top of page
  • montanafillingham

Two steps forward, I refuse to go back…

There has been big progress in the past week. I'm mobile for one. It was a long and emotional day, but I got out of that bloody bed. Thing is, first I had to get washed and dressed. Doesn't sound like much does it? And a bit of a 'duh' statement, but I'm starting to do this myself, and trust me that is big progress in itself. Up until now it's been a ritualistic bed bath. I'd just do my top half up to where I lost feeling and then the nurses would take over and do the 'other bits'; and I'd chat to them, ignoring how utterly dependant I was - or I thought I was. Not an inch of me would get missed during this scrub down and 80% of it not by me. The sheets would usually be wet - if they aren't wet then it isn't a bed 'bath' you see. I was grateful for these washes, I always felt better after; but just like you outgrow your mother bathing you it was time to do this my way. Instead of being led flat suddenly I'm upright and reaching my lower limbs. The wash was less thorough and concentrated more on specific 'areas', though it probably took just as long because I have to manoeuvre the pair of heavyweights I now have for legs.

My legs looked different too. The ankles were skinny, my calfs less curved (I'd liked my calves, the way they'd looked in skinny jeans made me feel so feminine and sexy), while on the other hand my thighs and feet felt bloated. I dunno which was worse. The cold, rock hard feet; soles that hadn't seen a solid floor for weeks turnt a slight yellow with disuse… or my flaccid thighs, that spread across the mattress like a blob fish and felt like a million lbs to lift. At the time my sadness at these changes was masked by an eagerness to do well and be independent - but I noticed. It's hard not to recognise a massive change in a body so familiar. I managed it all; at least until it came to getting my knickers and yoga pants over those hips of mine - no mean feat and I won't lie that took effort ... and help. My mother keeps ‘gently’ suggesting that perhaps choosing yoga pants is making things more difficult for myself, but they’re the comfiest thing that also look pretty good - I have standards you know! I’ve never chosen the easy route anyway. Still, my fashion sense aside, I was gonna have clothing on my bottom half! A luxury for sure. Although, I then I stupidly thought about the potential for 'accidents' and had a panic, not knowing if I'd be okay with my future mother in law washing my shit stained panties, and more importantly whether she’d be okay with it. My own mum is 2hrs away... There was a moment of embarrassment and panic before I realised I'm now not confined to bed and they have washing machine here (sigh of relief).

Admittedly, I would also need help with the actual getting up, from the lovely staff and… Mr Hoist. For weeks I'd starred at that purple spindly machine, dreading the moment I'd have to be intimately acquainted with its shinny limbs. I imagined it to be deeply uncomfortable; I feared it would be majorly painful, but most of all I hated the idea I wouldn't be in control. As with most things we build fears around - spiders, clowns, confined spaces - it turned out there was no solid grounding for my fear. It was like being in a weird one person swing-come-hammock-come-cradle. Actually, it was fairly enjoyable compared to some experiences of the past few weeks and even the lack of control was okay when you put your trust in the nurse with the remote. I was manoeuvred and gentle placed in my new wheels. TOUCHDOWN!!!

I stared back at the bed for a while. The place I'd led for 6 weeks solid, giving time for my body to heal, to breathe, to rest. It amazed me that I'd been in that one place so long; more so that there wasn't a Georgie shaped crater. I looked around the bed at all the cards of love and hope, the gifts to keep me smiling (like the dinosaur balloon my brother got me this weekend - that kid knows me). I took a moment to appreciate all those who were cheering me on, those that would be so happy about this progress. Then all that came was a desire to move. Buckle up bitches! We're going for a ride. Without hesitation I put that wheelchair to purpose. A shiny red frame like a kids first bike, and I felt just as unsteady. I always thought wheelchairs would be intuitive. Turns out it's a skill I've got to learn - but even though I was as clumsy as a teenage boy faced with a bra, I didn't let my fumbling stop the joy that shone from my entire being. I was just so excited. Siting up had been a slow coiled spring; I felt like the pinball now. I felt ready to fight. My excitement was matched by the staff, one in particular. In the absence of family and friends it felt good to have a comrade there to watch my first... Wow ,no idea what the word would be... Voyage? Drive? Rotations? Pushes? Anyway, it was nice, and she even took me for a tour of the grounds. I felt free.

