The Plaster Cast Diaries part 2: How Twitter Preserved My Sanity and How Morphine Almost Destroyed It Again…

I learned some very interesting life skills whilst in hospital:  

  1. How to maintain my sense of humour in the face of adversity
  2. How to urinate whilst in a horizontal position
  3. How to replace TV with my imagination
  4. How to create my own visitors out of inanimate objects
  5. How to survive without food, sleep, nicotine or Spongebob Squarepants

So, after breaking my leg on a child’s playground swing (The Plaster Cast Diaries Part 1) I suddenly found myself being wheeled into the A&E on a stretcher, out of my mind on morphine and struggling to string a sentence together using anything other than monosyllables.  Noah, my 14-year-old son, was at my side, trying hard to ignore the fact that his father had become a dribbling lunatic within the last twenty minutes or so.  By now, the pain in my leg was so far removed from me that it could very well have been a table leg that I’d broken and not my own.  Nurses and doctors poked and prodded me, stuck needles in me, questioned me and all the while I grinned like an idiot. I remember being amazed at how many different colours hospital scrubs came in and I began to feel like I had somehow found myself an extras role in a Bollywood production – except nobody was dancing and doing those smiley hand movements.

Much of what happened to me during my weeks stay in hospital is a distant haze punctuated by brief moments of lucidity. There are huge chunks that are missing from my memory – hours and hours of my life that just aren’t there any more. I’ve searched high and low for them in the somewhat barren, tumbleweed strewn landscape of my mind, but they’re just. Not. There….This bothers me. … A LOT.  Unlike those times when I’ve been so drunk that I’ve woken up on a roundabout hugging a traffic cone with only myself to blame, this is somehow worse – it’s like somebody else has snuck into my head with an eraser and rubbed out large pieces of my memory. I can only put this down to copious amounts of morphine coupled with an unhealthy dose of sleep deprivation – every day, hour, minute and second spent in that place has merged into one jumble of recollections that have been difficult to arrange into a coherent form.

Thank God for Twitter

By sifting through endless pages of tweets, I have been able to piece together some of the loose fragments of my memory and recount the story of my week-long stay in hospital. Some of these tweets have helped jog my memory and I can begin to recall certain events…many of them I simply cannot remember tweeting at all and to this day remain a complete mystery to me. I’ll leave it up to you to work out which parts are real…I gave up some days ago. So, although I am unable to tell this part of the story in the traditional ‘beginning, middle, end‘ fashion, I will instead provide my observations on life inside a hospital from the warped perspective of my morphine addled brain….

What The Doctor Said…

I vaguely remember a man in burgundy scrubs – for all I know, he could have been a janitor – telling me that I was about to go down to x-ray and that he was going to put me to sleep for this. He connected a tube to a valve in my arm that I didn’t remember getting. I started to talk to Noah about something and then…..

Broken Leg + Running Magazine = Irony….Ha bloody Ha…

…..the next thing I knew, somebody was calling my name as if from far away.  Somewhat reluctantly, I left the magical land of Narnia and opened my eyes. I was in a different room.  Noah was still there but now Heidi, my ex-wife, was there too.  She was stood right next to me and I instinctively reached out and put my arm around her waist.  Somehow, the situation had removed all of the animosity we had harboured towards each other during the last year. She didn’t pull away.  “What was I saying?” I asked Noah. Apparently, a good hour had passed but to me it felt as though I had just dozed off for a couple of seconds.  I looked down at my leg and saw that it was encased in white plaster.  My jeans, the only decent pair I owned, had been cut open from ankle to groin and I remember feeling more upset about this than I did about the fact that I’d snapped my leg.  Noah took advantage of my state of drowsiness to take what he considered to be a photo that demonstrated irony perfectly.

