Her Funeral, the Public Memorial & Raw Meat Pie (9-15 February)

Monday 9/2/87

Mark saw me 2 times today!! Came up in his wheelchair! He was chirpier and only stayed little whiles. I was shitty in the morning – woken early again cos I couldn’t roll over – so bad – makes me restless so I’m still tired & cranky. A shower and I still felt bad – exhausted. But I put lotsa pressure on my left leg – put all my weight on it (nearly) GREAT! (But dad reminded me tonight about the crack in my femur – don’t wanna make that worse.) [In the long term this injury amounted to nothing: at some stage I recall a doctor saying they weren’t even certain it existed: the crack was so fine that it could have simply been a scratch on the X-ray itself] They also dressed my right leg (the deep puncture) today – Tania C (who was here all day – 10am to 8pm!!) and my fav. nurse Alison “comforted” me but I made heaps of noises – it was bad. [I’ve already ascertained that my vocal chords are not inhibited in times of Stress…] My leg was put on an electric exerciser – it was great – bending & moving my right leg!! I was wary at first. God changing the dressing was hell-ful. I also did my first shit in one week or ≈8/9 days. [Ok, for new readers, I need to explain: my family – dad in particular – was not very inhibited with regard to discussing bodily functions. To the point that (perennial comedian he is) he coined a phrase for the phenomenon: the “Coxen Bowel Fetish”. If you care to better understand this unique family trait, there’s a fuller explanation in this post from my 1984 archives] Quite a few visitors perked me up. We watched video of Friday’s school memorial & tree planting. Sound was terrible couldn’t hear anything. Cried anyway. [Naturally] Mark got his tube out of his lung. Am tired now – hoping I can roll over tonight. Glad Mark visited me “a lot”. I really do think he likes me a lot – that letter says it all & so has he. It’s about […and then I forgot to fill in the time..]

A Life in Words
Goodbye my beautiful friend x

Tuesday 10/2/87

I went to Monique’s funeral by car around 2:30 I thought it’d “do the job” – but I still don’t think I’ve cried enough. I realised I lost a true friend – a person I met & related with so soon, but trusted quickly & forever. She lives in my heart & mind. I need her to live with me. I met Kerri; saw Mr & Mrs P. I cry when I see them & Camille & Kerri. [I think this was the last time I would see Monique’s mother for a very long time. Apparently she refused to see me because it was too painful, because it was always with Monique. Of course this upset me, but how could I fail to understand that?] Kerri & her mum came to the hospital tonight. She doesn’t say much. [Kerri was Monique’s ‘previous’ best friend in Brisbane. With hindsight I now understand she may not have “said much” because she too would have been in shock and grieving…] I felt really cranky after the funeral – my leg was sore. people all looking at me [I’m hardly an exhibitionist, but I can tolerate a certain amount of attention. Things mustn’t be ‘rosy’ if I am shunning the ‘spotlight’…] – went home in a stretcher in an ambulance. Rolled over (partly) last night! But woken early by nurses anyway 6:00. ooooh! Bumsore! Legsore! Change of dressing was bad again today. I hate it so much. [I still hadn’t the courage to look at the wound: I have always found that one method of tolerating (physical) pain is to not look at what’s causing it. For example, I still can’t watch the needle piercing my dermis in the act of blood giving, for example…] Tanya (C.) & Alison “helped” me again, tho’ I bit Tanya’s back today. Umah. [Clearly it’s not just my vocal chords that respond to stress: so do my jaw muscles…] Funny – having Tanya in all day. (And yesterday) She’s good company. [She really was one of my Saviours] Mark came up little while once. Tonight for longer … gave him kiss (little) worried – Jaque & Michael B both say Tricia spends 2hrs a day with him. I must trust him. Exerciser again – bending knee higher. memorial service tomorrow. Will it do the final job of recovering me? Will it get me out of shock? [Oh the naivety… if only it was as easy as ‘flicking a switch’…] must be with mark 4 it. about 9:00

A Life in Words
The Civic Memorial at St Monica’s Cathedral spilled out into the street

