‘There is a bleed,’ he said.
Not, ‘Your daughter has had a cerebral haemorrhage.’ No, I get the dumbed-down version. Her brain is bleeding into the nape of her neck, where it will disperse. Well that’s nice and tidy, isn’t it? I’m sitting in a tiny room being diagnosed as thick. I want to be bombarded with enormous words and unintelligible language. She’s only been here one hour and has already had two brain scans; they wouldn’t spend that kind of money and attention on nothing. I’m choking here, trying to be passive and not in the least dangerous.
A new doctor, Mr Surgeon, throws an assortment of choices on the table, all of which include the possibility of death. Maisie is an adult – it’s her decision.
‘I’m only nineteen!’ she screams.
‘With the operation there’s a fifty-per-cent chance of death.’ His face never moves.
‘I can’t…’ she says. ‘Just do it.’
He goes on to describe the risks of complications during and after the operation, then in the recuperation period. She is all I can see and hear; her whole life is inside me - I’m pregnant with this beautiful young woman, this busy, loving and sparkling entity. Suddenly I’m a mother again. I’ll be her rotwieller; she’s too nice; she’ll need me.
My head fills with memories of other hospital trips; sons with broken bones blood and gore and handsome doctors; sexy arms holding x-rays up to light boxes; long muscled thighs stealing my attention. This is different and I am consumed.
Death has stalked me all my life but this is my children! I need to stand up and fight. I can’t be that woman anymore – forward march girl, into the winds of change.