I arrived at my new ‘home’ which was a specialist neurological rehabilitation centre. I hate new places so I was very anxious and distraught. I really wanted to go home. I just felt like I was being moved from pillar to post. At the time, everything just felt pointless. Didn’t have any hope whatsoever. Nurses and doctors were in and out of my room for the first few hours. A student nurse came into my room and introduced herself, Rachael. She was very friendly and tried everything to calm me down. As soon as I start to antic, my mouth runs away with me, I said “Am I going to die?” She replied “No, you’re here because we think you have got potential”.
Grace, my Occupational Therapist (OT) and Physiotherapist (PT) came in and introduced themselves. I was still completely dependent on a hoist as my transfer. Including ceiling ones which scare me because I always think they will break. I did get used to them after a week or so. To begin with, I had OT and physio 4/5 days a week. Speech and Language Therapy 1/2 days a week.
Over the next month or so, as everyone was getting to know me and vice versa, I felt more comfortable. I completely came out of my shell. I have major trust issues so it takes a lot longer for me to feel safe with people. The student nurse I mentioned earlier, Rachael, she knew a little sign language and she taught me some too. The beauty of a conversation is underrated. This was the first normal conversation that I had since losing my hearing. She made me feel normal. A feeling that I never thought I would feel again. I said she was a superhero because in the space of time she got to know me, she treated me like the human I am, with respect. She is an extraordinary young woman and if she ever reads this, I just want to apologise again for making you cry when I said this to you.
I had not shared a bed with Ewan since my birthday, in January. We were now in June and it bloody hurt us not being able to lie next to each other and cuddle. I asked Rachael if Ewan could lay next to me when he is able to visit. She wasn’t sure so she double-checked with the nurse in charge. Rachael came back the next day and said that Ewan can lay next to me. I had tears in my eyes because it was going to be the first time, in 5 months, that we could have a decent cuddle. Ewan arrived in the afternoon, it was really hot that day, I patted the bed with excitement and said “You’re allowed to lay on the bed with me!”
He smiled and went to lay beside me. I will admit I did have butterflies in my stomach! Anybody would have thought we would have said lovey-dovey stuff to each other as we cuddled. I didn’t. I said ‘You bloody stink!’ I wouldn’t have said anything different because I know how to make him smile. Don’t get me wrong, he does say nice things to make me smile but most of the time he just drives me up the wall 😂 but I love him! ❤️
I had a standard manual wheelchair, I couldn’t push myself around as my arms were too weak. It made me feel imprisoned. I just could not do anything independently. Grace and her student OT came in to my room the next morning with something in tow. A powered wheelchair! They hoisted me into the my new chair and allowed me to do a ‘test-drive’. I felt free! I was so giddy with excitement that I couldn’t stop giggling, nurses could hear me from the other end of the corridor. It gave me such confidence boost!
I started to experience flashbacks of when I was in Critical Care and distressing nightmares which affected my mood and motivation. I was referred to a Psychologist,. She was friendly and very understanding.
I got stronger and began using a standing aid, in my physio sessions, called an ARJO. It’s a clever little gadget! I say little, it is quite chunky! Even though this supported me to stand and sit down, I still had trouble sitting down, I was dropping it like it’s hot 😂. My PT was happy with the ARJO to be my new transfer. I couldn’t stop crying when he told me, I really did think I was going to be dependent on a hoist for the rest of my life. The clips that are shown below, I apologise for the video quality and that my room is a mess – I had just came out of the shower, this was the first time I managed to sit down at a slower place!
As you can see, I was quite chuffed with myself! 😂
Grace regularly assessed me whilst having a wash/shower to record any improvements. My first assessment was OK but I had difficulty washing certain areas such as my back, in between my toes and private areas. Gradually, I made some improvements. It really is amazing how typical everyday items can give you so much independence. A routine, that for years, I took for granted. Brushing my hair, washing my hands, I could not do for months. Now I can! 😁
So, what was the next step in physio? To try to conquer using a new standing aid, the Ross Return!
When I first started using the Ross Return, I was petrified. I don’t like objects that wobble just as much as me 😂. Deep down, I knew I had to build up my confidence with this. The more I used it, the more steadier I became which in effect made the Ross Return steady. If I wobbled then it wobbled with me. I got the hang of it after a few weeks. To improve my control of sitting down more slowly, my PT encouraged me to do squats. I thought, ‘Well this should be interesting!’ When I used to do squats, years ago, 90% of the time I farted! As Shrek would say “Better out than in!”
Thankfully, I didn’t. Not that I would have been bothered but I do try to act like the lady that I am, sometimes 😂. But it worked! We soon noticed a massive improvement as I gained more control. I wasn’t dropping it like it’s hot anymore ☹️ But I was glad!
The day arrived in which I had to say goodbye to Rachael, the day I had been dreading for weeks, her work-placement had finished. My Psychologist came to see me in the morning, throughout the entire session I was in tears. I knew Rachael was special from the moment I met her, I was angry because of the rule that is put in place, which is that we couldn’t stay in contact with each other.
I completely understand it’s to protect each other’s privacy but when a patient, like myself, has been in hospital for a long period of time, they get to know everyone. Some more than others. I have spent more time with these amazing people than I have with family and friends.
I had physio an hour before Rachael was due to leave and I was so worried that I wouldn’t get the chance to see her before she left. But I will never forget what happened in that physio session…
Check out Rehab Antics Part 2!