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Hold your nerve

June 2024, no. 465

Hold your nerve

June 2024, no. 465

I have not told anyone that there is a small child growing in my bedside table drawer. The Ziplock bag containing E’s hair, a mass of tangled brown. A handful of baby teeth.

I had brought E into Emergency with shooting pains down his legs. His gait wobbly. One leg doing a strange kick with each step. A fever. They thought it could be meningitis and performed an MRI. At 2 am they came back to tell me the MRI showed normal activity in the brain. It was clear. It was good news. At 2.03 am they came back and said, ‘Could we have a word outside?’ We moved into the hallway, under the fluorescent lights, surrounded by other people’s tragedies.

‘When they were looking at the MRI of the brain, they found something else. Lower down. In his chest. Here,’ the Emergency doctor said, pointing to a blur. ‘A mass.’

‘Are you saying that’s ...?’ Maybe if she doesn’t say the word and I don’t say the word it won’t be true.

Before either of us can say anything, there is a loud thump. More, a thud. More, a crack. And a scream. E is screaming. He has fallen from the hospital bed. A thump. A thud. A crack, face down onto the hospital’s linoleum floor. Everyone rushes to lift him as he continues to scream. His body is a stiff plank, for reasons that aren’t yet clear but will become clear soon. They put him in a neck brace. They roll him gently. I hover, trying to be useful but feel like I am just getting in the way. They manoeuvre him back onto the bed, and a nurse with a tight blonde ponytail clicks the bed railing. Click.

Comment (1)

  • Oh wow. So powerful. Natasha, you speak and write from the heart.
    Posted by Rashelle Cohen
    07 June 2024

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