the colour of pain

18th August 2011

As I am wheeled down the corridor towards the ward I can hear music. We slow to turn a corner and Queen Victoria stares coldly down at me, I wonder what I have done to piss her off. The walls change from white to marble, the ceiling is suddenly a mile away and there is a man playing ‘What a Wonderful World’ on a piano. Are we in an opera house? Behind me, Ash and the Kiwi nurse are discussing the snow in Churton Park. I fall into the geographical vortex between my two homes, not certain of where I am.


The pain had arrived gradually.aking from a broken sleep I struggle to get up and feel irritable all morning. I can feel a dull ache in my belly (which I will classify on the pain-o-meter later as a ‘1’).

After a small unsatisfying lunch, I walk into a meeting room for some poor sod’s interview and feel light-headed and clammy.

Introductions are made, I sit and cross my left leg over my right so I can make notes on my lap. And suddenly I am stabbed in the lower abdomen (pain-o-meter = ‘5’).

I do not (cannot) speak as the interview begins, and grip the chair to breathe through this development, thankful for our prospective candidate’s monotonous quiet voice.

Minutes pass and I know I have to leave the room. In four minutes I will leave. I pray quietly for 240 seconds. As I stand up, the knife twists deeply (7) and then again as I raise my arm to open the door (8) ‘something isn’t right’ I say to my colleague who rushes to catch me.


I am lying on the floor of the meeting room and somewhere above myself too. Our chief first aider is a thoroughly sensible, calm woman who strokes my hair out of my face. The ambulance is on its way. Ash will meet us at the hospital. Breathe.

Pain is not my friend. It tears at me, I wonder if I have been bitten if something is still biting me. I move my hand down to push the offender away. There are more voices. K arrives, she puts her hands lightly on me and I instantly feel

There are more voices. K arrives, she puts her hands lightly on me and I instantly feel heat (I learn later that this is Reiki). The pain does not change, but somehow I can leave it.

I drift away and find myself imagining a small cave on a hillside, there are blankets and cushions on the floor and a small fire burning. I am alone, warm, safe. The view is a little like that behind Mona Lisa; villages, fields, a river down to the sea. Lit by a full moon.

‘She’s conscious, she’s breathing’.

I am back in meeting room 5.10 and I see large black boots, green trousers. People talk to me in calm voices. I am lifted into a chair, covered in a red blanket (moments ago I was sitting on a red blanket by a fire, did I bring it back with me?).

In the ambulance there is gas but I ask for K. I need to get back to the cave and I am not strong enough on my own. I can’t explain what I need in words they will understand. They have a checklist. Then K is there and I suck on the gas and I am back in front of the fire, worrying for myself lying in an ambulance, speeding through London.

The gurney shakes me awake as we enter the hospital and then Ash is there and I cry properly. With relief and fear and pain and worry.

A hand grips my foot softly ‘don’t worry love, we’ll take care of you’. Dr Dave is from Wellington too.

I feel the tight pinch of a needle and drift off to sleep as the bustle of the emergency room goes on around me.


After 36 hours at St Guys & Thomas Hospital, I am home. It seems that a small blood clot in my ovary severed blood flow to it, causing it to spasm and twist. It has untwisted itself – thankfully on its own – surgery is often required, and if blood flow is stopped for too long it can irreparably damage the ovary. However, it seems there is no permanent damage. I am a bit tender and knackered but very grateful that no medical probes are going anywhere near my vagina for the foreseeable future. 



Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totallyInstagram - join me there?


Search the site

Get Posts by Email