I remember being excited. I was going on a first date with somebody from work, somebody I shouldn’t have bothered dating. He was going to pick me up in his car, a few streets away from my house.
I can’t remember what I had told my parents, where I had told them I was going. But the date was set, it was imminent. I think he might have been running late from his shift, which I wasn’t surprised by, as the pub that we worked at was kinda disorganised.
My nerves were coursing through my body. I couldn’t sit still, I thought I was going to be sick. I paced the floor of my parents’ bedroom. I liked to do my make up in there because they had a mirror in their bedroom and their bedroom had nicer lighting than mine.
I paced and paced, trying to calm down, trying to remember that I had known this guy for months – he was always nice to me, and he actually fancied me (which back then, I was incredibly grateful for as that is what I thought a woman’s worth was measured by – how much or how many men fancied them). He was older (too old – I was barely 18, he was 24). It was going to be a great evening.
I rested on the bed for a moment, trying to slow my heartbeat and take a breath, checking my phone to see if he was on his way. No text yet. I got up and found that one of my legs had gone dead, like when you get pins and needles from loss of blood circulation after you have fallen asleep in an odd position – except my leg had just decided to play dead instantly.
I hopped around the room, holding on to the railing of my mum and dad’s bed frame. I shouted for my brother, whose bedroom was next door, with a playful; “Look at me! Look at my leg!”
He came in, confused. Then the other leg started to give, and I had to sit down on the bed again. Both of us started to silently panic.
I explained to him that I had no idea what was happening, didn’t know why my legs had gone dead. I reached for my phone that was less than an arm’s length away from me, and I couldn’t grab it. My motor skills were failing me.
I begged my brother to text my date, to tell him I was too ill and had to cancel. I made sure he was very apologetic in the message.
My brother did so and then called for my parents in an urgent, confused panic. They came up the stairs hurriedly, all the while I was trying to grab my phone, but my arm was like a Betty Spaghetti doll’s – floppy and limp. I barely had any control over it. My fingers were unable to hold my phone. I was just sitting there, swiping at my phone with a limb that wasn’t paying attention to me anymore.
My parents entered the room with my younger brother and I showed them what was wrong. At first, my mum thought I was just messing around, but soon she saw my fear, and that fear quickly spread through the room.
My other arm soon went, and then so did my tongue. I began to be unable to speak clearly. I was trying to talk but it was as if my tongue had ballooned in my mouth. It just wasn’t doing what my brain was telling it to. I was terrified. I couldn’t communicate properly, move properly – I was imprisoned in a body that wasn’t working anymore.
I was screaming and crying. My dad called an ambulance, my mum and my brother helped my lifeless body get down the stairs, as I continued scream-crying in fear.
The ambulance soon arrived and so did the agony in my head. A headache splintered my brain severely – I had never felt such pain before – and I started to scream about that too. The paramedics got me in the ambulance, and I remember lying in there as they drove, and the paramedic asking me if I knew where I was. I tried to say “in an ambulance”, but it came out sounding more like; “in Australia”.
At hospital I remember waiting around in the bed, my mum next to me, still scream-crying because my head was so, so painful. It was as if a nail had been drilled into my skull. I couldn’t understand why nobody was helping me. Our wait seemed to go on for hours, though I’m sure it was probably just minutes.
A nurse came over to give more pain relief – she struggled as I struggled to open my mouth without screaming in order for her to administer it. It was in a syringe, which I thought was weird.
I remember having a CT scan once the many, many drugs they had put in my system had started to kick in. It was kind of ironic – being told not to move when I hadn’t been able to move.
The rest of the night is a blur. I did manage to get some sleep, and my motor functions came back. My head finally stopped hurting.
I woke up early, my mum beside my bed in the chair. My brother and dad had been with me too. I got out of bed and went to the loo. I felt fine.
A doctor came in soon after, asking me a bunch of questions. It was only when he asked me if I had felt sick at all that I puked all over the hospital bed. I apologised profusely as a nurse changed my sheets. The doctor said it was fine, and that they found nothing in the CT scan.
He was going to refer me to a specialist, as they had no clue what had happened to me or why.
I was soon discharged and we all went home. Had the day off school (score!) for both myself and my younger brother. My parents stayed home too. I finally checked my phone – the guy I was supposed to have gone on a date with had texted to say; “If you didn’t want to go out with me, then at least come up with a better excuse.” Because of my insecurities, desperation for love and acceptance, horny 18 year old body, and low self-esteem, I begged him for another chance.
Our first date was rescheduled, and when I think of it now, I cringe. He had booked us a hotel room, and planned for us to go to dinner. He suggested we check-in to the hotel first (should have seen that coming). He then suggested on giving me a massage, and left the room to go to his car to get lotion or whatever. I thought he wanted sex, that the only way to get him to be with me was to give him sex, and so I undressed for him, waiting for his return to the room.
Six months later, my heart was broken after a terrible, terrible holiday to France with him and my family.
I never received that referral to a specialist.