Drinking, Anniversaries and Zombies

Apologies everyone, time has been running away from me. So sit back and enjoy the warm weather for this (in Britain at least) Bank holiday weather 🙂 and take in a leisurely catch-up read.

Tales from the Ward Chapter 50: The Demon Drink 

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You’d think for a pseudo medical facility/ residential home/ rehab centre there would be some kind of check on how much alcohol any patient can hold.

But my room is beginning to resemble the bar of the Rovers Return.
Two bottles of wine.

A gin house containing four gins, three of which I’ve heard of, two of which I’ve tried, and a black bottle I’m really rather suspicious about.

But as fond as I am of gin, it is the Swedish vodka Absolut that is my absolute favourite.

They’ve been doing this promo pack of flavoured vodkas at the local supermarket.

Just a tenner for five miniature glass bottles that are good for at least half a dozen swigs each.

Raspberry helped me as a mild anaesthetic for a minor surgical procedure a few weeks back.

And the vanilla one reminded me of ice cream.

If I’d not necked the raspberry one so quick I could have enjoyed a raspberry ripple effect I suppose.

By the fourth bottle I’m getting a bit easy with how I drink my vodkas.

I’m nearing the end of my lime vodka. Slowly I twist off the top and lift the bottle to my lips.

But I’m too quick to throw my neck back and the vodka’s going straight down the wrong hole.

I’m choking and the vodka’s burning my throat. I’m trying to cough but I can’t draw breath without inhaling pure lime hinted vodka. I don’t want to die of vodka aspiration.

Somehow I spit it out.

The next morning I’m coughing fluid out my lungs.

Ever the hyperchondriac, I diagnose the start of vodka induced pneumonia.

 

Tales from the Ward Chapter 51: The Anniversary.

This week marks a date I would rather forget. One year since my admission to hospital and the start of what has been one of the toughest years of my life.

A dramatic shift from independent person, able to travel solo – despite disability, live alone, drive, to one that requires two others to help me get up, wash and dress.

Anyone who knows me will tell you how independent I am.

What life could I have having someone watching over me day and night?
Unable to transfer from chair to bed or toilet. Incontinent and using adult daipers. What life was this?

This isn’t a post about the complete inadequacies of social care in the UK.

But being placed on a rota of when I can get up, piss or shit is not a life. Or certainly not a life I care to lead. And what hope could I have ever had of having a social life when government approved carers would come at 9pm to put me to bed?

I have to thank Quadriplegia for helping save me. She told me about the rehab centre

I’ve now been at for 6 months. And to the several hundred others who helped finance my stay here. Progress is slow and the work is hard. I can’t stand yet. I may never.

I’ve had a funky catheter coming out of my belly for 6 months too. I don’t need to worry about peeing anymore – only to remember the small leg bag that needs emptying. Often.

I fear embarrassment but others don’t seem bothered. A long-haul flight to Africa is no longer filled with dread.

And overseas travel is possible if you make the effort to find people who can look after you. Disability is not inability, just a lot more planning.

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My present days are busy, filled with routine.

Physio, hand and arm therapy, cycling. Food, mostly inedible. Waiting for the fights between Djokic and Karin, who gets more aggressive by the day.

I still rage at the NHS and its inefficiencies. Good now, I think, only for placing a sticking plaster over a massive gaping wound.

Chances for new drug treatments six months away at least.

But I am still here. Plans for a new business are underway.There’s the possibility of a job.

The days are long now and I wake early. I listen to bird song and think.

The carers come to shower me and we gossip about the Royal wedding. They’re moisturizing my bare legs, but there’s no awkward intimacy.

Would it be better if things had stayed the way they were? I’m not so sure.

I’m no less of a person because my physical self no longer moves in the same plane it once did. It’s taken this year for me to accept the new me.

The crazies and weirdos of this neurological space are my neighbours now.

