Banner Day

Writing this blog entry is a bit of an experiment in the theraputic powers of blogging. It is a happy entry, probably the happiest of all the entries I’ve written. But here now in 2014, I am seething about something vaguely related to this whole experience and I’m hoping that getting this up and out this morning will put me in a better mood.

June 12th was a Tuesday and was also the day that the staff met to make major decisions. The first thing I was informed of that day was that I had been given a reprieve on two fronts. First, I would be released from my Swedish restraint. Woo hoo! It was fitting that it was Amy, the nurse who found me sprawled on the floor, who unlocked me from my belt.

Second, my release date was being pushed back from the 15th to the 21st thanks to the Social Worker (I want to say her name was Andrea, but since I have featured another Andrea in a negative light, I will leave the social worker nameless). Double woo hoo! That meant I had another week to get myself together before my release. Not that I WANTED to stick around, but this decreased the likelihood of needing to go to a Secondary Facility, provided that my left leg would “turn on.” And then it did.

I will never know if it was just one of those things that happens to brain injury survivors all the time where something literally comes back overnight or if it was the Angel I Never Met looking out for me and my family, but my left leg “turned on” June 12, 2012 after being paralyzed for over a month. It didn’t turn on perfectly. It will never be a perfect leg again, but it began to support my weight. My ankle had a terrible tendency to turn under, so my PT Cheryl had to roll on the stool next to me to make sure I placed it properly with each step. She talked about ordering me an AFO to support my ankle, but I had no idea what that was. I was more interested in something else. “Can I get off the Lovenox now?”

“If you can do three laps of the ward without me next to you on the stool, you can,” she said. So I did.Cheryl walked next to me with a hand on my arm instead and I concentrated with each step. Heel, toe. Head up. Is this what a montage feels like? What song is playing? Hmm, I’ll have to think about that.

I even managed a FB status update via text (locked on all caps as everything I typed would be for several more weeks): LEFT LEG IS ON LIKE DONKEY KONG! That post, of course, prompted numerous comments from those of a different generation wondering what I meant, but as I couldn’t actually log on to FB only send a text message that would post as my status, I didn’t see these questions until several days later. Technology was still not my friend. I couldn’t handle the screens.

My bladder, too, was finally “turning on.” I had to go 48 hours without a catheter to come off of the scanning protocol, but still had one major stumbling block. I couldn’t pee first thing in the morning when my bladder was at its fullest. What the hell is this?

I talked to Dr. R about it in frustration. “That’s always the hardest one to get back,” she said. I can’t remember what her explanation was and knowing it was a common problem didn’t do anything to stop the visions of home catheter kits dancing in my head.

I have note in my journal that my friend Cheryl (not to be confused with my PT Cheryl or my fellow patient Sheryl) came to visit that morning. The journal also says that we were working on my shoulder subluxation in OT with more stretches. It was resolving, albeit slowly. My arm was no longer in immediate danger of falling off. I’m half serious. When I first got to Rehab, the shoulder subluxation was so bad that my left arm was almost out of its socket. I’m in enough online stroke support groups now to know that this is a common problem for stroke victims on the affected side.

My journal says I saw Robyn the Recreational Therapist that day, too. She may have taken me to the garden. She kept a garden on the hospital grounds with raised beds at standing level that the patients tended. She had already had me plant flowers a couple of times, which was no easy feat as I clung to the bed with my good hand and was supposed to be using my left arm and hand for the digging. The soil was soft, but it was still ridiculously hard to coordinate without collapsing. Now that my leg was stronger, this was slightly less terrifying and I was even promoted to spraying down the garden with a hose from a standing position far from the wheelchair that Robyn still had to use to bring me to and from the Rehab ward.

Matt came in that afternoon and Cheryl (the PT) gave him the ok to transfer me from chair to bed and chair to toilet, so when he was with me, we wouldn’t have to buzz the nurse. Ok, let me just put this out there. I am married to very conservative Canadian. He was born and raised in Toronto. He doesn’t use slang. He rarely swears. He doesn’t even use contractions when he speaks. And he sure as hell doesn’t watch his wife pee or do any other bodily functions nor does he allow me to witness his.  During those last two weeks in Rehab, however, he made an exception (and the first couple of weeks home when I still needed an escort to the bathroom). Watching me pee (or try to pee) was part of the deal and he put aside his natural aversion to such things. You’ll all be happy to know that, two years later, we have gone back to bathroom privacy with the exception of the occasional having-the-door-thrown-open-because-we-forgot-to-lock-it by our now 4-year-old.

Wow, big day, June 12th. I’m pretty sure I went to sleep dreaming of montages (and home catheter kits). I had already decided on a song. My mom, on the phone and in her many cards and letters (I couldn’t handle email any more than I could handle Facebook) had taken to calling me her “Warrior Queen,” perhaps remembering that I had once written an undergraduate Honors Thesis on Celtic female warriors and queens. And so, the song choice for my montage seems obvious. It was a song I first heard when I was 8 years old, visiting Disney World on my first alone-trip with my aunt and uncle. I can still remember hearing it on the radio and instantly thinking “this is the BEST song I have EVER heard!” I saw the video sometime later. Now the song is the perfect example of 80s cheese, but it would be my montage song anyway:

Oh, and if you’re wondering, it worked. 90 minutes after starting this entry (thank you, screens, for babysitting my children), I am in a much better mood and able to face the drama of 2014.

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