You may now breathe…

White light in a cold tube. The sides of the tube are close, glowing softly. Too close to focus. There is an apparatus on my chest – it lies like a sleeping dog. The machine whines. The trolley I’m stretched on inches into place. An American voice in my headphones gives orders. “The next scan is 30 seconds “. Most of the scans are short. Breathe in. “ The machine voice pauses. Not long enough. “Breathe out.” “Hold your breath.” I lie still, holding my breath. “You may now breathe.”

“Takes just over an hour,” I was told. Five scans in and I stop counting. Time shrinks to an infinite moment of breathing and holding. My feet are cold. I can feel the wound of the line into my arm. If I open my eyes there is only the white glow. Breathing and holding. I’m wearing a mask. Outside in the quiet hospital, others walk masked like me. Their time is shrunken too. Breathe in. Breathe out. A human voice in the phones. “Right. The stress test. Coming through. “ and I feel my chest tighten as the chemicals wash in, swirl around. I brace for pain; it comes very gently. The discomfort ebbs away. Another chemical. Dye. More scans. More scans. The trolley moves. Daylight. Outside, gown flapping and panicked, I turn a corner and find my waiting daughter. She is exhausted and asleep. You may now breathe…

You may now breathe…


By phelim rowland

as you were...

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