Tales from The Ward. Chapter 52: Zombies

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The sound of The Zombies ‘She’s not there’ drifts through my open windows.

It’s very warm for May and the sky is perfectly blue.

The song is ‘live’; being thrashed out by one of the carers, who clearly dreams of a different life as a pop star.

But it is a welcome relief from the tuneless pap muzak emanating from Marin’s room further down the corridor.

I’m trying to decide if the choice of song was deliberate or accidental but the guitarist is playing in the garden of the dementia unit.

I giggle to myself as the chorus reaches its crescendo.

The warmer weather seems to have brought a change of feel to rehab.

Marin seems to have taken a happy pill. He greets me by my name for the first time in six months. I didn’t realise he even knew what I was called.

There are more changes. Kathleen is a new arrival and has taken the room of softly spoken Michael.

So quiet I didn’t notice him slip away.

Kathleen’s chatty. Recovering from a brain tumour and bleed on the brain.
Who do I need to be wary of? she whispers conspiratorily.

My reply comes in an instant: Karin. Watch any soft drinks you have. She will take them from you.

Karin’s behaviour is slowly getting worse. She’s moodier and more aggressive.

Perhaps she retains some record in her mind of the constant revision to her departure plans, and her failure to achieve them is the source of her anger.

She has a thick puffer jacket on despite the weather. As I come by she glowers at me.

You’re all dressed up, I say as I wheel past. It’s subliminal. Not ‘With no where to go.’ More: No where you’re allowed to go.

I’m going home today, she says.

Tales from the Ward Chapter 49

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Workmen

8am this morning the noise of something large being trollied down the corridor towards my room disturbs me.

I can distinguish now the sounds of the different wheeled ward vehicles normally found here: the hoist, the towel trolley, and the housekeeper’s bucket.

But this is a new one.

There’s an ominous squeal as the door opens. I’m mid bite through a slice of marmite and toast.

The workman pokes his head around the door. “Morning”, he says cheerily, as he drags a huge plastic box into the room.

“Do you like the size of my toolbox?”, he asks, ever so suggestively.

The sexual innuendo is lost on me so early in the morning. I’ve not even dried my hair.

He fiddles with the contents of the box a bit and we discuss the height of a plastic sheet holder he wants to stick on my wall.

“I’ll come back in an hour or so,” he says.

Three hours later when I’d given him up for dead he reappears. The electric drill whirs maniacally at several thousand revs a second. Then a whoosh and a thump.

“Sounds like a hollow plaster board (cheap) wall,” I say.

“Yes,” he replies impressed.

There is some more whirring. Then a “fuck”. A “sorry.” And a “cheap bloody shit”.
Another sorry. “I broke the plastic holder”.

He disappears and I’m reminded of Mr Bodgeit my old Malaysian builder, who was very lucky to escape castration after screwing up the aircon plumbing in my former KL home.

I see him later in the car park with the four other maintenance men.

A Bodgeit convention no less.

They seem deep in conversation about the white van that hasn’t moved in the four months I’ve been here.

He catches sight of me looking and they all turn around guiltily in case I have telescopic lip reading skills.

I disappear off to physio. When I return there’s a pile of plaster board dust on the floor.

The plastic sheet is up at last.

With seven extra holes drilled in the wall for extra decoration.

UnknownBodgeit lives

Tales from the Ward, Chapter 48

Bite Marks and other dramas

It’s gone two hours since neurotic Noelle swept dramatically into physio demanding extra treatment because she was having an MRI on Monday.

Loudly she announces: I think I have a brain tumour.

I snort in derision.

The idea is so preposterous I want to laugh out loud. It’s an unfortunate part of her condition. If she really was that sick she would not be here.

I can’t laugh at her, so I bite my arm hard to stop myself.

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I’m shaking in hilarity. Pilar is grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

Eventually I calm down enough to continue with my session, but I notice the teeth marks on my arm.

In perfect alignment. The result of two years in braces.

Noelle’s drama – real or – most likely – imagined is not the only one.

Quadriplegia’s back to quadriplegic status after fitting for two hours following a virtual walking marathon out of the gym and around the lobby twice last week.

Her exhausted brain shaking the night away and shutting down her body.

And then Pilar disappeared to Spain for 10 days. Family Emergency.

I figured, I told her on her return: Either someone has died, someone is sick or someone has committed a serious crime.

She smiled. My mother is unwell, she tells me.

Lunch arrives but I’m not hungry. My bite marks are still fading.

Tales from the Ward Chapter 47

May the road rise up…

 

It’s been doing that at lot lately.

Just small steps. Well not steps as such, just very short stands.

And not alone either. Hoisted aloft with the help of a frame, Djokic and Pilar.

On Friday I managed a whole 60 seconds in the gym. Mind you that felt like eternity. Look at the expression on my face.  (It’s meant to be a smile 😂)

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And last week in hydrotherapy pool (super bath temperature warm at 36°c) I stood for three long minutes ably helped by the weight of the water with Paula and Sue.

A previous physio told me once there are about 200 muscles involved in helping you stand from the big (gluteus maximus) to the small (extensor digitorum).

I’m not sure if this number is correct but I’d say with a fairly high degree of accuracy that IF 200 is the right figure 199 don’t work in me right now.

So standing is a big ask.

But if I want the road to rise up to meet my feet rather than having my face fall down to kiss the floor I need to be able to stand independently for two minutes without any help at all.

At least so I can get up to get my trousers down to use the loo.At least so I can get up to get my trousers down to use the loo.

To mangle a few metaphors – only from acorns do oak trees grow…

#onesmallstep #rightdirection #benefitsofrehab #whyidoit#reasonstobecheerful #Rehab #physio 

It costs a lot for me to stay in intensive rehab – about £10,000/$14,000 a month. I don’t have health insurance (no Insurer would cover me) and I get no help from my local health funding authority in the UK. So apart from the initial $14,650 generously donated by my friends I’m spending my life savings to stay here. 

So please keep sharing my story to boost my fund raiser  #www.youcaring.com/savestephaniescawen
 #youcaring

And you can read more Tales from the Ward by following the link to: disabled.com 

Thank you

❤ ❤ ❤

 

Tales from the Ward Chapter 46:

Sunday soccer, Match Report

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We’re a small group of football fans gathered around the tv to watch the Liverpool vs Man City game.

I’m the only Scouser (well technical only) Genuine Woolly Back coming from the south side of the Mersey. I’m on the exercise bike looking with my iPod on.

Bernard’s a City fan complete with blue and white scarf.

Michael loves soccer but is half asleep. He wakes for the kick-off but disappears for a cigarette after 20 minutes.

Liverpool are 1-0 up by then so my eyes have wandered away from the screen.

Bugger, City have just equalised.
Karin and now Morris appear drawn by the excited cries of Bernard.

I’m multi-tasking now watching the game, listening to Jill Scott and writing.

Half time and as tea is at five the crowd dwindles. Michael’s gone for another smoke and I have to shout at him to shut the bleedin’ door, as cold air is blowing in from the balcony.

He supports Arsenal anyway and they lost earlier.

It’s just me and Bernard left.

Liverpool score two in quick succession. A brief hiatus, then City’s goalie is caught off his line. 4-1. Woohoo. Come on you Reds.

A late second half wobble though and City claw it back. Oh gawd.

I fear the headlines: Liverpool throw away easy win.

But they hold on.

Bernard’s son, a Man Utd fan, is on the blower within seconds of the final whistle to rub it in.

Final score: Four-three.

Result. 🙂

Time for a cuppa and a catch up with Quadriplegia.

#LiverpoolFC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales from the Ward Chapter 45

Grand Theft Laundry

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This morning was a first for me.

