I had spent a couple of weeks, maybe a bit more, having to be hoisted out of bed in order to get into a chair. This had started off with nurses needing to lift me bit by bit to get the sling of the hoist underneath me before I could be moved, but had slowly progressed to the stage that I could shuffle myself onto it. I was now ready to sit on the edge of the bed! I know, I was a big boy now!
I dreaded trying, but I knew that I couldn’t go home until I proved that I was capable of walking and safely negotiating stairs. As it turned out, it was easier than I had imagined. It took a bit of bottom shuffling and swivelling into position, but I managed it. Once there, the physiotherapist asked if I wanted to try standing, which I did. This took a lot more careful movement and needed the bed to be lowered so my feet were touching the floor whilst I was still sitting. I needed to be helped into a standing position, but once there I was able to stand independently for a few seconds. Anyone with children will remember seeing their child standing for the first time, all wobbly, uncertain and proud looking; well that was me. I felt the biggest sense of achievement imaginable. 2 to 3 weeks ago I was unable to move or talk, now I could stand up by myself. It was something I had taken for granted for years, yet a period of being unable to do it, or anything, had made me appreciate how precious such basic skills are to us. To some extent it felt like an extreme version of that experiment people do at school where they try and negotiate the corridors safely whilst blindfolded in order to gain an appreciation of the challenges faced by people with visual impairments. It does give that appreciation, but can’t give you the same experiences because you know that you can just remove the blindfold and see perfectly well. I was in the same position; I could experience that feeling of being locked into your own body, unable to do or communicate anything, I knew how it felt to need someone to feed you, wash you, clean up after you have (to put it politely) made a mess. What I can’t pretend to understand is the knowledge that things will always be this way. I knew that I was going to improve, and although at times it was a living hell, I had the future to hold onto and work towards. Not everyone has that blessing.
Eventually, of course, the standing progressed to walking. It was 2-3 steps at first, but became more and more as I worked on it. It all had to be done within the confines of my room because I was still in an MRSA induced isolation, but we worked around this.
During this period I had a fantastic surprise. When Mary brought Kirstin to see me I was expecting the visit, but one day at visiting time the first person through the door was Iain, my eldest son. Mary says that my face just lit up when I saw him, she didn’t need to , I could tell. It remains one of my best memories, because it was so unexpected and I hadn’t seen him for about 5 weeks at this stage. It also made me even more determined to get out of hospital as soon as possible.
I finally got out of HDU and into a general ward. It was the female section of a geriatric ward, but this was only because it was the only place with a spare private room. This was great! I still had my own TV, the bed was much more comfortable and I knew that the next step was home.