To say I had made a quicker recovery than expected was an understatement. 5 weeks after being admitted to A&E I was up on a general ward and working harder than ever at my walking. I was able to take more visitors and my youngest son, Jamie, who was only 2 at the time, came to see me for the first time.
For my physio sessions I would be wheeled down to the hospital gym and I would practice walking with sticks on flat ground, eventually progressing to a small set of wooden steps, which felt like climbing Everest at first. I would also get the chance to sit on an exercise bike, which I found a lot easier as I wasn’t supporting my whole weight on my legs, but enabled me to add some strength to them. I could feel myself getting stronger through the day.
On this ward I saw something which totally shocked me. As I have said, I was in isolation due to the MRSA (unclean! unclean!). Every day the cleaner would come round with a mop and bucket, open the door, drag the mop through the door, mopping as she went, mopped the floor in my room and mopped her way back out. What was the point of the isolation? Don’t get me wrong, I liked the privacy, but really! You wonder how hospitals can be cleaned every day, yet bugs like MRSA can still spread, there’s your answer.
Although I couldn’t leave the room, I enjoyed having the ability to get myself out of bed and walk around it whenever I wanted. It still left me incredibly tired just making a few steps, but it felt great. What wasn’t so great was the fact that I still had a whacking great open wound on my abdomen, left open to avoid any abscesses, which needed cleaning every day. This wasn’t a nice gentle wash, but the cutting out of dirty wound tissue. As this would have been very painful, I was allowed that staple of the maternity ward, gas and air. I don’t know what the street value of this stuff would be, but I reckon it would be rather high. I felt amazing as my abdomen was hacked at by pink elephants and sparkly unicorns.
After a couple of weeks I was ready to attempt…… THE STAIRS!!!!! (Dun dun dunnnnnn!) OK, slight over dramatisation there, but this was big. There were three flights and I was to try one to start with, which I did with surprising ease and speed. What I didn’t do was stop. I immediately went for the next flight, then the next one. I had made it to the top, first go. The challenge was to get back down safely, which I did with equal ease/determination. I knew what this meant. Within a couple of days, and a couple of check ups, I was finally given the ok to go home. It had been 7 weeks, some days looked like the only way I was leaving was in a box, but I was actually going home. On 19th March 2003 I had everything packed and was finally discharged from inpatient care. I went out via ITU, to visit the nurses there who I owe my life to and give then some flowers and chocolates, but nothing could do justice to what I felt about the work that they do. Then I walked out of the doors of th hospital, still using 2 sticks, got into the passenger seat of my father-in-law’s Chrysler Voyager, and made the journey from Poole to Swanage I had been aiming for.