After what felt like a good couple of months I was allowed home again. It had actually only been less than two weeks since they’d done my leg and hip surgery, but I think hospital stays often tend to feel longer than they actually are.
The ride back was long and painful. The place where I had had it done was 60 miles away from home. I’d been practicing building up stamina sitting in a chair for the few days before the trip, but after a couple of hours I was really relieved to be able to do some physio and stretch out.
Not being in the hospital anymore brought with it a new set of challenges. My dad and sister were around to help out a lot more now, although my dad had to go back to work and Sophie was only around six at the time. Thankfully at the time my mother was working a job where she didn’t work the school holidays (which it now was, being August) and that was a huge help. Between us, we’d sort of managed to get a handle on how to work around a few things in the hospital, like showering and getting me in and out of the bed, but that would be different now. We didn’t have a walk-in shower at that time, and it was upstairs anyway, so lots of the routines would take a while to figure out. Dad would often carry me up the stairs and put me in the bathtub, but often my mother just washed me down in our kitchen while I was sat on a commode. We knew we had lots of things to figure out still, but in the back of my mind the count- down clock to Operation Two – the muscle bit, which I’ll get to later – had already begun. It was scheduled to take place around six weeks after the first, probably sometime around the end of September.
My dad had done a great job in turning our dining room into a living space for me. My hospital bed (complete with a Monkey Pole and remote control) had been put in there, along with all my other bits of equipment, and he’d set up a TV for me too, for when I didn’t feel up to sitting in the living room with everyone else.
The first few days were really trial and error with just about everything. The physios were really great at the time and came out two or three times a few to try and help us conquer new techniques and check my progress, with which they were always really pleased thanks to our huge family team effort to make the most of the opportunity I was given. The four of us were –are- a truly awesome team.
At first things were frustrating because I didn’t have much arm strength to pull myself up into sitting positions, or use the slide board very well and that took its toll on my mother quite a bit when dad was at work. For a while, it took three of us (mum, my sister and I ) to be able to get me onto the commode in time, with Sophie taking the arms off my wheelchair, mum putting the board beneath me, me trying to scoot along it, and mum having to pull down my pants on my behalf because I had to put all my efforts into lifting myself up enough for her to be able to do it, at top speed, before I fell down again. I still wasn’t allowed to fully stand up, and hovering was still really painful and hard. Throw in the added time pressures of a full bladder and I think we must have looked like we were competing in a rejected round of the Generation Game, but it usually ended up in us all collapsing in a heap of relieved giggles when we succeeded.
By the time I no longer needed the slide board (several months later) I had arms like Tarzan from sliding, wheeling and pulling my own body weight around. I’m now ashamed to say that I have lost most of this definition in the years that have passed, but my arms are still much stronger for it. Now I know that if I ever need to have any more surgery, I will definitely be investing in a good set of weights several months beforehand to try and make it easier on myself and my family.