I lay awake in my hospital bed after surgery, the priority right now that I have to prove that I can pee. The anesthetic can put the bladder to sleep apparently, and if it doesn’t rouse that means the insertion of a catheter.

They fitted me with one during the initial surgery some eleven days earlier. I woke to find the catheter inserted you know where, and an external fixator fitted to my leg – that’s like scaffolding screwed directly into the bones to hold them in place while they wait for the swelling to go down so they can then perform the actual surgery.

I wore the catheter for a couple of days. It was convenient given I was bedridden. During one of his periodic visits, the surgeon said it was a risk of infection, and instructed the nurse to remove it. That was a short but intense discomfort that I don’t want to repeat.

So now, that’s my biggest dread: another catheter. And, presumably, the insertion of it while I’m awake. I need to pee. I desperately need to prove that I can pee, which means I have to take the pressure off myself. When I stress about doing it, that’s when I can’t.

I try to distract myself with other things. My right leg is numb; they’ve cut me open and inserted plates, as well as incorporated a bone graft – I don’t know why. Right now, the pain’s bearable. But come the morning, once the effects of the morphine and ketamine have expired, I know I’ll feel the pain of being cut open and plates being drilled into my bones.

Closing my eyes, I try to visualize a healing light shining on my leg. I’ve vowed that I will do everything possible, explore every avenue, to ensure that this leg will heal fully, regardless of the amount of times the surgeon has told me, “This is a really bad break”, and the concerns around the nerve and structural damage.

An image paints itself in my mind, a gorgeous but surreal forest-scape, the colors so bright and overwhelming that I know this isn’t something that exists on this Earth, or that my imagination can conjure. Even this is just my poor interpretation, my limited mortal understanding of something far greater than my mind can conceptualize.

But what fills me is an impenetrable tranquility that I’ve never experienced – not from times I felt blissful calm when I used the sedative Ativan as a nineteen-year-old; or like what I felt when I randomly yet organically meditated when I was in my twenties, and would feel a soothing peacefulness; or when my GP dosed me with eight milligrams (when ten is overdose territory) of Xanax daily for two weeks to get me through the horrible start-up effects of Aropax when I was thirty.

I open my eyes and the vision disappears.

It’s the ketamine – it has to be; the anaesthesiologist told me pre-surgery that the ketamine might cause hallucinations, although nothing like this. She said I might imagine people would be speaking to me. Or see grass on the floor. But they’re external things. This isn’t. This is entirely internal.

I’m not alarmed, though.

I close my eyes again to a similar sight raveling into my mind.

I’ve had friends who’ve experimented with drugs, or been casual drug users, and I’ve never gotten it. I’ve never understood the need. It’s not something I’ve ever done – haven’t felt I’ve needed to given the way my mind bounces around anyway, and the proliferation of psychiatric drugs that were hurled at me when I was younger.

I get it now, though – the addiction to this experience, and the desire to duplicate it.

But I wonder exactly what it is, because it feels organic, like some aspect of my mind’s been unlocked, some niche free of worry and concern and anything negative.

I want to stay here, embrace it – or be embraced by it – because I’m sure I can find healing here. This is something beyond the hospital, beyond physical concerns, beyond everything I’ve ever known, and thought I’d know.

This is someplace else that I’ve tapped into.

The nurse returns and after I tell her I still haven’t peed, she suggests gravity might help. I’ve been prone in bed for almost eleven days. She thinks being vertical might change things.

So, just hours after surgery, I sit up, ease my left leg out of bed until I’m standing on it, keep my right leg horizontal on the bed, and position the bottle under me.

I pee – not a lot, but enough to offer relief. When the nurse returns, she concurs. It’s not about the amount, but just showing if my bladder’s working. She takes the bottle away.

I lie back in bed. Sleep’s an impossibility – I slept for a couple of hours directly after the surgery, so there’s no tiredness.

Right now, there’s nothing but me, my bed, and the gorgeous forests.

I close my eyes and let myself be taken away.