I awoke with bleary eyes, not quite registering to my surroundings. I stared at the fireplace and then steered my eyes towards the big flat screen telly in the corner of the room. I was home.
I had only been in the house around four hours, yet I had slept solidly on the settee for three of those hours. I panicked when I realised i was alone in the living room. Where were Mum and Anna? I didn't want to be on my own. What If it happened again? What if no one was there to find me?
I was used to the noise and business of the ward, seeing nurse after nurse pass by the door to my side room, popping their heads round the corner to check if I was OK. But now it was quiet, no one to help me if I needed them. What if something bad happened?
Thankfully my ears began to register to the muffled attempted whispers of my Mum and Sister in the kitchen. They had obviously been trying to keep the noise down so as to not wake me. I welcomed the sound of their familiar voices and smiled, as I realised they weren't very good at whispering at all, they simply talked with an added husky tone.
I called them in to the living room, and my sister flopped on to the arm chair, and showed no sympathy to the fact that Mum hadn't let her watch telly due to me sleeping and in turn had persuaded her to help in the kitchen. I grinned at my sister, who was now leisurely flicking through the channels, volume well above what it needed to be, as Mum rolled her eyes and left us both to watch one of our many favourite reality shows.
I snuggled my head on to the pillow and coiled myself in to the blanket that had been put on me, trying to fight the tempting urge to drop back off to sleep. It was getting on to being late afternoon, yet the day that I'd had seemed to have had so much packed in to it. It was now surreal that just hours before I had been in my hospital room, the only place where I had lived in my new body, and if I'm honest the place that made me feel more content than the thought of being any where else.
I thought I would welcome the freedom and familiarity of being back at home with open arms, but as a cuddled deep in to my blanket the feeling of anxious uncertainty crept up through my skin, like a vine on an ageing tree. I buried myself in to the settee trying to concentrate on the programme Anna had put on the telly, but I felt as if I was lost at sea, screaming for safety and reassurance, yet nobody hearing my cries.
The dream of coming home to the house where i had lived my whole life, was now being crushed by an overwhelming realisation that I was on my own. I had to deal with this thing that had taken over my body, my life, and it hit me that deep down I had thought getting out of hospital and getting back to my house with my family, would be, just as it was before... But it wasn't. Life was different. I was different.
I inwardly scolded myself for constantly having begged the Doctors and physios to let me out of hospital. I knew I had worn them down and their decision had partly been because I was so adamant. But now I was regretting that I had been so persistent. Maybe I wasn't ready to deal with the reality of it all yet. I was safe and isolated it that hospital room. Everything was routined. I knew exactly what was going to happen and when it was going to happen. Being at home, where I should have felt safe and happy, I now felt out of my depth.
The afternoon slid into evening, and Dad and Chris were now home. Chris didn't leave my side. I was tucked under his arm, as the five of us watched television together, just as we always had before the 18th October 2011. Chris didn't hold back his feelings of sheer glee and relief that I was out of hospital and out of the confines and Big Brother type environment of Ward E1. I tried to emulate the happiness that my family were feeling to have me back with them, but as I tried to relax next to Chris and lose myself in the programme we were watching I couldn't shift the growing knot of fear that was multiplying deep within me. The journey for me was only just starting, and I couldn't see the end, I couldn't see a finishing point. I didn't know where my life was leading, or what was going to happen. At 21 years old, I felt well beyond my years.
Being in hospital, I knew exactly what would happen in my day, and when. I could lose myself in the schedule that had been manipulated for me, I had only to focus on the day and tasks in hand... Now my focus had slipped. My life was blurred, and I couldn't rip myself away from the painful thought that just over two weeks previously, I had been cocky enough to think that I had finally got everything sorted, and I knew exactly where my life's path was taking me.
Soon enough it was time for bed. Chris and Mum lead me upstairs to help with my needs in the bathroom and getting my pyjamas on.
After brushing my teeth, Mum helped me along to my bedroom where Chris was sat on the bed waiting for me. I sat on the bed and heaved my left side so as it followed my right. Chris tucked me in and lay next to me on his side, propped up by his elbow. Mum stroked my head and was ready to say goodnight, when silent, hot tears began to stream down the sides of my face. Mum's face crumpled in to understanding, and Chris pounced in to a seating position asking what the matter was, and if I was OK.
'I'm scared, it's going to happen again.'
I hadn't been in my room, or lay in my bed since the morning the paramedics were carrying out my shocked and paralysed body. Just lying in the bedroom I could replay in my mind the events of that fateful Tuesday morning, like they had just happened a minute ago. Everything in the room was so familiar, everything was as it always had been, nothing had changed... except me.
Chris and Mum tried to console and reassure me as best as possible and with them both at my side the crippling tiredness that rarely left me these days washed over me like a tidal wave of darkness and through heaving, dry sobs I drifted off to sleep.