My memory from this first stage of my hospital stay is extremely sketchy, but I do remember Noah chuckling as he pointed out that my hand had somehow managed to find a resting place on his mothers bottom.  I also remember feeling disinclined to remove it.  Again, Heidi did not pull away… A lot of unexpected positives have come from my leg breaking incident – becoming friends with Heidi again after so many months of bitterness, anger and regret is one of the best – worth breaking a leg for.  Life’s too short for staying angry…

Another gap in my memory… It disturbs me that there are so many. I found myself in a different room on a hospital bed. Noah was there but Heidi had gone. It was her birthday the next day I remembered, so she had probably gone out to celebrate which was fair enough…

Tell me Mr. Hawkins….Where does it hurt?….

People came and stayed for a while – my sister-in-law and my nephew. A doctor came in and explained to me that I had broken both my Tibia and my fibula and that it was not a clean break – I had somehow managed to shatter the lower part of my Tibia. He explained that this would need operating on pretty immediately and went on to explain what the operation would entail. I already knew what to expect as my brother had suffered a similar injury some eighteen months before – A metal pin would be hammered down through the length of my shin bone, connecting the two broken pieces together, and this would be screwed into place at both ends. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this part of the healing process. The doctor told me that the recovery period for an injury such as this would typically take 12 weeks.  I groaned at this – I had been due to move to another county at the end of the week to begin my new life and pursue a career as a performing singer songwriter. This was a setback I could do without…

How Twitter Kept Me Sane(ish) and Chased My Black Dog Away…

And then it was evening and everybody left, taking Noah with them.  Suddenly, I was all alone.. .I had never had to stay overnight in a hospital before and I don’t mind admitting that I was a little frightened and still very shaken from the traumatic experience of breaking my leg.  I think I cried for a little while. What was I going to do? I had already resigned from my day job and was due to attend a job interview on the following Monday so I couldn’t even claim statutory sick pay. I already had a new flat to move into with rent and bills to pay.  Everything seemed so hopeless.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic depression. Since then, after countless therapy sessions and medication, I have improved enormously my perception of the world, myself and life in general. Despite this, however, my Black Dog still pays me regular visits, particularly when it senses that I’m feeling a bit low, and this was one of those occasions. As far as I know, however, hospitals do not allow animals on the premises so I became determined to get rid of it immediately before it got me into trouble with the nurses…

So I did all I could do – I reached for my phone and began to tweet…

Twitter helped me to preserve my sanity… well…some of it anyway… At first I was tweeting simply to amuse myself as I often do – making the most mundane observations and then making them as funny as possible.  People would reply to my tweets and I would find myself with someone to talk to – the next few hours were spent answering the same questions over and over – ‘I broke my leg‘; ‘No, I’m not joking‘; ‘On a playground swing‘; ‘Yes, it did hurt‘; ‘No, there was no alcohol involved‘; ‘Yes, I do feel stupid‘; ‘…and so on… The interaction helped make me feel less alone and provided a distraction for my troubled mind.  Black Dog soon turned tail and slunk off into the night which was actually quite an achievement considering the fact that it wasn’t even night time yet – I didn’t see much of him after that…. he doesn’t like my jokes anyway…

Morphine Dreams and Sleep Deprivation

Every now and again I would doze off only to wake up twenty minutes or so later. This was to become my sleeping pattern for the rest of the week and, to be honest, although it has improved since, it’s not a whole lot better.

That first night was the worst. I would doze and then wake, doze then wake until each moment merged into the next. My mind kept sweeping me back to the moment my leg had snapped and I was forced to relive, time and again, having to realign the bones, the sight of my skin bulging against the protrusion of the broken ends, the endless, agonising wait for the ambulance. I still get this every now and again, but that first night, it was relentless.

