Feb 12, 2013 11:26pm
We are down to the wire here at rehab; I may be going home soon. This does not mean that my healing is done, far from it, but my time living in the acute rehab center is drawing to a close. There is just some haggling with the insurance company as to when exactly I will head out (there is also the issue of an excruciatingly expensive week in intensive care that may not be covered by insurance, but that’s another story…) As it stands, I may be going home this week or the next.
Of course, I am excited about the prospect of going home but I must admit to some trepidation as well. I have only been walking unassisted for a week, so my stride is two parts Jerry Lewis busting for a pee and one part of a doddering little old lady with sagging underwear. This is far from the square jawed, heroic personification that was recently posted here :). So, as much as I want to get out out of here, a few more weeks practicing walking would be much better.
Anyway, in the event that I do leave this week, I would do exercises at home to build up my strength, while being watched over by an outpatient physical therapist once a week, until I grow strong enough to make my way to the outpatient physical therapy center. Next, I would have 2-3 months of therapy, 2-3 times weekly until I am strong enough to continue mending on my own.
Every few days during my recovery so far, I have to readjust my estimates of how long the process will take. In my early days, with the flawed judgement of a recently severely traumatized and bruised brain, I thought I would be back to fighting trim in 6 months or so. Now I realize that it will be a process of years, will require some major adjustments, and that the best approach is to think of it one day at a time.
Thankfully, I do not have to do this all on my own. Right from the moment I was struggling for consciousness in a palsied tangle on the floor of our apartment, Julia showed up in the nick of time to call the ambulance. By doing so, she quite literally saved my life, and she has been by my side ever since. What a marvelous girl she is. How would I ever get through this monumental task without her? I’m so grateful that I will never know the answer to that horrifying question because I have Julia by my side. Dear Julia.
I have been extremely fortunate in my choice of brothers. My brother Jo was at my bedside within 24 hours of my stroke, in fact he was here before my mind was even remotely functional again. For the next few weeks he was with me as I clawed my way back to semi-lucidity. He now is back with his family in Virginia and I will always be grateful for the time he watched over me and provided a friendly face when I woke from sporadic sleep, or gave words of wisdom in the early days of my recovery.
Within a week of Jo departing, my brother Rob made the long trip from Australia and he is keeping me on target as we speak. At present, he is helping me with this newfound superpower of walking. At the end of February my brother Dom will take over. By the time he gets on a plane back to his family, I should be mobile and hopefully semi-autonomous. It is impossible for me to imagine getting through this ordeal without these tight-knit group of warriors and loved ones.
Now that my quad muscles have finally properly activated, walking is the priority and I hobble along hesitatingly with a cane. The neural pathways are being rewritten as we speak, so the walking is still very sporadic and broken-robot like, and takes every iota of my concentration, and a fair bit of grunting besides. Another problem is that my muscles have atrophied in the past month and I have a lot of trouble walking beyond a short distance. Hence the importance of AC/DC therapy.
My brother Rob has appointed himself as the therapist administering this powerful therapy; offering affirmations and exhortations as AC/DC music (Bon Scott thank you very much) blasts out of the stereo. I can only imagine what this might look like; me flat on my back on my hospital bed, sweating bullets, and doing a red faced bicycle maneuver, as my brother massages and supports my enfeebled legs, while yelling “it’s all you, bro” isms… judging from the expressions of startled horror from the nurses, who promptly slam the door and beat a hasty retreat, it must be bordering on pornographic.
I knew that I did not breathe properly and often forget to breathe altogether when engrossed in some task or other, so having my brother Rob on board as my full time breath coach and mindfulness guru has been invaluable.
In a significant gear change from ACCA/DACCA, one evening the three of us played CDs of Buddhist chants, and had a lengthy chat with one of our nurses who was once a Buddhist nun. Suddenly, a package was delivered to my hospital room that contained a fart machine and a rubber chicken amongst other wonderful, silly, paraphernalia. My old friend John Stevenson has his own approach to the mental health of hospital patients.
I have been lucky enough to get quite a few lovely cards and presents since my time in hospital. Movies, plush toys, books, food and personal artwork as well, all including some beautiful glass birds. I think my room is the most colorfully decorated in the ward, thanks to all my friends. Which brings me back to my earlier point; I’m so glad that I don’t have to slog this out on my own.
Thank you, all of you.