Sharing a disturbing true story sent in by a LEPster by email. This episode contains some slightly scary and graphic descriptions of nightmare scenarios, visions, hallucinations and bad dreams, but there is a happy ending. Video version also available.
Video Version with text on screen
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Iñaki’s Nightmare (and how LEP came to the rescue)
Hello listeners, welcome back to the podcast. In this episode I’m going to tell you the terrifying true story of a LEPster who went through a horrible nightmare but was rescued thanks to LEP.
This episode is based on an email I received a while ago (quite a long time ago now). I have been meaning to read this out on the podcast for some time now and I am glad to say that today is the day I am doing it.
I feel compelled to share this story with you and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
I often talk about LEP Ninjas on this podcast and complain that the vast majority of my listeners never get in touch with me, and I wonder who you are, what you’re doing while you’re listening and what this all means to you.
I often say that, but in fact I must say that I do get a lot of correspondence from listeners in various forms – episode comments, tweets, YouTube comments and emails. I love receiving your messages because it really helps me to know that there are people on the other end of this podcast – not just numbers but people, receiving my words and connecting with what I say.
Every now and then I receive a message that I simply have to stop and respond to there and then, even if I’m in the street or something, and there are also some emails which I feel I must share on the podcast with my audience. This is one of those emails.
I absolutely felt compelled to share this particular email with you, and felt it had to be in an episode of its own. So here we go.
It’s a compelling story which you might find fascinating, stories are good for learning English, as we know, I’m sure little bits of language teaching will come up here, and in this particular story I emerge as the hero who saves the day! So, naturally I am delighted to let the world hear it! (haha)
A slightly disturbing story
Some people might find this story a bit disturbing because it involves descriptions of surgery. So this is a heads up about that.
There are references to some physical, body related stuff, but also some slightly disturbing mental images too – some nightmarish visions and bad dreams, let’s say.
You’ll just have to listen to the story to understand what I’m referring to, but FYI the story has some slightly disturbing moments.
I should also say that this story has a happy ending. Things turn out fine in the end. So, if this makes you anxious, then don’t worry, the story ends in a happy place.
So, without any further ado, let’s just get straight to the email which I received from a listener called Iñaki.
I’m going to read it out as it was sent to me. It’s very well-written, but I might make a few changes here and there – I will correct one or two little errors relating to vocabulary or grammar.
Also I will comment on certain words in this story to help you learn some things as we go.
Message: Hi Luke:
How are you doing? My name is Iñaki and I am writing from San Sebastian, in the north of Spain.
First of all I’d like to thank you for your podcast. I started listening to it some six months ago because my wife recommended it to me (she’s been a premium subscriber for a year or so).
I have been listening to you ever since because I think what you do is very entertaining and interesting and I think that my English gets better too.
I know what I am about to tell you looks a bit boring in the beginning but please keep on reading because you show up in the middle of the story.
On the 29th of March I got a surgery operation to cure my apnea.
For your information, this operation took around 6 hours while I had general anesthesia.
They cut both sides of my jaw. Also they cut below my nose to move the position of my palate. Then they put everything together again in another (slightly different) position by using some screws.
All of this sounds a big frightening but it is a very usual operation with very low risk. All the surgery is done from inside your mouth so it doesn’t leave scars.
I took the decision to go ahead and everything went OK, and now I am fine at home and getting recovered but it is also true that when I woke up I felt a bit lost and my mind was not thinking straight and this was the most difficult part of my recovery.
So my operation was on a Monday at 08:00 and I woke up on Tuesday at 13:00. The doctor told me that the operation went fine. After, when my wife came to visit me she also said that the operation had gone right.
So why did I think that this was not true? Why did I start to suspect that something very bad had occurred during the operation?
I can’t quite explain since I don’t think I am such a negative person or I am not so hypochondriac.
But the truth is that my mind freaked out quite seriously and my paranoia was that the doctor had committed a fatal mistake during surgery and now all the doctors and nurses were backing one another up to hide this mistake.
Since this idea was on my mind I couldn’t let it go and it only went bigger and bigger. All of the things I heard or saw fitted perfectly in MY reality. For example, a nurse said to me “Iñaki, why are you so sad? The operation has been v… successful”. So my head went: “why successful? Why not VERY successful? Why did she start the word VERY but she didn’t finish it?”
And this went on and on without control. My wife was with me all the time and she did a great job but still she didn’t manage to get these ideas out of my head.
Monday night I was totally sedated with the anesthesia.
Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep (and I mean not even a minute) because I was so frightened…
Tuesday and Wednesday I couldn’t eat anything.
So by Wednesday evening I was exhausted due to the lack of rest and food. This didn’t help my mind get stronger. So on Wednesday evening I was quite certain that their plan was to let me die on medication.
I could feel that my wife had taken part in that decision. I thought that the idea was that since my life was not going to be worth living it onward, they decided to let me go.
Of course, now I see that it didn’t make any sense at all but my mind was not able to work better than that on Wednesday evening.
I accepted this idea and I decided to be collaborative in the process. They gave me medication to calm me down and I could feel that my mind was even more clumsy. My wife told me once and again that the most important thing was to rest, to sleep. In this way the next day I would feel stronger.
For me this was a soft way of saying: “If you calm down and you get to sleep soon, then your death will be more pleasant”.
This sounds terrible to me now but I also think: in some situations in your life you need to lie to the ones you love in order to protect them, don’t you?
I mean, what would my girl tell me in a situation where I really was about to die? Would she clearly say it? Would she tell me straight? I don’t know…
I tried to sleep but this was very difficult because when I closed my eyes I could see some horrible images.
These images were not dreams.
All the time I knew that I was in the hospital and my wife was beside me. So I guess the images were a result of the medication and also my lack of strength.
The images were really terrifying. All the scenarios were dark, humid and steamy. In many of these images there were thick fluids (black, brown, dark grey…) flowing in different directions.
Among these ugly liquids there were macabre things floating: a pig’s mask, the face of my son in the 3D radiography when he was still in his mum’s belly, bones, parts of bodies….
I could also see parts of machinery like gears or parts of motors. These metal parts were broken and I was looking at them from very close and I had the feeling that they were looking at me, judging me… and it didn’t feel good.
Also crazy things like a kid crawling on the ceiling (clearly inspired by the film Trainspotting) or even me crawling on the ceiling. In another moment I was like a video camera up in space and suddenly I went down to the earth, to England and I ended up inside Brian Jones’ swimming pool and I could see his corpse from the inside of the water.
I also had to say no to entering inside tunnels with a light in the end. A couple of times I was brave enough to go inside the tunnels because I thought“OK, this must be it, let’s end it all now”. But then nothing happened….
With all these images in my mind I was not getting calmer, my breathing was out of control and I couldn’t sleep. This took like 2 or 3 hours, I think.
Then my wife came up with a new idea. She said: “Iñaki, what about listening to that episode of Luke’s podcast that you liked a lot? That one in which he read the short story by Roald Dahl? Maybe that’s going to calm you down….”.
Honestly, I didn’t believe that this would work but at least it was something different and since I was desperate I agreed that it was worth giving it a try.
When I heard your voice, the images automatically changed to something different. I started listening to your words, but since the images where suddenly very nice I was paying more and more attention to them and even if I could hear your voice in the background I wasn’t listening to your words anymore.
Now the images where very colourful ones. For example I saw some based on cartoons that my kids see on the TV.
I remember seeing characters of the series “True and the Rainbow Kingdom” and “The Octonauts”. I also saw some very nice cartoons in the style of Sgt. Pepper’s artwork and the Yellow Submarine film.
Among these “visions” I remember one in particular. It was very pleasant and it stayed for a while: there where some magic carpets with stripes of very beautiful colours. They were floating in the air and my 6 year old twins were jumping on them and using them as slides.