Not quite a blue lights flashing nee-naw nee-naw moment, but a call to the cops to solve a heist perfected nevertheless by a well oiled criminal (washing) machine.

Seven weeks in at rehab central and a crime so dastardly had taken place right under my nose.

Who was the knicker nicker? The person loose with my lingerie and swindler of my socks? Could they be an evil team of clothing cons, adept at the lucrative second hand dress market?

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It was a snatch so fiendishly clever that even the top ranks of the local CID had to confess after a day of rigorous police investigation it was a crime they could not solve.

My losses to laundry include three vest tops, 10 pairs of knickers, one pair unique yoga pants and now a pair of quirky left-right socks (which you’d be amazed how many carers have difficulty putting on the right foot (pun intended). HTF anyone passes a driving test in this country God only knows)

The last item being the last simple gift my father bought me before he died.
So while not of great monetary value, carry a huge amount of sentimental baggage with them.

Hey, maybe I’m just expecting too much of a facility which costs me more than two grand a week. But if even a two-bit $5 a night hotel in butt-fuck south-east developing world Asia can sort my laundry you’d hope FFS these people should.

Now those of you who know me well will know how little patience I have for fuck-wits, fuckwittery and any manner of fucktardiness.

Not to mention the amount of data and rehab time I’ve used tracking down replacement items. And that just pisses me off.

In addition to staff who refuse to acknowledge their ‘system’ isn’t working. Bit like the government and the NHS.

Tales from the Ward Chapter 44

New Year’s Eve

 

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Rehab is no one’s preferred location for New Year, but you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got.

Thank God then I’d saved a bit of wine, as Noelle’s extravagant promise of free-flow champers to 25 patients, most of whom need help eating and slurping liquid of any kind, proved a non starter.

But when hubby left at four (presumably for a party with grown ups) and even the Party Queen herself was in bed by five thirty I knew it was game over for a night of debauchery or even mildly tipsy on bubbles.

Notwithstanding what alcohol might do to people’s meds. (Not that that has ever stopped me) 😂

I wheeled round to Quadriplegia, who I’d not seen for a few days, and together with fellow Quaddie Terry we plotted a midnight skinny dip in the hydrotherapy pool.

The fact that we had only one fully working limb out of the 12 available between us, a mere detail.

Stealing key fobs needed to get us there no problem. (Lets forget the fairly Herculean task of getting us all out the Ward first, then down the lift, across 25m of carpeted floor, and through three sets of doors all opening against us before even before we got to the pool)

How do we get into the water? I ask. Easy, throw ourselves in, of course. Doh, says Terry.

Oh silly me, didn’t think of that, Captain Obvious

snorkel

What about getting out?

We’ll worry about that later.

We could just let the plug out, says Quadriplegia. Now admittedly it’s been a while since I dived. But…

But it is Karin who provides our biggest laugh.

A diabetic, she narrowly avoided death after getting her insulin/sugar levels wrong. She passed out and was not breathing for some time. No one knows for sure how long, but now she has only a short term memory.

Which is why she’s always going home later or tonight or tomorrow depending on the time of day.

So you’re going home in 2018 then?

No tomorrow

Ok then next year.

No tomorrow.

We do several rounds of  this year/next year, and I know we shouldn’t but we do anyway.

I’m trying not to but we begin laughing at her confusion.

I’m struggling to hide my mirth. Quadriplegia picking up when my giggles falter.

We’re in a feedback loop of self induced hysteria.

Until my lips begin to feel numb and the rooms begins to spin. Shit I need oxygen. I can’t breathe. I’m going to pass out, I gasp. Which only makes quadriplegia shake even more.

Not. Fucking. Helping.

My eyes are screwed tight and tears stream down my face.

laughing

You two are so funny, Karin says, oblivious.

If only she knew.

I can’t take anymore and I retire hurt.

My sides ache.

 

I still need your help to fund my rehab. Please like/share/donate through you caring.com/savestephaniescawen