My naked arse was protruding from a hole in a plastic chair and there was a strange man in the room. He wore a red bow tie and I could see his nipples through his shirt. Dr Wardale, the opthalmologist, had turned up while I was on the toilet. The nurses had wrapped a bed sheet around me and wheeled me back into the room where he shone lights in my eyes for half an hour while my undressed, paralysed lower-half moulded into the shape of the NHS commode chair. I pulled the thin cotton sheet tightly around me and tucked it under my legs so I wouldn’t accidently expose any flesh, but my arse remained on show, framed in an oval of blue plastic. The doctor’s breath was thick and sweet on my face. He was only checking on the damage to my eyes, but I couldn’t help feeling violated by his closeness to my useless, naked body. I was relieved when the bright orange eye drops started to sting because I could let a few of the tears that swelled at my eyelashes fall down my cheeks, and blame it on them.
When Dr Wardale left the room I sobbed. I cried orange tears while my lungs heaved, and continuing with the indignity I shamelessly let them pour down my face and neck, staining the collar of my hospital gown.
I wasn’t just crying about this. I was crying about an inconceivable number of things. My legs. My partial blindness. Kirsty. All of the doctors that had not believed me when I said “something is wrong”. My mum. My poor mum. Fading optimism. The wires and tubes and needles. How this had all started in the back of a van in Australia. How we live up three flights of stairs and I’m paralysed. Could I even have orgasms any more? Was I disabled now?
And when I’d cried about everything I could think of, I cried about the fucking hospital food.