They were laughing and having so much fun.
Mixed up with this action I could see pictures floating around in the air. These were pictures of the 4 members of the family together: my wife, the kids and me…..
When your voice stopped because the chapter ended I noticed it. I was conscious for the first time that my breathing was very calm. I also was conscious that I was thinking in a more positive way. I was thinking: “OK, maybe I don’t have to die tonight”. Since my breathing was calmer and my mind was calmer too I got more relaxed and I finally managed to get to sleep.
That night I slept and woke up many times but I think I got to sleep a total of around 3 hours.
Early next morning, at around 6:00 am I listened to birds singing. It made me feel good because by then I was totally convinced that I would hear that sound many times in the future.
I was also a bit ashamed that my mind had been so confused and I made my wife suffer so much. I thought a lot about you too and I felt grateful that you helped me in my recovery.
I was also grateful that my wife came up with this great idea which really made the difference.
But, of course, my mind was mainly with my kids. Can you imagine the infinite happiness of knowing that I would be able to hug them again when only a few hours back I thought the opposite?
All of these words are only to explain to you how I went through a very rough situation and how you helped me get out of it. The moment I heard your voice is the exact moment that I started to get out of this horrible hole I was locked up in. So in the end all of this is only to say thank you. Just because it makes me feel good to do so.
Luke: Summarise the story in your own way, in your own words.
Iñaki and I exchanged a couple of emails after this and he said he was happy for me to read this out on the podcast.
Here is my response.
I’m glad you’re ok with me reading out your story on the podcast. I think it’s absolutely fascinating, and of course I’m always happy to tell the world any story in which I emerge as the hero!!
Joking aside, your experience must have been absolutely terrifying and horrendous and I am genuinely amazed and pleased that the sound of my voice was reassuring for you in those moments.
I don’t know if you’ve heard my Sick In Japan episode (episode 118 – I think). I ended up in hospital in Japan once. I felt dreadful and I didn’t really know why I was there because I didn’t really understand what the doctor was saying. Thankfully it turned out that I was not seriously ill, but the first couple of nights were very frightening because I felt very bad and my diagnosis was lost in translation. \
I thought I was seriously ill and was afraid that I might die. I felt very paranoid and had to work hard to keep my mind calm. Like I mentioned – my experience wasn’t quite as bad as yours, but still – I have a slight sense of what your experience must have been like, and it’s incredible to me that the sound of my voice helped you to get through it. It’s flattering to know that, but also very reassuring and encouraging that my podcast can bring comfort to someone.
I also think your story is very compelling and well-described, so I think it should be fascinating for the LEPsters to hear it.
And, I truly believe that bad experiences become a little better in our minds when we turn them into stories which we can share.
You certainly have a great story there, and I think my audience are the perfect people to appreciate it.
So, I’m very glad you’re happy to let me share it. Hopefully it will provide something gripping for the audience and I really hope you enjoy hearing me read it out on the podcast.
Congratulations on your English too by the way. You described the story very specifically and clearly.
In any case, I’m glad to hear that you’re basically back to normal again.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I read it again this morning and I found it very moving – especially the moments when the joy and colour came back into your mind when you listened to my episode, particularly the visions of your happy family.
Have a great week, and all the best to you.
Some words & phrases to review
- A compelling story
- A waking nightmare
- A vivid dream
- To have surgery
- To have an operation
- To have a local anaesthetic
- To have a general anaesthetic
- An anaesthetist
- To anaesthetise
- To (not) think straight
- To suspect that something is happening/has happened
- Paranoia / paranoid
- To back someone up
- To manage to do something
- To tell something/someone straight
- Breathing / breath
Thanks again to Inaki for providing that story.
Quite a scary one!
I often wonder where you are and what you’re doing while you’re listening to this podcast, and if you have a similar story, don’t be a ninja – let me know in the comment section.
But for now, it’s time to say bye bye bye bye bye