger by your presence. Don't let go of me, of us, of the world. You still belong to Life. Don't let go. Keep us close with your words. I am here. We are here. You are not alone.