1:30pm, Wednesday 2nd May
Two days ago, I had the six-month anniversary for my first emission into hospital. In these six months that have brought me to the stage of walking on a zimmer frame I have fought for my life, been medevacked back to the UK and spent five and a half months undergoing intensive physio to recover my movement. Looking back, I have mixed feelings. Relieved in the knowledge that the hardest part is over but also pained, knowing that after all I have been through, I still have a long way to go before I can regain my independence and have my life back.
Yesterday was a busy day, starting with a swim. Afterwards we picked up my grandmother to take her to the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford for an appointment she had. Unable to park at the hospital, mum deposited us at the entrance. If I was to describe by grandmother in one sentence it would be;
A generous, slightly bossy, religious little old lady who often has to be restrained from preaching, and like many old ladies, behaves a bit like a chicken.
Making it to the hospital information desk, my grandmother managed to promote us through the queue by complimenting a poor lady in a wheelchair on her stick before nicking her spot. The walk to the clinic was far beyond my grandmothers chosen range of 50m and asked if I would be able to push her in a wheelchair. Being in a wheelchair myself I explained that it might be difficult. 100m later we realised we had missed the turning and had to go back on ourselves. Although this was much needed exercise for my poor grandmother, she was not best pleased. On arrival to the clinic, I gave my grandmother a glass of water and left her there so I could go find mum who had just parked.
With mum I went up to my old ward. I was dreading is slightly, wondering if it might trigger some sort of emotional outburst. At the wards reception I saw a nurse I recognised, Emily. Emily who is the mother of two young boys was one of the first nurses to look after me when I arrived in the ward. She is also the very same nurse who wasn’t sure how to react upon discovering the contents of my washbag, lots of condoms. We toured around the ward and it was nice being able to see the ward in a different light, a perspective of someone who had freedom to move between rooms. I was reminded of how restricted my body was during my time there. I feel relieved to have progressed so far.
Unfortunately, Granny was unable to have the surgery planned for this appointment as the clinic couldn’t deal with the capacity. For me the visit had been a pleasant experience, reminding me of how far I had come. I sat with Granny whilst we waited for mum to collect the car and pick us up and got to hear her life story for the first time;
At twenty-one she left her job working as a personal assistant for Winston Churchill and chose to live and work in Switzerland as a translator for Nestle. Having only an O-level in French she was forced to learn to speak the language on the job. She then fell in love and got engaged to a chap who after a couple of months was posted abroad in Jamaica. She arrived eight months later on a banana boat only to discover that he had been misbehaving with some of the local girls. That was the end of that, so she pursued a job for a hotel on the Island. One day she was set up on a blind date, this man turned out to be my Grandfather. The rest is history.
Leaving the hospital, we now planned to go for lunch at a pub in the town Send. This all changed when Granny caught sight of Guildford cathedral and wanted to go for lunch there instead. Not having any reason why not, we went there instead. My Grandmother was now a very happy hen. By the time I got out the car with the help of Mum, Granny was making her way into the restaurant. Before leaving we lit some candles in the Cathedral; one for my grandfather, one for my grandmother and one for our beloved dog. We then towed Granny away from the guided tours stand and drove back to my rehab unit in Woking.
My Grandmother described Winston Churchill’s traits as dyslexic, eccentric and an incredible charisma.
This morning has been relatively uneventful, accomplishing nothing more than adding to the progressing plan for my book. I say ‘nothing more’, but a couple of months ago I could only dream of writing but was restricted by physical and emotional limitations. I guess that’s what recovery is all about, undoing those metaphorical shackles that hold us back from doing what we would rather be doing.