O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
William Blake. Songs of Experience. 1794. 'The Sick Rose'
On Monday 18 October, 2010, my natural life ran out. A paralysis of weakness floored me; my legs and arms were not my own. By degrees, deadness moved from my feet, to take my legs, my hands, my arms, and teased filaments of numbness into my brain and jaw. If not for immediate medical help, my life would have ended that day, electrical power slipping away from me.
I have become a monster. Maybe I always was. I have become a monster powered by an electric charge which is not my own because my own ended: my body was no longer able to sustain it.
Within an hour of being taken to hospital, artificial life surged through me, rippling and crackling as the juice from two hypodermic syringes lubricated my circuits.
Electricity is a flower. Within an hour, new life bloomed through my arms and legs as the water of life irrigated my dry fields.
From that day, I'm not me. I'm a construct: an artificial life force of measured proportions, restlessly contained in decaying flesh and blood. I look at my hand. It's detached from me. It's part of the body I used to inhabit. An act of will moves it. I have to reconnect the life I've been given with the flesh I used to have. I can learn to do this.
But there are doubts.
I'm not me. I'm a Gothic monster created, not through the efforts of an inquisitive, solitary scientist experimenting with lightning, but through the perceptiveness, skill and commitment of medical teams based in Hairmyres Hospital. Good people, from the paramedic and ambulancemen who gave me first aid, to the highest consultants fusing with me through barrierless eyes, to the ordinary workers in all the wards, doing all the cog in the machine jobs, who took care of me.
And through the wonderful support of Keith and my family.
I'm not me. Not the me I was. But I am.