Wednesday 11/2/87

A Life in Words
A photographer captures my feeling during the civic memorial

packed day. Slept badly again-rolling a little isn’t enough … I went for a shower (reluctantly almost) and stood on my left leg to do so (I went to the ladies for the 1st time – out of a wheelchair – on a seat for the bath.) Then after using the loo- yes, proper loo! for a shit, yes, poo! (Talked to Trina – both of us for 10mins!) Ambulance men came. Mum hadn’t come with my uniform so Jaque let me wear hers. I felt terrible at first. I was smiling & waving at people [well… you were free of your hospital room for the first time in 6 days, and since visitor numbers had declined, seeing familiar faces after ‘so long’ would have been quite refreshing] & couldn’t cry – but later, during the eulogies, it all came out. Monique was my 1st best friend in about 6yrs [I can’t think whom I supposed my previous best friend was… six years earlier I would’ve been in Year 5 or 6 at primary school] – I think my first true one [indisputable]. I love her & I’m gonna miss her so much – not gonna be there (physically) anymore, when I need her… left in tears (news crews there – I was on the news – Mark too & others) They made me get on crutches – walk today. It hurt so much…even more (?? not sure) than dressing the wound ..I screamed but it was better today than “ever”. [“Dressing the wound” was a tad more complex than you might think. Still unable to bring myself to look at it, all I knew at this stage was that they had to ‘pack’ the wound daily with saline-soaked cottonwool, around the two plastic ‘drains’ that were buried in there. That may begin to give you an idea of the extent of the injury…] Lotsa Smithfield people came becca p, Karen & toni & Jo B – gave me a record voucher & chocolates. [Yes, black vinyl. We still had record players in the late 80’s, although cassettes were more predominantly used (in our walkmans, right?) CD’s were pretty much unheard of’.] Isn’t that great? Um, saw mark little – another kiss. He’s going tomorrow. hope he sees me at school lunchtimes. I wonder if Tricia kisses him when she sees him. Bitch – spending too much time with him. [The Green Monster] Hope nothing happens back at school. OH WOE!!

Thursday 12/2/87

I nearly fainted on the crutches this arvy – I decided to try and walk to the loo – but the pain in my leg – the blood rushing to my wound my feet – by my wound – made me light-headed weak, dizzy. After drinking water – I was wheeled to the loo. SHit. I’ve been eating choc-coated peanuts they made me shit 2 times more this arvy. [I can’t decide whether the ‘SHit’ was an expletive because I failed to get to the bathroom on my own & had to be wheeled in, or whether it was an introduction to the statement detailing my bowel movements…] After loo, I went to see Mark – talked & mucked around. He went home. (after long (??) time) But he has to come here 10pm – stay the night so they can check his leg in the morning. Hope he visits me. Said he’s going to movies tomorrow night – & it only just occurred to me: with whom? TRICIA? NO! He CAN’T. WOULDN’T. COULDN’T. might? Oh dear; I hope he visits me lots. I’ll miss him – I already do. Doctors undressed my leg today so I had no painkillers WHATSOEVER. I let out a scream & one doctor revved me. [I was immediately stunned into silence; why did the doctor snap at me? How could he be so heartless? So rough, insensitive & unsympathetic? Aren’t all medical professionals meant to be caring? I was a kid for chrissakes, with a hole in my leg …to which the dressings stuck fast every day. Was I not entitled to react to Pain? I literally dreaded the doctors’ rounds thereafter, and even tried to arrange bathroom sojourns in order to evade them. This experience may also possibly underlie my partial aversion to the clinical medical industry…] I saw the wound – unpacked. Yukky. [That’s a bit of an understatement. A Life in WordsThe only way I have been able to describe it to people is in this light: imagine you took the pastry top off a meat pie, and discovered not only that it was uncooked (red-raw) inside, but that there were also two bits of plastic tubing staring out at you. That was what my right inner thigh (about 10cms above my knee) looked like. It’s a real shame we never managed to take any photos of it.] Then waited ages till the nurses brought the stuff – to repack themselves I was much better today I think. Took stitches out of my [left] knee. God I wish my muscles would work themselves. [That’s what every lazy person wishes with regard to physical activity!] It’s 9:00. I need an early night. So I can hack walking or even standing tomorrow. I hate it. HURTS SO BAD. ♥ u mark!

Friday 13/2/87

My bruising appears to be going down – it’s fading.. I got on crutches lots today… walkies!! and I didn’t scream or even yell when my dressing was done! (I had the Finnish sister – she’s really gentle – doesn’t rip off stuff that’s stuck to the wound- soaks it in NaCl+H2O [saline solution] and gently prys apart.) But the best bit was… MY CAMERA WAS FOUND & THE HORNETTS PROCESSED THE FILM! I Have PHOTOS! 20 photos some good, some boring – but all are great campshots. Not enough of Monique. A few visitors today. Mark came up before he left. 2 goodbye kisses. I’m gonna miss him. He’d better come up tomorrow. If he doesn’t I’ll bash him!! Ha, ha! (Not going to movies- he’s going to dinner with family- “WELCOME HOME”.) Getting rain lots now. Think periods are over, thank god. Ms Mars. came up & gave us (Trina & I) [art] work. Pizza (from dad) for tea. Jaque’s going home tomorrow. Will be boring-er [meaning: more boring] when she’s gone. Yowie fell out of bed last night & Mark almost ran him over today. (in wheelchair) God, he’s lost weight – skinny runt. Restless sleep last night …couldn’t get comfortable – couldn’t roll over much. Shitty right leg. hurry up & heal! about 9:30.

A Life in Words
Sometime after the back-biting incident, I was presented with this teething ring to use during dressing changes. (I think my mum bought it for Tania’s sake!) It was clearly well-used…

Saturday 14/2/87

VALENTINE’S I got from him a red rose, a balloon-on-a-stick (saying “I love you”) and a card (and even a little letter-which is great, considering he finds it hard to write) he came during the last 15mins or so of my dressing- I didn’t know for the first 10 mins. and was babbling on.. Ha,ha. He stayed quite some time- about 4 or 5 kisses altogether today. Love that guy… can’t wait til I’m better & we’re both back at school. Cried more for Monique today. Realised how she’s the only one I’ll really miss – she’s the one who was most part of my life. I love you Monique. I wish you were here. I thought about being dead today. If I’d died, I wouldn’t’ve minded – cos moni’d be with me.. I’d feel none of the pain I get with this leg etc [The contemplation of Death is unavoidable in an experience such as this. You meet with it yourself, you lose your peers to it, you can’t hide from it. Up to this point in time, I naturally hadn’t formed many beliefs (we were never a highly religious family). I hadn’t conceived of much: ‘Where’ exactly do you – did they – Go? Heaven? What is Heaven? Does it even exist? The Fear of Death is simply the Unknown, so it’s clear that in one (very odd) respect I benefitted from Monique’s death: it removed an element of Fear about the Afterlife (or simply, ‘After’). I believed I would not be Alone, and I would not feel (physical) Pain…] ..Few visitors ..boring day cause JACQUE LEFT at 10:30. It’s so different without her. Ate lotsa junk today Hospital food -yukky-some alright. Kentucky from Trina’s parents for tea. I still will cry for monique I don’t think I’ll ever stop – slow down maybe, but never stop. [I was right. But the tears much, much fewer and farther between, because… Life Goes On.] Easier on crutches, esp. tonight.

Sunday 15/2/87

Mark did come in today.. was boring for him, I could tell..reckons he won’t come back or see me for 3 weeks… I reckon he’ll come back. Has to. I’ll bash him if he doesn’t!! [What’s with all this ‘bashing’ Liss? A bit aggressive…] Love that guy. He came in before I went for a shower and had my dressing changed – saw the hole in my leg. Crabbe came in yet again…and Tania, but what’s new? Missing Alyson (nurse) quite a few new nurses now Did my daily exercise – crutch to loo shower, clean my teeth, to the “lookout room” at the other end of this floor & other miscellaneous crutch expeditions. Here I was thinking this diary would be just big enough. Next year I’m gonna get a thick book & write when I feel like it…probly every night, but more often if I feel inclined. Slept quite well last night. Talked to lotsa people, Justin, Daniel A, Dad, mum about their side of the story; what they felt ..what happened to them. [I believe ‘sharing’ experiences assists in the grieving and/or healing process. I have been surprised by the number of readers who have, through their gratitude to me for these blogposts, expressed this. While she wasn’t a ‘diariser’ like I, Mum managed to maintain a journal for a few weeks after the accident and I intend to transcribe parts of that in another, separate post in the near future. Reading it myself is difficult for two reasons: not merely identifying with (or trying to imagine) her experience, but also because she has now passed, her absence (my Loss) is accentuated.] I realised I haven’t dreamt since the accident. 2 weeks almost. Wonder if that’s [a] mental side effect. Will ask a social worker tomorrow. Eeek! Doctors tomorrow looking at my wound. No escaping it! Aaagh! Ate a fair bit today. Ooo-er! Rainy, cool… I think I’m getting better physically… mentally no.. I’m depressed… I’ll be in here at least another week.. I reckon 2. Everybody else’ll be gone by then I bet.

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2 thoughts on “Her Funeral, the Public Memorial & Raw Meat Pie (9-15 February)

  1. Thankyou for writing all of these blog posts about your experience, Elissa. I was in the year 12 class of 2013 at CSHS and we had a memorial assembly before we were allowed to sit in the memorial area. Also, my little brother who is in the year 12 class this year told me at their memorial assembly, Mr Stopford got up and spoke about the incident for the first time since it happened. (yes, he’s still teaching PE :D) thank you again for your posts. X

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    1. You are welcome Chloe, and thank you for your comment: I’ve often wondered what each successive group of seniors thinks and/or feels when they are presented with the history (& the video.. that’s me by the way) I wasn’t sure if Mr S. was still teaching… I’m glad he is still there to keep the torch burning, even though it’s very painful subject. Your brother was VERY lucky to hear him speak (I wish I had) x

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