My memory after that (see Coma Story Part 1) is strange. I have three weeks’ worth of hallucinations and dreams from that time. The odd thing is that they are as real to me as walking to the shops yesterday. I have since been told that the particular combination of drugs I was being given at the time resulted in very similar experiences within the brain to those people experience when they’ve taken a heavy dose of LSD. So I had a baaaad trip, maaaan.
A lot of the dreams were based around what I was hearing people say – let me tell you that it is true that your hearing remains when you are in a coma – so if, God forbid, any of your loved ones should ever be in this situation – please remember this. We can hear everything you’re saying, and our brains are creating strange and possibly scary visuals based around what we’re hearing – so please choose your words carefully.
The dreams I had were surreal, odd, nightmarish, and sometimes funny. They are difficult to explain in any linear detail, although I’m going to try. I have tried to sketch and paint them, but the images are elusive, and, frustratingly, never turn out on paper to be truly representative of the experience. I may well try again some time, as writing this is causing some flashbacks similar to those I used to go through regularly in the five years or so after the event.
At first, there was just nothing. Blackness. I didn’t sense time passing, but I am aware in hindsight that it was. The awareness trickled in like a stream of daylight through a not-quite-shut blackout curtain. It continued to trickle, until suddenly I was in the middle of a dream. I was at the cinema, trying to watch a film. My husband was with me (although, amusingly, he had morphed into Ewan MacGregor for a bit – maybe it’s because he’s Scottish like Charlie – either way, it seemed normal at the time). The screen kept scrolling down, and our seats kept moving up, until there was no room, on a sort of motorised continuous movement. I kept feeling claustrophobic and panicky.
Cut to an horrific, dark, horror doctor’s laboratory. I am standing as though in stocks, hooked up by the neck to a whirring, clicking machine full of cogs and gears. It is dark, and there is a dripping sound. Every time the machine clicks and whirrs, the strap around my neck tightens. I hear the words ‘ don’t worry, we keep her heavily sedated while we do this.’ The strap tightens more. Suddenly it rips a strip of my throat away, and the pain is intense, like fire. I try to scream and struggle, but I can’t move. Each time the machine moves now, there is more tearing, more pain. The strips are removed completely, and I watch in horror as my torn away neck skin starts making its way down the attached conveyor belt, away from me.
Cut to looking down and seeing myself as a diaphanous woven piece of material, strung out over a frame of metal. I am string that can be strummed like a guitar. I do not understand how I can be living and speak. My voice, when I do, is metallic. I ask why I am like this. I get no answer.
Cut to a dark room with a museum like feel. There is a skeleton in one corner. A glass elevator makes its way up and down. It’s going up to some important place, and I have a mission. I need to get that skeleton, intact, onto the elevator and into its destination, the plane. If I don’t there will be consequences. I don’t understand what the consequences are. My dad is with me, but he is inexplicably in a wheelchair. I attempt to get the skeleton onto the elevator but can’t hold the doors open for long enough to move it. My father tries to help, but falls and gets left behind as we rise. I don’t know how, but I’ve failed the mission. Suddenly I’m at the start once more, and I have to try again. The feeling that this is extremely important pervades. I went through this particular dream a few times; it was my apparent dreamworld Sisyphean task. It differed a tiny bit each time, but I always left my dad behind and I always failed.
Cut to a strange world in which males and females are half and half of each other; literally joined in the middle like those comedy routines where one person makes up each half of themselves differently then keeps turning from side to side. Pregnancy involves having a translucent, plastic ‘womb’ placed on top of your body, and I am apparently pregnant. Rosie is here, talking to me. The baby kicks when it hears her. Every time it kicks, there is a little tinkling bell that sounds, and from the top of my plastic ‘womb;’, a little box produces a sticker, which I give to Rosie. She is delighted each time.
Cut to some sort of stop-motion animation world. This one is quite fun. I am hearing some pleasant music, and seeing cute little stop motion animals dancing in and out of their homes; there are many hedgehogs for some reason, and they are adorable. It morphs into a strange, almost tribal sort of dance from people whom I am sure are gods. They have huge heads which look like they are actually masks; and tiny arms and legs. As the rhythm continues, they gather together and perform their dance. Okay, brain, this one is getting a bit disturbing now. Couldn’t we have stuck with the cute hedgehogs?
Suddenly, there seems to be another mission. I have to sort out some sort of mining/digging expedition – for what I don’t understand. The stop motion hedgehogs become a sort of multi-limbed digging hybrid between creature and machine, which goes into the earth on command and brings up what it finds. The only way to command it is via the stickers that the baby kicks from the plastic womb on the male/female world. I have to keep getting Rosie to speak in order for that chain of events to happen. It somehow keeps going wrong again, and I keep finding myself back in time at the start of the mission. I go over events again and again, and each time the process becomes quicker and quicker, until the passing of events is a whirr, until suddenly the digger thing digs up a creature which looks like a black wolf, with red eyes and slavering teeth. It leaps towards me and it’s face looms into mine. I am staring directly into its red eyes as it screams, ‘ENOUGH!’ at me. I am terrified.
I am told there was a moment during which my heart was racing so fast I was in imminent danger of a heart attack. I often wonder whether that was the moment that happened, and that perhaps my hallucinations were trying to warn me of what my body was doing at the time.
The dreams continued in these odd ways for some time, until the moment of my Near Death Experience.
To be continued.