Every couple of hours, a nurse would appear and take my blood pressure, ask me to rate my level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10 (my answer was usually somewhere around 12) or give me some pills and a tiny plastic cup filled with sweet tasting liquid. I dutifully did as I was told and swallowed them. The liquid was Oramorph – morphine in the form of an oral dose – it was this drug that I blame for the temporary loss of my sanity… I came to rely on this drug, not only as a pain relief, but as a way of making my day slightly more bearable…

Later, after my operation, I was to be fitted with a machine which would allow me to self-medicate with morphine that would be fed directly into my bloodstream.  I would have a button with a green light on it which, when pressed, would give me a dose of the drug. The green light would go out and it would then not let me administer the drug for another 5 minutes at which point, the green light would come back on again.  I forget what this machine is called now so I’m going to call it ‘My Magical Morphine Machine‘. A short time after being hooked up to My Magical Morphine Machine, I began to tweet stuff that I simply cannot remember tweeting – reading those tweets now disturbs me a bit… It’s like somebody came into my room while I was dozing and tweeted for me. I remember waking up several times with my phone held in front of my face and a nonsensical sentence typed on the screen.  I also remember waking myself up because I was laughing like a maniac without even knowing what the joke was – this just made me laugh even harder – so much so, that a nurse came in and told me to shut up…

So, once I had decided that it was time to get to grips with the morphine situation, it was a relatively simple task of asking the nurse to take My Magical Morphine Machine away from me.  Patients are normally given a Magical Morphine Machine for a 24 hour period – I had mine for 12 hours. My sanity is somewhat shaky at the best of times – I didn’t need to lose it altogether thank you very much…

Continued In Part 3 of The Plaster Cast Diaries: Nil-By-Mouth, Hector The Pee Pot and How I Got Superhero Powers…

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Jamie R Hawkins is an Award Winning Singer/Songwriter whose songs have won him critical acclaim around the world – visit www.JamieRHawkins.com to find out more…

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22 thoughts on “The Plaster Cast Diaries part 2: How Twitter Preserved My Sanity and How Morphine Almost Destroyed It Again…

  1. Hello Readers and Fellow Blogsters, I hope you liked my post 😀 … I’m pretty new to this blogging malarkey so I’d be really grateful if you’d clear something up for me – A lot of the other (awesome) blogs I’ve read seem to be much shorter than mine so…Is this post too long? … I’d appreciate your feedback…that is all… Peace xD

    1. Your post isnt too long, its an excellent read yet again…… :-)… looking forward to your next bloggggggggggggggggggggggg.. 🙂

      1. Yay!… thanks for that Alison…good to know I’m doing something right 🙂 … Part 3 is posted and available for you to read plus I’ll be posting something a little different in the next couple of days xD

  2. Another great post…..as always you made me laugh, but you also made me realize that it wasn’t always the easiest for you! I remember thinking that “he is handling this quite well….considering.” Now, I see it wasn’t always as it appeared! Also, thanks for the trip down Tweet Memory Lane!! I had forgot about some of those tweets and the ones that were funny made me laugh like I was reading them for the first time again! Cant wait for Pt. 3…..tweet with ya soon! Mel

      1. You’re welcome…….it was the least I could do! You rock as well…..can always count on you when I need a laugh! 😀

  3. Wow, that is an amazing amount of hassle and pain to go through all because you jumped off a swing!! I’ve never had to have morphine and am now glad of it… 🙂

    I enjoyed reading this and wasn’t bored at all, but since you are asking about post length, I would say blog posts are typically 500-1,000 words, although of course there are no rules about it and you can make your posts whatever length you want.

    Yeah Write (similar to Dude Write, but is for both men and women) did a summer series where they had some wonderful articles on writing blog posts. During the summer series, our posts were only allowed to be 500 words or less. They have now upped the limit for the regular challenge grid to 1,000, if that gives you an idea. Here is a link to their current post, which has some links to some of the summer articles, if you want to check it out. http://yeahwrite.me/71-open/

    1. Wow, that’s very helpful, thank you… I will check that out right now… and thanks for the feedback… but don’t be put off by morphine should you ever be need it in a hospital situation…its brilliant for the pain relief… it was just that after 5 days of it my poor old wonky brain couldn’t cope… xD

  4. Wow, I remember those tweets and how I wished I could have stayed awake to keep you company at times. Another great blog post. You are good at remembering the details regardless and soo funny. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Hey You! …you were great company on those long and lonesome morphine soaked nights…Buzz Lightyear kept me this side of chirpy… thanks so much xD …see you in Twitterland….

