In sickness and in health: My creature comforts have never meant so much

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

It started with a fox. A small, stuffed fox with fluffy cheeks and a handsome face. We bought him at Harrods and didn’t know what we’d unleashed.

Almost 10 years on, I’m overrun with stuffed animals. Not taxidermy (well, apart from the pine marten and the fox head), but cuddly animals. Foxes, turtles, tortoises, snakes, a crocodile as long as I am tall, donkeys, sharks (hammerhead as well as dog), an octopus, a clam, an eel, Bagpuss, other assorted cats, a hedgehog, a duck-billed platypus, a rat, a camel, a giraffe, frogs (one acquired since Nick’s been in hospital, the other a much-patched beanbag from childhood) and a couple of koalas. There’s also a bear with a singularly world-weary look on his face, christened Nick bear by my mother after my husband’s tendency to worry. Even given the bears in the ranks, though, these are not teddies. Absolutely not. They are creatures.

Friends and family know about the creatures. They know that they have names and back stories, that we take a selection on holiday (Mr Fox, Megatron and Mama being the best travelled), that they never go in the hold – too precious – and that we, by rights, deserve frequent-buyer points from Steiff. All very childish, if not downright odd, for two otherwise functioning adults but, with Nick’s daughter in the house every other weekend, something that we have always had a cover for. Now, I don’t care how much of a loser having a bedroom that looks like a Toys R Us makes me seem. The creatures have been a comfort since Nick’s accident, both as something to cuddle up to at night in a bed that’s emptier than it’s ever been and as part of what’s now become a ritual when I go to see Nick.

Every day that I’ve visited Nick in hospital I’ve taken one of the creatures with me. I put it in his hand and take a picture of them both. To begin with, I did this as a way of trying to keep his 11-year-old daughter in the loop with her dad. She’s terrified of hospitals at the best of times, and this isn’t that. I zoomed in on the creature and his hand, cropping out the breathing and feeding tubes, as well as the neck brace. It’s become, though, as much for me as it is for her. She’s now OK with seeing pictures of her dad but the creatures have become my crutch.

I have a couple of rules. No repeats are allowed, and no buying new creatures. I’ve only forgotten to bring something once, which is when I let myself break rule number two. I found a fluffy black-and-white cat in the hospital shop that looked just like our cat, Badger. Now, though, I’m close to the end. Only two giant turtles and the man-sized croc are left. They’re tough to transport from home to the office to the hospital, unlike Nick’s cuddly Facehugger who came last week. I know they’re not very nice in Alien but, hey, they just want a hug like the rest of us, right?

So now I have to come up with a new way to mark the passing days, and to bring a bit of much-needed silliness to my trips to hospital. Suggestions on a postcard, please. Actually, postcards might not be such a bad idea. They’d certainly take up less space in the flat than the creature army.

React Now

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

Supply Teachers Required

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of Pay, Excellent CPD : Randstad Educati...

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Upper KS2 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Upper KS2 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Rebecca Armstrong
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv  

Why do we stand by and watch Putin?

Ian Birrell
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor