When I was finally stabilised it was time to move to the Royal Ryde Rehabilitation Hospital. This was bliss compared to my former surroundings and my home for the next 4 months. I still had to be ‘hoisted’ from bed to chair or shower or wheelchair but there I was dressed and given access to an electric wheelchair almost immediately. I had just enough strength in my right wrist to push the control throttle. I was away!
Then the real work started. I had to relearn how to sit up independently (first for a few seconds, then a few minutes). The same applied to standing, walking, and feeding myself. It was months before I had the strength in my right hand to lift a light plastic cup to my lips and drink. I am yet to do this with my left hand.
The road to recovery has been slow and thankfully steady - with my hands being the last to recover. I had just assumed that I would be fully recovered before I left rehab. It was a shock that I was not. Returning home again was initially very scary. What bliss it was when I could toilet myself independently again. I now take pride in doing many mundane things I used to take for granted like washing up, using the washing machine, hanging out clothes, and doing some limited cooking (happily more each day). I passed my driving test several months ago and now drive a slightly modified vehicle.
I am no longer afraid to walk alone in the street, for fear of falling or being knocked over. It is only recently that I can dress myself and wear ‘normal’ clothes. The other day I did up the zipper of a jacket I had on for the first time; that’s harder than zipping up a garment you’re not wearing. My immediate future goals are simple:
- Having more confidence in holding my grandchildren
- Being able to cut up the food on my plate with a knife and fork
- Being able to do even more food preparation
- Typing faster on the computer with more fingers or, even better, two hands
- Lifting and putting away books above waist height/shoulder height
- Maybe some day resuming my career as a qualitative market researcher on a limited basis.
Our society’s calendar is recorded BC and AD. My personal calendar is before and after GBS. Before GBS I worked as qualitative researcher in market research where I loved listening to people tell their stories – which is in part why I decided to tell part of mine.
I haven’t given up on having close to full recovery. Who knows how my journey and this story will end.