  5. You may be surprised to hear this (not!) but I love your latest post! I love the way you take us in and out of your morphine/sleep-deprivation induced haze… I’m floating there with you and it’s my first out of body experience ever lol 😉 … very well done!

    Noah’s humour of snapping the picture of you with the running magazine really had me laughing. I like his on the spot quick thinking… or who knows… maybe he planned it as you giggled at him in the ambulance… Hmmm I have the impression that this is definitely a case of the apple not falling too far from the tree 😉

    Also, I couldn’t help but tear up again when you found Heidi standing by your side – and then I laughed through my tears when Noah pointed out your hand on her bum lol… It was a sweet scene and so well told.

    And finally, the most impressive part of the story, was how you decided to go without morphine even though it was helping the pain. I don’t think I could have done it.

    I’m really looking forward to part 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15….etc…..

    In fact, I can’t wait! xx

    1. Aww, you’re too kind!… but don’t stop ha ha… Part 3 is being written as we speak – not sure if there’ll be a part 4 etc as there are other stories I’d like to tell – maybe I’ll come back to those later… Quitting the morphine wasn’t so difficult anyway – giving up Twitter would have been a different matter altogether though xD. It was thanks to the likes of you and other die hard Tweeps that I managed to get through the experience without chopping my own head off with a plastic spoon in a fit of depression 😀 …I know you’ll tell me off for saying it but…THANKS! xxx

      1. Well, I’m not going to tell you off… but I *did* think I should let you know that you should probably rush home because the aardvark is eating the curtains again… just saying 😉

  6. Great story! I had morphine when in hospital with sofia its wonderful for pain but im also only left with memories that are just a muddled blur, your words describe it perfectly, I have a beautiful healthy daughter though and thats what matters. You were very brave to come off that machine early! Looking forward to nxt blog.

    1. Thanks Di! I think I’d rather suffer a broken leg with no morphine at all than achieve what you have by squeezing an object of considerable size out of my person…ouch! xD Hope you, Rob and Sofia are all fine and dandy 😀 Thanks for the feedback x

  7. Oh Jim!! It finished way to soon again! Please write a book 🙂

    I love your style of writing, you drag me in so I feel like I’m there with you, which by the way I wish I was!! You make me laugh and cry with you, when you talk of Heidi and Noah I feel every word you say, it’s extremely touching (not inapproriate touching like you did in the hospital and Noah pointed out LOL) I’m glad you are in a better place with Heidi now, it will only help in the long run with keeping that black dog at bay, You’re completely right, life is to short to carry hate and anger – we both know this through the similar experiences we have shared and talked about in our liccle chats.

    Can’t wait for blog 3 so get writing!!

    Em xx

    1. Aww, thanks Emmamamamaa… It’s lovely, and very encouraging, to hear such positive feedback…Glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to the next time we can have one of our liccle chats xD

  8. Well, you certainly sound pretty entertaining when you’re replacing sleep with morphine. haha It sucks going to the medically induced land of rainbows and lollipops but not being able to remember anything. When I had surgery for my wisdom teeth, I was drugged up that entire week, but I didn’t even have Twitter (or internet on my phone at that time.. pretty sure my mom kept the laptop away from me) to help me piece together everything.

    I’m looking forward to part three. (=

    1. Yes, I was fortunate to be able to chronicle the week via Twitter… even if much of it was garbled nonsense… otherwise my tale would have mostly consisted of unicorns and and robot fighting monkeys xD ….glad you liked it…part 3 on its way…

  9. There are no rules to post length and you can do whatever you want. As I was reading, I did notice that it was rather long, but didn’t mind since I am just sitting at work. Since it was well written and flowed well, the length isn’t really an issue for simple reading. Personally, the only time length would be a hindrance is when I am trying to catch up on the blogs I subscribe to. When I have 25 posts to catch up on, I may skip or just scan the longer ones.

    As for the post itself, I love your writing style. Someone sent me your link when you wrote your first one and I believe I will start following. Good luck.

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