I have recently been discharged from hospital after breaking my hip and femur. A day, which I had been longing for; however, the discharge came with conditions such as having physiotherapy at home, visits from my Occupational Therapist, scans and X-Rays, blood tests, seeing my Doctor more in the last two weeks than I have seen her in the last two years and having a carer.
Very few things are as humbling as having to have a carer. It is a time when you must admit to yourself that you can no longer cook your own meals, take a shower, make the bed or even dress without help and someone there to make sure that you that you do not fall or hurt yourself. For me it has also been a very positive experience, I am fortunate enough to know that with grit and determination that I can become independent again, I am one of the lucky ones; there are many more discharged from hospital after an accident or severe illness that will never be able to be independent again.
I live alone, and enjoy living alone; it came as very strange experience when I had to let a stranger into my home twice a day to take care of me. The carers are very cheerful pleasant people; they are understanding and possess that most important gift: the one of empathy. Although, there is one that is not quite as understanding and as empathic as she could be; but she is the exception rather than the rule.
Immediately after my discharge, my day would begin with my carer arriving at about eight-thirty in the morning. However, because it takes me a long time to get moving I get up at about seven-thirty so that I am reasonably mobile when the carer arrives. The carer would then help me with my shower, make the bed, prepare my lunch, make sure that I had breakfast, make me a cup of tea, have a chat and if my waste bin was full, take the rubbish out. The chat was and is very important; it helps to maintain my need for communication with the outside world. That said, I have some very good friends who either visit or meet me for a coffee or a pint; they may not realise it, but their friendship is a major factor and driving force in my recovery process. I count myself as very lucky to have such good friends!
In the evening my carer would return and prepare my evening meal and check on how I was, I no longer have an evening carer I prepare my own meals, to be honest I was fed up with microwave meals and scrambled egg on toast. The time in between my carers visits, or as it is now, after my carers visit, is not empty time, far from it. I have a whole series of exercises to do throughout the day; these are mainly to help me regain the flexibility and strength in my leg, I must also go for increasingly longer walks each day, now with crutches, later with sticks. Since the operation, I have had Oedema in my right leg; that is why I wear a slipper on my right foot. In the morning, I go for a walk, after which, I must sit down with my foot up for two hours to reduce the swelling, which can be painful. In the afternoon, I again have to sit down with my foot up for one hour, after a shorter walk plus exercises. It may sound boring to you, to have to keep doing the same thing each day; but it is far from it. I can see and feel the progress I am making, because I walk a little further a little faster, my leg is getting stronger and suppler, therefore each day I achieve a little more, knowing this, almost forces me to try harder. I know now that I will become independent again, sooner rather than later: even though my recovery has, been hindered by an infection in my leg, the infection is now slowly disappearing.
Because of the exercises and walking there have been several major achievements such as; preparing and cooking my own meals from scratch, putting my socks on without help, having enough confidence to shower and even changing my bed, although I must admit this was very painful, and I had to take a break halfway through. It is strange that such mundane tasks and actions can become so important.
There is an old adage, which says, “There is no gain without pain”, and this very true as far as my rehabilitation goes. So far, I have graduated downwards from, near agony – to incredible pain – to severe pain, my next level is pain followed by ache et al, until there is no pain at all. All I will have to deal with then will be having one leg shorter than the other, regaining the ability to drive my car and phasing back into work. Then Bingo, I am there!