Three years ago...
I'm walking down a long corridor. It is lined with mirrors on either side. They are the width of a door and they reach from ceiling to floor and are spaced around yard apart.
I start to look into each mirror as I pass. Nothing. There's nothing there. Just the reflection of the mirror across the corridor. Mirrors leading into infinity.
My pace quickens. I am walking faster and faster. And still the mirrors are empty.
I start to run. The mirrors are now flashing past. Mirror after mirror after mirror. And then I get to the last one....
It's early in the autumn term. I've worked solidly teaching back to back all day without a break. The pain between my shoulder blades I went to work with this morning is worse, and I shift about in the seat of my car, longing to be home.
I cook for my menfolk but don't have much of an appetite. Starman, concerned, tells me to go and relax on the sofa and he'll bring me a hot drink. But I have marking to do and planning for the next day. I'm a woman. I'm used to multi-tasking.
By ten o'clock I can't cope with the pain and discomfort any more. I leave my husband snoozing gently in front of the TV and go to bed. It's hard finding a comfortable position to lie in, but I am so exhausted I manage to drop off.
And wake at 4 am.
The pain is worse and I need to pee. I realise I am going to be sick and I wail as I cling to the porcelain. I can hear Starman awake now and he calls out to check on me.
I can hardly breathe. The pain has moved around and is directly between my breasts. I call out to him in fear, and he is by my side in an instant.
Reality blurs at this point and time ceases to have any meaning. I know the paramedics are there. I know they are trying to stab me with needles. I hear one of them say my veins have collapsed and they are having difficulty getting the morphine in.
I shiver and shake in the ambulance. I will remember Starman's white face forever. He wasn't even allowed to hold my hand because of getting in the way. The lights were flashing and the siren was going.
The pain was too bad to cope with, yet I felt very calm. They had taken me to the usual local hospital, but now we were on our way to a well-known hospital specialising in 'hearts'. I didn't think I'd get there.
But I did.
The noise, the movement of lots of people in scrubs, the voices talking. 'Can you hear me Ami? Can you hear me? Look at me. Keep looking at me.'
A face looming over me. 'Ami, I'm going to put this tube into your femoral artery. We're going to clear away this problem. Look at the screen, you can watch if you like. Just keep still, try not to move at all.'
I blearily watched the screen. Watched the little red line tracking along the path through my artery all the way to my heart. A few seconds. Then...then...then...
I could breathe again. Breathe easily and without pain. I actually smiled. I looked up at the man who was gently removing the narrow tube and telling me not to move whilst he ensured the artery was completely sealed. I worried, instead, about the fact that a dozen or more young interns were gazing in an absorbed fashion at my pubes, and whether or not I would ever get over the mortification of it!
Within four days I was home again. I felt as if I had run several marathons, but I had no pain, not even a twinge from the stent they had put in my heart.
They didn't ever discover why I had had the heart attack as my heart showed no sign of disease at all. Just that 99.5% blocked artery. And it only takes one of those... They thought it may have been due to a DVT in my leg after a long-haul flight back from holiday. But we'll never really know.
I'm walking down the corridor again. The mirrors are as before. But this time there is a difference. I can see my reflection in some of them as I pass.
And I know that the world has jerked forward on its axis, and for me will never be the same again.
"Time for the burning of the days ended and done
... let them go to the fire with never a look behind
That world that was ours is a world that is ours no more."
Laurence Binyon 1969-1943 The Burning of the Leaves
Little did I realise it at the time. But this was the first moment that signified my first steps towards becoming a submissive wife....
(Just a quick addendum to the ladies. If you ever, ever get a pain between your shoulder blades, get checked out by your doctor. Apparently, this is where many women first register the signs of a heart attack.)