On Friday evening, 26 January 2007, I suffered what is suspected Transient Global Amnesia. My closest friend happened to be with me and took me to hospital.
Snatches of memories return, but most of the week leading up to the ‘event’ seem to have been wiped over with an oily rag. I remember being examined, on the evening of the event, by doctors – count backwards from 30 to 1, who is the president of South Africa? And I remember two nurses giggling around me as they fucked around trying to jab a needle in my hand for the drip. I remember giving them angry looks.
Then there are fragments: my hand on a key, locking my gate (as I left to meet my friend at a drinking hole?); the one available table on the porch of the drinking spot, pockmarked with cigarette burns (or am I inventing?) ; the teenager, also in the trauma ward, clearly zonked out on some drug (tik?), standing next to his seated mother, his arms half raised as if he was floating just so above the world, and his eyes burning bright tunnels into a zone of the world or his mind that only he could see. Fragments of two friends saying goodbye and me on a hospital bed or gurney. Sometime later, someone folding a light-blue hospital blanket under my head – a small gesture, but of great comfort on that narrow bed, with a thin, vinyl-covered mattress too short to stretch the whole of the bed (either your feet or your head on the mattress, not both).
Sometime before that comfort, I remember being wheeled along corridors, hearing snatches of talk, ‘holding ward… buzz buzz… holding ward’. I ask the orderly to stop at a toilet; he – I am sure it was a he – makes a small detour.
No seats, just two strips of wood on the porcelain. The toilet is neither clean nor dirty. I hesitate for a moment. I know my sandals are with my clothes in a plastic bag underneath the bed. But then I think, to hell, and wander barefoot into the toilet. Whatever is happening to me, I will have a chance to wash again, I reason. The sliding door to the toilet looks like it is made of chipboard; where the handle and bolt should be are holes, with the straw-coloured chipboard showing through, as if gnawed at by rats or poor, angry people. There is no drip trolley (as I write this, I remember holding the drip-bag in my hand while being wheeled to the holding ward) – no drip trolley, and I have to consider my next move carefully.
I am already in hospital clothes, but someone left my jeans on. Peeing while standing up, holding a drip and preventing your jeans from falling to your ankles looks like a difficult proposition. Again I think, to hell, I am sick, and I let the jeans fall, baring my arse to whomever might pass the toilet (I haven’t closed the door – I needed the light from the corridor). And the drip? Did I ask the orderly to hold the drip?