A year ago today, a mechanically propelled vehicle was driven without due care and attention in that for no apparent reason, it crossed the double continuous white lines onto the offside of the road, where it collided with another vehicle causing serious injury and damage. That’s the cold legal description anyway. The real life version, making me cry into my mug of tea as I type and think back is a different cold truth.
The last year has involved waking up in broken pieces, unaware of my surroundings, believing I was in a military hospital, that I was part of some elaborate experiment, doped up to the eyeballs in a half sleep dreaming the hospital ward was being invaded by giant insects and crawling to the foot of the bed in the dead of night to make my escape. I was rescued by nurses as I perched on the edge and brought back to reality with a request to not be so silly and go back to sleep. The world’s not at end dear, it’s just the NHS. There are two aspects to the NHS; the officious one, and the one I have to thank for putting me back together and saving my life. From the firefighters, ambulance crew, air ambulance crew, and the fine nurses and surgeons who put me in a coma, whipped out offending tissue, pinned, plated and wired me back together like a cheap version of the $10 million dollar man – I can move in slow motion too! I’ve been told repeatedly by some consultants that work on my elbow was miraculous and have since learned saved from partial amputation. Thank you.
Eight weeks of hospital food, NHS double-speak and miscommunication, staring at curtains, being ignored by physio-terrorpists and then tortured to tears, being bed bound until my electric wheelchair arrived then being electric wheelchair bound, unable to walk. Privacy and dignity absent when the only thing between you and the world is a curtain as you have to use a bed pan multiple times a day as your system calms down after bowel surgery, and you’re reduced to the dependence of a baby. A battery of scans, x-rays, nurse and consultant evaluations, blood tests, drugs to swallow, daily injections, bi-hourly blood pressure tests and the daily ward routine to keep you in line. Body parts in casts, then recast, in exterior pinned and sprung metal fames. I won’t mention the hospital food. A week before being allowed home, rather than packed off to a nursing home by a social worker, the physioterrorpists arrived, as they will forever be nicknamed and began to process of getting me on my feet, or on my right foot, as my left ankle remained non weight bearing for some time to come. Take some painkillers before we come they said…if I’d had monster insect inducing morphine, it might of dulled the pain, but paracetomol and codeine weren’t up to the task, as those early standing exercises on my right leg felt as if someone were twisting a knife into me. Even the physio’s winced. Still, that convinced the NHS committee that it was safe for me to escape their grasp and come home.
There was relief at being home, but then a concern over not having a button that called for a nurse on hand. I tried snapping my fingers at Rach, but for some odd reason it didn’t work… Getting out of bed into the wheelchair, either to get up or go to the bathroom was an event in itself, involving aches, pains, and shuffling on a wooden ‘banana’ board. Because of the multiple injuries in different places, nothing was balanced or easy, not being able to lean on this arm or the other, not being able to put any weight on the left ankle, but any movement or weight going through the right leg causing great pain. Showering wasn’t possible until much later down the line, and even sitting still was painful as all muscles, whether damaged in the accident or surgery or not at all, had shut down after months of inactivity.
Ok, stop the moaning, think of a positive. Our cat Bailey obviously felt my pain, as the one and only time he’s sat on my lap is when I’d come home and was in the wheelchair. I’ve been repeatedly told by family and friends, doctors and physio’s that I’ve progressed as well as I have because I’ve remained positive and active. Highjacking my own photography blog has helped to vent various situations and see the ridiculous and random nature of things. As cliched as it often sounds, either when in hospital or a year on, it is remarkable that I even survived, didn’t lose a limb or the capacity to walk again. That’s the overriding Zen thought process, though I still have to deal with pain and discomfort on a daily basis and a cloud hangs over me that I’ll never be able to straighten my right arm, or go fly fishing or play golf, or play the guitar as much, or hold a camera comfortably. Simply walking down the road is difficult and painful and most of all frustrating; that it may always be this way, that I may always have to look down at the path ahead or worry about what’s around the next bend.
But, I suppose as Frank Sinatra liked to say, that’s life…