I well know how locked-in victims feel when they finally wake up to the nightmare, the thought that they may be paralysed forever. Here’s what I believe is the most harrowing scene from my book, “In the Blink of an Eye”, when all I wanted was oblivion. So sorry, Mum for putting you through this:
Mum’s here, her presence comforting, her voice calm and reassuring, as if I were five years old again and frightened of the bogey man. Only this is no fantasy – this monster is real. Earlier, I heard her talking to the doctor who said I needed a peg feed fitted to my stomach and it’s scared the hell out of me! My eyelids start twitching and Mum reaches for the alphabet board, holding it up and tracing the letters with her forefinger as I spell out my message. “P-l-e-a-s-e h-e-l-p m-e. C-a-n-’t g-o o-n l-i-k-e t-h-i-s. P-l-e-a-s-e, M-u-m, h-e-l-p m-e t-o d-i-e.”
“You don’t mean that!” Mum bites her lip, her face pale and crumpled as she forces back the tears. She shakes her head, but I’m unrelenting, my eyes flicking frantically up and down to get my message across. “I d-o m-e-a-n i-t. I w-a-n-t t-o d-i-e. Y-o-u a-r-e a n-u-r-s-e. H-e-l-p m-e.” She turns away so I know she’s crying now and doesn’t want me to see. Why is everyone so determined not to cry? Have they all vowed to be cheerful all the time, like holiday camp redcoats? She turns back now, takes a long, deep breath and takes my hand in hers.
“Look Peter!” she sighs. “I know how you must be feeling…” –
“You don’t! You don’t!” I’m screaming inside, but she can’t hear me.
“…and I understand, really I do….”
Her voice trails off. She can see my eyes burning. All of a sudden, she shakes off the veil of helplessness she’s been carrying and I recognise my Mum from 20 years ago – the kind, no-nonsense woman who’d tuck me up in bed at night, loving and efficient, calming me to sleep. “Give it three months. Another three months. And if you’re no better….then we’ll discuss it. Okay? Okay Peter?”
Using the alphabet board I spelled out one last word: “P-r-o-m-i-s-e.”
Mum paused, chewing her lip again, then nodded in agreement and squeezed my hand. “I promise.”