8:15pm, Wednesday 6th June
It’s a hot muggy evening and I’m lying in bed. Everything is coming together for my final departure from the hospital. Through a veil of tiredness, I look back at the six-month chunk of my life spent in the rehab unit.
On Tuesday afternoon, my mother and I visited an outpatient rehab centre near where we live. The visit was successful, not only in confirming that this was the place for me, but also in completing the milestone of two steps without aids (not using crutches) when I was briefly assessed!
This morning, my physio and occupational therapist visited my house to assess and adapt it for my homecoming in 10 days. For the first time in a year I was able to climb the stairs (with a little assistance). The first floor of my house felt smaller then I remember. It was a surreal experience. Afterwards, I walked outside on crutches, one of my final goals. I had worked so hard and waited so long to be ready to go home, finally, it is within touching distance.
Most of this afternoon I spend in a tired daze, remembering moments of pain, frustration and the occasional glimmer of glory. So many faces had passed in and out of the unit in my reign as longest resident, so many healed before me, and some who could not be helped. It feels strange to be moving on. Something I had been so desperate for six months ago is suddenly possible. Back then I feared being institutionalised. But in some ways, it has already happened. Cognitively, getting used to dependence is inevitable when you become reliant on others to move you, to reply to messages for you, to feed you, to toilet you, to drive you and put you in the car, to wash you and to organise your diary for you. It is by no means forever, but it is for a long time, much longer than expected, and long enough to make readapting back into independence a challenge. One more challenge added to the list of challenges that GBS has kindly brought me.
Back in La Paz the situation looked dire, I would have given anything just to have a fighting chance. A chance that if I put my mind to it I could both live and be mobile at the same time. Now look at me, I got what I wanted and more!
5:15pm, Thursday 7th June
This afternoon I had my final progress meeting, a meeting between myself, my mother and the independent specialists to discuss where my recovery is at, and what steps should be taken next to maximise my progress. These progress meetings are held once a month. The first three meetings had been tough as I struggled to digest the slow nature of my recovery.
Today’s meeting, after all we had been through, felt as though we had made it. Once we had covered the crux of the meeting and confirmed that we were where we needed to be, and I was ready to go home, my psychologist turned to my mother and told her how impressed she was at my ability to handle the last six months. At this, my mother burst into tears, the whole journey of how far we’d come, running through her mind. For some reason the song ‘You’re Still The One’ by Shania Twain was circulating in my head, so I opened up Spotify and played it out of my phone on the table.
3pm, Wednesday 13th June
I leave the day after tomorrow.
Many have asked about how I feel in about leaving the unit. In truth, I feel very little. I have firmly settled into a routine of being a passenger to the locomotive of time. Weeks and months have gone by, many things changed, but the residual of the ‘take each day as it comes’ coping mechanism technique is still firmly in place.