Today’s post follows a lovely morning stroll/wheel down the road to Sandbanks café at Yelland Power Station, where Beth and I sat in the car park drinking a molten lava latte and I devoured a bacon roll that reminded me of 5-a-side tournaments of summers gone by (where the roll could not contain the amount of meat falling out the side).
The content to come is based around my days spent in hospital before returning home. Then I’m hoping to be up to date and my blogs will become updates of my progress at home rather than anecdotes of those first memorable moments post stroke. As a teacher, who wants to keep everything organised and up to date, it was ridiculously hard to accept that these memories would have to be stored on my phone and not blurted onto a blog post at the time of them happening. My brain just could not concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes at a time, which is still the case hence the reason these updates are so sporadic.
Talking of those memories and following on from ‘bottle gate’ and my constant staring at my toes, I go back to a time lying in bed watching the clock tick by and trying to respond to the stream of messages and well wishes. All of these were amazing and still to this day give me the motivation to get back stronger than before. One of the hardest things in hospital with the current pandemic was not having any contact with visitors in to the ward. Therefore group chats and FaceTime became a godsend. WhatsApp was much easier, especially with my accessibility mode on my phone allowing the words to be magnified to a ridiculous degree. FaceTime was more difficult because my family have always been emotional wrecks and so any face to face contact usually resulted in mini meltdowns on both sides of the phone. Not out of fear or sadness, but just an outpouring of emotion (I’m not sure what emotions because most of the time words became blubbers and usually resulted in early hang-ups). I was told by the therapists that this was completely normal as my brain now has no filter on emotions – not that it did before, but now I have an excuse to cry all the time!
The beauty of being in a ward, like Staples at NDDH, however, is that you come across all types of different people – most of whom you would never encounter in normal day to day life. Being on a stroke specific ward meant that obviously I was the youngest by at least 50 years but from my golfing days, I have never had trouble speaking with people of a more senior age. Next door to me was an ex-Rhodesian army general who had stories to tell of fights against Mugabe where he was blown up and shot at. Not only was he one of the nicest and most welcoming men you could meet, but it gave me a chance to have real-life conversations, even if most of the time it was around the antics of another fellow ward member, Chris, who would later go on to become my best buddy in these strange times. We would become so close that he would go on to write down his contact details on a slip of nurse’s paper and proceed to ask for mine in return, which I gladly gave him. Little did I know when he was discharged 2 days later, he would proceed to phone me mid Cheers on Channel 4 (which starts at 6:30 as those early birds among you would know) and we would have a conversation about how he was doing outside.
As well as the interesting fellow patients I met, the staff I came across also provided much entertainment with their wonderful ways. One of the highlights being a Health Care Assistant (HCA) who decided that Chris was in desperate need of a lock down trim so, following a morning wash, she proceeded to get out a pair of scissors that looked like they’d been stolen from the stationery cupboard in my school. She wrapped some towels around his shoulders, while he was sat in his chair, drinking his morning coffee with 2 sugars and what followed was one of the strangest moments I’ve ever seen in a hospital – a work of art to Chris’ mop-top which transformed him into an elderly Mark Foster.
Not wanting to miss out on this action, Patrick (our army general) proceeded to beckon the lovely HCA and request an eyebrow trim. I thought I would save my mullet trimming for when I got out so I stuck to my regular beard and tash shave which I just about managed to do sat in my chair with my one working hand.
Those regular followers may be wondering what happened to the bowel movements post bed pan fiasco. A brief discussion with the nurses on duty resulted in me being prescribed some Senna tablets to aid with the unclogging (something I’ve never suffered from before). And so, the time came to jump on the commode and transport me to said throne. The speed at which that banana came out was reminiscent of a young Ayrton Senna weaving around the corners of Monaco. A thorough cleaning was needed after this and discussions with the HCAs meant it was a good time to sit in the shower seat and experience my first post-stroke shower. This was much more enjoyable than the flannel washes whilst lying in my bed that I had been used to.
Following my afternoon shower, it was almost time for one of the incredible physio sessions I would receive whilst under the care of the therapy team, which I’m still taking part in at home on a daily basis. Today’s objective was assisted walking. I was wheeled from my bay to the entrance of the gym and, with the help of the wonderful therapists, hauled to my unsteady feet. Following expert guidance, I tentatively took my first steps whilst gripping on to the bar for dear life! This is what it looked like: