In Sickness and in Health: In this land of no answers, the questioner is king

With my husband still confused due to his head injury, I sometimes feel like I'm the only guest on an emotional version of Question Time

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The Independent Online

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

It was a rare moment. Tortoises on prime-time telly! I’d been looking forward to the BBC adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esiotrot. I’m not one for TV shows that aren’t about history, or cooking, or the seaside. However, as Esiotrot featured hundreds of tortoises, being a tortoise owner, I was very keen to catch it. I missed the first 15 minutes, but was in front of the telly by the time the first tortoise appeared. It rapidly became clear that despite the TV listings, I was actually settling down for Question Time. “Where are we?”

“In the care home.”

“Where’s that?”

“Up the M11, poppet. It’s on the map up there on the wall.”

“When’s dinner coming?”

“You’ve had your dinner.”

“What was it?”

“Chicken. You can have a cheese straw if you like, but then can I watch this programme? You’ll like it – it has tortoises in it.”

The cheese straw held his attention for about 30 seconds.

“I’m hungry. Can I have another cruncher? Why am I so hungry?”

“Well, you didn’t eat solid food for more than four months, so your body is making up for lost time.”

“What happened to me?”

“You were run over and you were in a coma, but you’re getting much better now. Have another cheese straw and let me watch this. You can ask me all the questions you like afterwards.”

“Can I ask one more question?”

“Yes, poppet.”

“How do I get out of bed?”

“The carers come and put you in a sling, then use the hoist to lift you up and pop you in your wheelchair.”

“When can I come home?”

“You need to get a bit better, and I need to sort our flat out, get some work done on it, rent it out and find somewhere where we can live near my parents. Come on now – let’s watch this.”

“What time is it?”

“Seven o’clock”.

“OK. When’s dinner?”

“You’ve had dinner. Here’s a cheese straw.”

“Is there any beer?”

“Beer?! No there’s not.”

“Is there any tea?”

“I’ll go and make you a cup.”

“Will you come back?”

“Of course I will.”

The tortoises marched on as I made the tea.

“Can I ask a question?”

“You can, but then will you let me watch this?  I’ve been looking forward to it.”

“OK. Have you ever been to Liverpool?”

“No my love.”

“Have…?”

“That’s more than one question. Please let me watch the tortoises.”

A brief silence. I look over to Nick, whose eyes are shiny with tears.

“What’s wrong my angel?”

“Are you sick of me?”

“Of course I’m not. I just want to watch this.”

“Why do you stay with me?”

“Because I love you.”

“I love you too. Will you marry me again?”

“Yes. That’s a lovely question.”

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