I shifted on the trolley as the nurse tapped the back of my hand. Maybe it was the lurid exhaustion or the fact that I had been in pain for hours, but I swear that I could feel the veins blooming against the slap. I was surprised I had any blood left. The pad between my legs was soaking again. I felt the cannula slide in as I counted the two vials worth, hoping she could get what she needed quickly before I began to pass out.
The man in the next cubicle exploded into slurred anger.
'I don't wanna be on this planet anymore, I don't wanna be here. What do have to do to be assessed? What do I have to do? I'll throw myself in front a car, I'll bloody do it, I will, you watch!'
I could hear jostling, the desperation soured by the booze. Telephones jangled while people talked in lowered voices, voices of policemen world weary of this kind of outburst. The man's message was lost in the translation, thick with street drugs and rejection, it was lost before he even opened his mouth.
'I don't wanna be here, I want my kids back, I want the methadone, I wanna get out, I wanna be dead. I wanna be assessed.'
The arc of his voice rang into a sincerity, underneath the chemical oblivion there was a note of true despair. I too wondered what he would have to do for an assessment. I had sat alone and quietly, racked with pain that made me stiffen and cry for breath as the other patients watched me. I wondered whether it was any better to suck air politely or lose it in aggression; which of us was going to get relief first?
The nurse interrupted my daze. She said she was sorry and sure enough the cannula had sprayed my blood over the floor, she mopped at it efficiently, like it was all part of a normal day.
'You're not funny about blood are you?' she asked, I felt obliged to lie and say no as I reeled on the trolley, clutching at oxygen while my eyeballs spiked dots.
I closed my eyes and played the old familiar game. The game of 'Situations I have been in that were worse than this.' I was alone in Casualty, bleeding and racked with pain. So what was worse? Losing my little brother in a department store. Breaking my arm. Being fired from that temp job. Being disowned by my father. My rapist opening up the wounds again, for the hundredth time; not having yet got his kicks, even when I was torn.
Except, that rapist was why I was here. The situation had been in worse than this was the cause of this, even though it happened ten years ago. I'm still in that situation, part of me is hostage there forever. Until moments like this, when she catches up with me and we're bleeding and politely lying to staff in hospitals 'it's not that bad, I'm okay, I'm fine waiting alone.'
The man is hauled off to some cells, the safest place to assess him. Mentally I wish him well and I feel guilty to be glad of the peace and quiet. I go back to lying on the trolley, shifting my hand with the cannula that makes me want to vomit with every twitch.