Picture the scene: It’s Wednesday evening. I am sitting in bed, watching something unnoteworthy on my laptop. A glass of wine and a bag of crisps are on the trolley next to my bed. My nose starts to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. Eventually it stops. So far there is nothing of note, except perhaps that I only started getting nose bleeds a couple of weeks ago. Up until then my nose was cooperative.
I look down.
My stomach is covered in bright red fluid. And more is gushing out of my skin. The hole in my tummy is leaking quite profusely. My peg site is bleeding.
The thing to do in this situation is to call the helpline number you are given when you first get your feeding tube. So I do. They take my details and assure me a nurse will call back within twenty minutes. I wait and I wait. So many possibilities are flooding through my mind as I sit nervously looking at the phone. Eventually it rings and I am told to go to a&e. Reluctantly I oblige, it is 8.30pm now, I know I’m in for a long wait and a late night.
As I get into my carer’s car, I see a slither of pale gold moon. It’s been a long time since I saw the moon. I am hooked up to my feeding tube at 7pm and until 8.30am I am restrained by a 4 foot leash. The moon does not fit into such man made constraints. Despite the circumstances, I smile involuntarily. It’s been a long time since I saw the moon.
After what feels like several days and several nights sitting under the bright lights of the waiting room, we are called in to see a doctor. My stomach is pressed and I giggle, my tummy is ticklish. A light is shone up my nose and she peers at the back of my mouth.
A nosebleed from my tummy. That is her diagnosis. We laugh. We exclaim. And I hurriedly text my closest friends hoping they will share my amusement.
All the way home I am tickled by this. But I know that I will sleep with a towel, just in case it flares up again. Blood stained sheets and pyjamas are less funny.
We pull up outside my flat and as I get out, I look up. The night is scattered with stars. They weren’t there when we left; the dusky sky had been stage only to the moon and to Venus. Now, the myriad of dots join to form a bear, or a saucepan, Ursa Major. My heavy eyes scan the sky looking for other familiar patterns.
It’s been a long time since I saw the moon. It’s been even longer since I saw the stars. But I haven’t forgotten. The Great Bear, the Little Bear and that starry queen, Cassiopeia, are etched on my soul. The three constellations that I always remember.
For the briefest moment, the blink of an eye, I am transported back to my parent’s driveway. Staring up at the starry sky, standing next to my dad, trying to figure out what he’s pointing to, attempting to look through his eyes. It’s a cold, winter’s night and I’ve just got home from Guides. There were more stars then.
Other creatures hide in the clouds, disappear behind houses and fall away as tired eyes close. The door opens and I fall into my flat.