You'll laugh but the first thing I did after that was... Organise my cupboards. Forgive me but I'm a control freak. I wanted to know where my stuff was, and go through what I had of what. It was while sitting there, busy organising and fussing that my fiancé came strolling down the ward. His face was priceless. At first complete bemusement - ‘Wait she's not in the bed? Why is she not in the bed? Oh there she is. She's sat up!’ - Cue a massive smile spreading across his face. That's why I'd been refusing to go back in to bed - pressure areas be damned! - because I wanted to see that face, I wanted him to see my progress and because I'd been waiting for this; a chance to go outside together. Just that iota of privacy was lovely. I can't imagine how couples who have been together 50years, or even 30 must feel when one goes into hospital. We had barely spent a day apart in 9 months and having that normality pulled from underneath you had been unsettling and upsetting. I miss him, even though everyday since the accident he's been in to see me, to comfort me, to watch me sleep, or be target practice for my frustration. I'm thankful that he's in my corner telling me we can get through it; it being any obstacle, scary situation or roadblock I can conjure from my whirlwind worried mind.

Anyway enough of the mushy stuff - I'm just saying it was worth the staff hovering concerned about blood supply to my bum cheeks. You see because I can't lift my bum properly, or feel when I'm uncomfortable, this can result in something called pressure sores, where basically the skin dies due to lack of blood supply - Do NOT google image them, just trust me they are not fun. I eventually caved to going back to bed and to be honest I was ready; most people do an hour on day 1, I'd done two and a half. I was shattered. You don't realise how much little things will take out of you when you've been lying down for 6 weeks. Also I admit my bum felt weird, almost supremely numb (again how I can feel where I have no feeling blows my mind) and while I may be stubborn I try not to be stupid.

Flash forward a few days and I'm frustrated that driving the damn chair is not that easy. Funny when what you thought would be your best friend turns out to work against you. The first time I went outside alone I felt like a fawn, so unsure of the next move, making small mistakes with panicked corrections. Driving is what got me in here! I'm just so on edge about tipping the damn thing over; and I've gotta’ learn how to get onto pavements yet. My hands hurt so I've had to buy gloves which make me look butch and feel more 'disabled'. I can't get my head round that yet. That I am disabled. Not that it matters, not that it makes me any less Georgie, but because it is different. People look at you differently. People are sometimes nicer; when my brother visited he took me out to the village and a lady let my hold her new puppy, but I wonder if they’re nicer out of sympathy. People also look and you can see they want to ask… I wish they just would. I wish you couldn't see that they pity you too - 'look at that poor girl, I wonder what wrong with her?'. Not a lot guys, I just can't use my legs (yet), otherwise I'm pretty normal, I'm not dying, I'm not diseased. Going out to the village was nice though. Some semblance of normality. Again there were challenges and anxieties; I'd never thought much about wheelchair access until now and there were many pavements, bumps and hills Harry had to help me with. I'd never have done that alone. This sense of vulnerability is over whelming.

Now I am grateful, even if it seems like I'm moaning. I realise what progress there has been and I'm proud of myself. People keep saying how nice it must be to be up, and it truly is, but unless you are sat here in this chair you will never understand the other side of how it feels. The stark spotlight on everything you've lost. Laying in bed it wasn’t so clear, but with every new experience what has been lost is that much more obvious. It's like a double decker bus to the face. Having to shove a tube into your bladder every 4 hours to drain your wee because that basic function isn't there anymore. Poking around blindly to find the right hole is maddening, especially when you've put catheters in many people before as part of your living. Being woken at 5 to pop suppositories where the sun don't shine to 'train' your bowel, because it's also forgotten 'How to'... Yes, the fact I'm doing these things myself means I'm less dependent and that’s great, but it's still difficult to accept this is my life now. The nurses are kind and supportive, as are all those who love me, but I don't think people realise how frustrating it is to be praised for putting on your fucking socks without help when 2 months ago you were learning how to do iliofascial blocks and suturing large lacerations. I've come so far in a week, but it has shown me just how much further I need to go.

It's been a pendulum of emotions; swinging through all the stages of grief. However, I'm making a list of goals each week. I can do this if I put one foot infr... Dammit! if I just keep on rolling… (…rolling, rolling, rolling HUH! I get that song stuck in my head for at least an hour a day at the moment, seriously considering it as a ring tune, that or 'they see me rollin' or 'rolling on the river'; bad taste I know). I need to take life one day at a time for now, but what can I say? I'm impatient! No, scratch that, I'm determined. This shall not beat me, we shall overcome.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page