I am that Blind Man: One Woman's Story (Part IX)


The four days after my operation are still blurred confused memories for me. Shallow shafts of sunlight into the real world penetrated these ice cold dark days.

For I was in Intensive Care in my own ‘ice cave’.
In an attempt to halt the bleeding, I was packed in ice, then a cold electric blanket. The chilly August wind blew in through the open window beside me and also from as a strategically placed fan. I had a cannula in each foot which were excruciatingly painful, even through the numbing effect of the ice and I remember kicking at least one of them out.
I can still hear the gentle voice of a nursing sister asking, “Did you kick this out?” and my bold and indignant “No!”, which presumed absolute innocence and insult at even being asked the question!

Another vivid memory floods back through the icy mists…late at night, the lights on, voices talking softly. And I dimly, briefly remember my parents watching me anxiously.
“Daddy…where’s Panda? Can I have my Panda please?”
And I now know he drove all the way home to Chatswood – at least an hour’s round trip – to get it for me, though I was no longer awake when he returned. But when next I peered through the fog I spent my days in, I was warmed by the presence of my Panda snuggled close beside to me.
The bleeding the medical staff were trying desperately to contain had caused such massive facial bruising that my eyes became puffed and swollen shut. Only with the assistance of two people, each prizing open my top & bottom lids, could my eyes open a narrow slit so I could see through a squint. This gradually improved, but in the interim to cheer me up I remember another gentle voice, my mum’s, reading two Enid Blyton books to me.

Though I couldn’t see with outer eyes I watched enthralled as the Folk of the Faraway Tree and the children of The Magic Wishing Chair came to life and spun their adventures in vivid technicolours.


‘little girl’_little girl gapinglittle girl lostlying in a rowa dark room tossed__sharp pain shootingup from her feethead so heavyeyes glued asleep__and in darkened dreamsin an icy cavefires of flameburned and raged__then pierced throughslits of lightslivers of daysplashes of night__a warm soft toysnuggled tighta gentle voicehand so right-guiding her back from the light_comefollow meI will show you the waycomewith methat’s for another day_

© Jan Stead
March 1999


Then the wonderful longed for day came.

I was out of my ice cave & could wear a nightie again. For the first time in forever! As the bruising subsided, my eyesight returned and I saw my little sister peering and waving through the window at me. She was not allowed to visit me and had worried I was dead. With the hospital rules of 1965 banning children from visiting, to be allowed to look through the window at her big sister was a great privilege and enormous thrill. And I was overjoyed to see her impish smiling face.

Although not yet allowed to sit up, I was allowed to eat and vividly remember the very first food I requested – a cup of tea! The most memorable cup of tea I have ever had, for it was in the days before tea bags. As I had to drink it lying down they gave me a cup with a ‘bendy’ straw. Eagerly gulped and my mouth filled with a bitter unpleasant collection of tea leaves! A most unexpected but memorable experience.

But then came the day when I waved good bye to the nursing sisters and elderly patients. One of the ladies was disappointed she wouldn’t get to hear the end of The Magic Faraway Tree.
I was wheeled back on my bed into the children’s ward, a place of sunshine and laughter, which had seemed so sad and shadowy just a short while ago.
Then, after some days of delicious food, and an over indulgence of ice-cream which I began to dislike, (and still do), I was finally released from hospital and allowed to go home. But before I did, mum put an itchy contraption on my head.
She and dad had hunted Sydney for a child sized wig for me to wear until my hair grew back. She was exceedingly pleased as punch with the find and her purchase. I wasn’t quite so sure…

©Jan Stead JEMproductions, 1999 & 2007/8

I am that Blind Man: One Woman's Story (Part IX)

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 7

Artist's Description

Chapter 6 in the story, or Part IX of I am that Blind Man is the culmination of the lead up which the previous ‘parts’ have covered.

There may be a postscript, but I am unsure at the moment. But you will know if there is, I can assure you.

I hope you have enjoyed it, although I’m not truly sure that is the right word.
All I know is it is a story I have to tell. Thank you more than I can say for receiving it so graciously.


: )

Artwork Comments

  • C J Lewis
  • Jan Stead JEMproductions
  • Bev Woodman
  • Jan Stead JEMproductions
  • Bev Woodman
  • Jan Stead JEMproductions
  • C J Lewis
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