His voice pulls me back from the depths into which I am sinking: “Is she gone?” My eyes snap open, the edges of my vision feel blackened and blurred, and I have the sensation that the rest of my body is submerged in a dark, bottomless ocean, with only my face peeking through. I can feel myself slipping again even as he looks at me and smiles, “Oh,” he says, “not yet.” In an instant, I am gone.
My second surfacing feels whiter, brighter. The voice that echoes in my head gains in proximity and volume. My eyes swim into focus to find a face, broad, gentle and warm, gazing down at me. Gone are the inverted disco ball of operating lights, the discomfort of being scrutinised by unfamiliar eyes, the sensation of being swallowed by anaesthetic. Instead, I am bundled tightly in layers of blankets, safe and warm. Despite this, my whole body is shivering with force.
“It’s all over, everything went fine,” the nurse in recovery says kindly. “And look, here is your screw.” She opens a folder and shows me a small plastic bag with, would you believe it, a dark grey titanium screw – until an hour prior, the screw that held the broken bone in my foot in place for close on 18 months.
I smile limply, lazily, ask for water, and want to know whether I have said anything stupid in the last few minutes. I have been under anaesthetic several times and, when I come round, have been known to tell the nurses off for interrupting my dreams, to demand details on the contents of the drip I can feel digging into me, and to ask for muesli. It seems I behaved myself this time round.
It has been close on three months now since my screw was removed, and although I was back on crutches for a week, the recovery was exponentially quicker. It’s almost as though it never happened. Nothing but a small, rapidly disappearing scar remains on my right foot. A fading testament to an accident in Argentina that changed the course of my little life in a number of unexpected ways – many of which I am still figuring out.