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  • montanafillingham

6 months 2 weeks 4 days

This isn’t a downcast or anxious post, (at least not entirely), and it’s not a super chipper, ‘I will make paraplegia my bitch!’ post, (again, not entirely); it is a hybrid, and a bit of a shock. I’m Home. Not a visit. Not overnight leave. I am in what Me and My fiancé, (I know it should be Carl and I, but that’s always sounded too regal to me) are to call home, at least temporarily while “They” find a more permanent place; and in actual fact I have been here since Wednesday.

My total time spent in hospital was long, but not as long as I first believed, (the clue is in the title), and while originally I had hoped to walk out – whether on crutches or a doing my best Bambi impression with a frame – I am still proud of how far I have come and what I have achieved.

On Tuesday I was a knot of anxiety, because I knew that, come the weekend I would be leaving rehab. Was I really ready for that? I’d just had my first full weekend leave, and having arrived back at the hospital late afternoon Monday, I couldn’t decide if I was relived to be back with a buzzer in reach, or if I was uncomfortable to be back somewhere without personal space or creature comforts; my own bathroom, a personal shower chair, (that I know hasn’t had any of my fellow patients asses on), and control of my own schedule. I decided I was about equal parts scared and eager. My home leave had gone okay for sure, but I hadn’t been prepared for some things. Like how although you know discharge is a big step forward, it feels like being thrown back, to a time when you knew how to get from A, (the bed), to B, (the wheelchair), but you were just not quite strong enough for it to be a breeze; you’d feel scared to throw your head forward to get a good swing, and find yourself teetering on the edge of your definition of safety. A time when turning over in bed wasn’t a quick negotiation with your legs and pelvis, but a full blown argument - after a number of failed attempts. Then again I guess it’s like a game, you complete a level and progress to a more challenging one.

The frustration can be intense to a point of ‘rage-quitting’ the thing you are trying to achieve. Unfortunately, this is not a game and for those who have said to me ‘I don’t know how you do it?!’ here’s the secret… I don’t have a choice. I have to get on. I have to stick with it until it gets easier. It will, because it has in hospital. I can throw myself around the hospital beds and get in my wheelchair in two shakes of a squirrels tail – I shall miss seeing those little fuzz balls roaming the grounds here – so eventually I’ll get to that point at home; but am I ready to deal with that change yet?

On my first overnight stay I had been so worried that my tummy had been churning since being picked me up. I’d been quiet the whole drive – those that know me will realise that, (unless my nose is in a book), this is a rarity. I was so uncharacteristically quiet that the fiancé kept checking if I was okay over our celebratory breakfast. We got back to the house and I felt more than queasy, so after a bit of housekeeping I decided to roll onto my side, see if I could settle, and the discomfort would hopefully do one! I wanted to be as happy as he was. He reminded me of an excited puppy, running round after me and finding the simple things – like just watching something together on the sofa – enough to make his ears prick up in glee. That’s when I smelt it. I reached around with utter terror of what I was pretty sure I was about to discover and put my hand on the outline of a solid mass in my leggings. No! No! No! I wasn’t due my bowel care for ages. My ass shouldn’t work on it’s own! Alas there it was, an adult sized solid turd. I wouldn’t even be able to sort it myself without smearing caca on the new sofa, or just making a general mess.

I was so embarrassed. My fiancé had dealt with a lot when I was originally in hospital. He’d said he hadn’t cared about me shitting myself then, but I was supposed to be better now. I didn’t want him to clean up the mess, or even see the mess. I felt humiliated and probably the least attractive I ever have. I can be rational and say it’s just par for the course, part of my injury and as such nothing to be embarrassed about. But come on! It’s devastating to be 26 and shit yourself, let alone not be able to clean up your own mess. He was just completely un-phased though, (or at least he put on a good front) and sorted me out; reassuring me all the while that it was okay and together we’d sort it out. I know of no stronger test of love than a man willing to deal with your poop for you and, still kiss you later as if you are the sexiest woman alive. No one is perfect and I still nag him and get supremely annoyed at times, but who doesn’t; men just have a different logic, an annoying logic. But I have to give him his dues; the way he’s handled things lately has been bloody incredible.

Apart from all that though, I guess I managed pretty well. Since turdgate I have had no further accidents and I’m getting used to the new house. I’m getting a routine in place. I’ve got the bathroom set up for my bowel care and shower needs. My study is coming along nicely with my big beautiful desk. We’ve raised the sofa so I can sit and read and get on and off of it, rather than getting on and being stranded. The kitchen is the only major sticking point; the counters, sink and cooker are too high and the turning circle is pretty crappy to negotiate, (8 point turn style), but that provides a good excuse to not do the washing up – I hate washing up.

So Tuesday morning the Dr breezes in and essentially tells me if the weekend went all right I’m free to go, when it’s convenient for me of course. At first I was just shocked because the plan had been to stay until the Friday and now I could potentially be out of here in the next 24hours. Was I ready? I’d blustered and said yes ,of course I’d go tomorrow but what if I wasn’t ready? The fiancé is working nights again, I’ll be in the house on my own, what if I fall? What if I fall and don’t have my phone? What if I have an accident, make a mess and then make a bigger mess trying to clean it up? I felt like I’d had a bucket of water to the face. Then I realised I could play the ‘what if’ game all day. There will never be a perfect time to leave here, and it was always gonna’ be daunting. Change is scary and this has been my home for half a year – even if it doesn’t feel like that long. I’m gonna’ miss my fellow patients, and some of the staff, but we all leave here eventually and the ones I’ve become close to will have a hard time getting rid of me. A shitty circumstance has made me some friends for life; it’s about the only thing I’m grateful for.

So Tuesday night I knew I was going to leave the next day, and having kept this secret, I sat and looked back over 27 and a half weeks of pain, disbelief, distress, denial, (Ooh! Look at the unintentional alliteration), and found amongst it love and laughter and most of all hope. My time here has ended, but my next chapter awaits. I do feel ready to take off the training wheels, (not literally, wheelchairs without wheels don’t work that great), and get back to living my life. Things have dramatically changed, but it’s time to face the changes and embrace a new life, and only I have the power to shape it. I already have so many plans and ideas. I’m not an idiot, I know some of the hardest challenges are ahead, but I am ready. I’ve come a long way, but have much further to go yet. I thank you tribe for all your support in the last 6 months. I credit a lot of my strength and success to the amazing support network I have, including all of you. As I’ve said the journey is far from over, so I hope you stick with me, but thankyou for everything so far.

For now it’s time for me to get stuck in. Here goes…

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