In sickness and in health: All at sea on the night my world turned upside down

Earlier this year, Rebecca’s husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns, she writes about the aftermath of his accident

 

Share

When I think about the night when things changed from before to after, certain images come to mind. It’s a sort of internal Instagram feed of emergency. The cosy, crowded pub studded with amber post-work pints. The “no caller ID” that flashed on my phone’s screen. The wooden slats of a beer-garden table. The bright lights of a bureau d’exchange where the police picked me up. The blur of the streets outside the car. The two policemen sitting in a corridor waiting room, wearing inarguable black and white.

The startlingly orange bag that the ambulance crew carried, the bag containing my husband’s clothes, cut away from him after the accident. For a horror-struck moment, I thought it was a Sainsbury’s bag. Imagine! Fighting for your life after being hit by a car and your worldly possessions are bundled into a supermarket carrier bag. I’m glad I got that wrong - it was just an unbranded, standard issue orange bag. Strange what comes as a relief.

The view from the window that looked out over Paddington Basin, lined with dozing canal boats tucked up for the night. The little red plastic chair in an otherwise empty room next to A&E. It looked uncomfortable enough to give to unwanted guests at work who you don’t want lingering at your desk. It was. No wonder, then, that the clearest image, clearer even than my husband lying cold, unconscious and under a medical lilo (actually an inflatable blanket to try and bring his body temperature up), who I was allowed to see for a few minutes before he was taken up to ICU, was the floor of my empty room next to A&E.

Blue, sky blue, as far as the eye could see. Not least because the eye was attached to someone curled up on the floor in their coat, someone who had lost the strength to do battle with the chair, who knew that everything had changed. I suppose it’s a beautiful blue, summery and bright. It splashed up the walls a few inches, like the water it resembled lapping the sides of the room. It wasn’t a solid, one-note block of blue, though, but mottled with darker patches, as the sea looks on a sunny day and the darker spots seem to be sudden patches of immense depth - here be sea monsters! The only times I can think of looking at a floor at such close quarters have been when I’ve been sick, lying sweating on the bathroom floor staring up at the ocean liner of the loo. Then the patterns of the floor - cork at home, marble at work, become fascinating, because they take my mind off the matter in hand. Not that it worked so well this time.

When the doctors came to find me, they saw a crumpled woman in the coracle of her coat. All at sea, with the floor having fallen out from under her. An image I’d like to forget.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine