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 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

 

Tales From the Ward Chapter 43:

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A Christmas Carol

As Christmas approaches I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep my mouth shut. I’ve bitten my tongue so much in the last few days listening to Noelle’s constant drivel I’m one bite away from self-inflicted mutism.

Which is something Noelle seems incapable of. The collective weight of her issues threaten the entire fabric of the world wide web. Chief nurse Chloe’s inbox is filled with at least 30 emails daily.

Why don’t you assign her email address to junk status, I suggest. Already done.

The shrink wants me to channel my thoughts, so I pen a short rewrite of a festive favourite.

The Twelve Complaints of Noelle

 

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On the first day Christmas Noelle threatens me: You’ll never hear the end of me

On the second day of Christmas my patient begged of me: two hours o’rest, or you’ll never hear the end of me.

On the third day of Christmas my patient spat at me: three bad meals, two hours o’rest or you’ll never hear the end of me.

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On the fourth day of Christmas my patient gave to me: four acid looks, three bad meals, two hours o’rest and you’ll never hear the end of me.

On the fifth day of Christmas my patient awarded me five Gold stars, four acid looks, three bad meals, two hours o’rest and you’ll never hear the end of me.

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On the sixth day of Christmas my patient sent to me: six insulting emails

On the seventh day of Christmas my patient howled at me: seven minute moans

On the eighth day of Christmas my patient bawled to me: eight floods of tears

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On the ninth day of Christmas my patient raged at me: nine daily meltdowns

On the tenth day of Christmas my patient sang to me: ten tuneless carols

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On the eleventh day of Christmas my patient wailed at me: eleven workout whinges

On the twelfth day of Christmas my patient gave to me: twelve hour long tantrums, eleven workout whinges, ten tuneless carols, nine daily meltdowns, eight floods of tears, seven minute moans, six insulting emails, five Gold Stars, four acid looks, three bad meals, two hours o’rest or you’ll never hear the end of me

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Happy Christmas everyone and wishing you all a fantastic and better 2018

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I still need your help to raise the rest of my target to fund my stay in rehab. Please take a look at youcaring.com/savestephaniescawen and help spread the word.

We’re stuck at $14,400. The same again would be fantastic. Rehab is working, a little bit further every day. Thank you ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

Tales from the Ward Chapter 42:

The Great Christmas Cake Off

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Today as part of Occupational Therapy we’re team making mince pies. Giovanni used to be a chef in Italy. Well, he used to cook pizzas, someone says.

That’s enough to make him our de-facto master chef. And I suggest we call him Gordon.
Yes you can, he replies, in his strongest Italian accent. But you better do what I fucking say.

He’s giggling as the nurses say: no cooking if there’s swearing.

But there’s not much real baking anyway. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith would be horrified. Shop bought pastry and jars of mincemeat?

scaredsanta

 

It’s a sacrilege of Santa.

Quadriplegia’s rolling out the pastry while I’m greasing the pastry tins.

Someone doesn’t like mincemeat and wants stewed apple filling.

Then there’s a request for jam from Bernard, whose blood sugar levels are rising despite the best attempts of his wife to keep his diabetes under còntrol.

The only one who’s lost control is me. I can’t speak and can barely breathe I’m laughing so much. Tears are rolling down my face.

Shouldn’t we be blind baking, I suggest, trawling up some long forgotten baking rule from school years.

No, rules our head chef. So I begin to fill our pies with mincemeat.

Are these deep filled then? I try again. This pastry making is serious business. I’d never even heard of the concept until I saw it mentioned in a Christmas tv ad a few days ago.

I don’t know what that means, says Giovanni. The idea or my sentence, I ask?  Oh never mind.

My next challenge: how to glaze the tops with an egg wash when I’ve already liberally sprinkled them with cinnamon powder.

 

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I still need funds to continue my rehab. Please share my story. You can find out more by taking a look at youcaring.com/savestephaniescawen. Thank you.
Merry Christmas to all those celebrating and Happy Holidays. Wishing you all a fabulous and better 2018

❤ ❤ ❤

More Tales from the Ward…

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New challenges, old problems, familiar faces

Chapter 35: The return

Three and a half months after being kicked out of rehab I’ve arrived back in the clink.

This one though is a specialist Neuro centre, where positive reinforcement helps even the most afflicted.

Stroke victims, people with brain injury and others with yet to be diagnosed odd things.
I’m reunited with quadriplegia who’s been taking her first tentative steps.

As we meet I eye the can of Pepsi she’s drinking and able to hold by hand.
My first words: You can cut that shit out.

Good to see you too sweetheart, comes the reply.

It’s good to see her up right and able to move rather than flat on her back feeling nothing.

The rehab centre not only makes sure she gets out of bed, she’s been allowed out the building to a rock concert and even a few bars. Not that they’re encouraging her to drink, she doesn’t.

It’s cold now and dark early. Sun’s up gone seven and down just after four. Winter is upon us, and up north there is snow and frost. Actually everything’s been cold since ambient average temperatures dropped below 25 degrees as far as I’m concerned.

It genuinely is freezing and I’m wearing leg warmers for the first time in 30-odd years.

Facebook is trending the best Xmas ad and it’s not even December.

The food looks similar to the other hospital, though there’s a supermarket across the road just in case.

There are four branches of wards all leading off from the central reception. It’s not quite Prisoner Cell Block H. But I can’t help thinking Open Prison and doors to the outside are in fact locked. Actually I can’t even get out of my wing. My unit is secure.

I’m in the complex care section and my room is on the quiet side.
I can still hear Mitchell shouting from the other.

 Chapter 36: The United Nations of nursing

Good job I’m not a racist or Brexiteer. Don’t think I’d be able to cope.
One week here and so far I’ve met:
From Africa: 1 Nigerian 2 Ghanians 1 South African 1 Cameroonian 1 Moroccan 1 Mauritian
From Europe: 2 Poles 2 Romanians 2 Lithuanians 1 Latvian 2 Greek 2 Spaniards
From Asia: numerous Filipina
The Brits are most definitely in the minority here.

I am of course aiming to be fluent in several other languages by the time I leave 😊
Mastering the basics of course is just the start.
So in no particular order and spelling definitely incorrect:
Thank you
Achòo (Lithuania)
Mee dasi(Ghana)
Salamat P.o (Philippines)
Nkosi (Xhosa)
Ashima (Nigerian)

Polish I have no idea but I’m sure there will be a combination of consonants including a Z.

My daily ritual up at 7 breakfast at 8.30 the first of two physio sessions.
In the morning it begins with stretching and then improving muscle strength. There is no CAN’T only TRY. The attitude of the staff is only to give positive reinforcement not chastise when a patient says something negative.

It’s polar opposite to how I’m perceived in the state health system.

Yesterday I watched as a stroke patient refused to work any more because his leg hurt. Was it really hurt or just tired? Even the patient wasnt sure. They listened and distracted him sufficiently to then suggest he work again which he did without complaint.
The attention is constant and detailed.

Therapy is not just physical but also psychological.

I find threatening the physio with violence motivational, but generally just met with laughter.

Later in the day I have occupational therapy to strengthen my arm and work on the fingers of my left hand. My index finger is mostly curled making pen holding almost impossible.

We spend about 20 minutes on this finger alone aiming to stretch it to its full length and extent my entire palm. It’s tough and I wonder if it’s worth it but the following morning my hand and fingers are straighter.
Now to repeat several times a day every day.

Chapter 37: New characters old problems

Noelle had tried to commit suicide by gassing herself.

The build up of carbon monoxide in her blood failed to kill her thankfully but left her partially paraplegic. She can stand, lucky her, with encouragement, but is full of anxieties.

A perceived sleight when things don’t go quite to plan often results in a childlike meltdown and tears.

Reassurance is needed. Often.

Her husband has taken her credit card. Liberal spending on Amazon was becoming expensive.
But she gets it.

Steph’ s ok she declares. (Phew) She’s one of the few non crazies here.

Top of the driving every one else crazy is Mitchell. Constantly pleading: let me out of here!
But to look at him it’s hard to know if this is a request to escape the ward or escape the body he’s now trapped in.

His speech is slurred I guess from a stroke and it’s quite hard to understand him. He seems acutely frustrated. Why is he now in a wheelchair and not able to communicate well?

Perhaps, in true British style when addressing foreigners, he’s thinking: If I say it loud enough long enough people will understand me.
Why do they just tell me to shut up?

At lunch he takes a few mouthfuls, claims he’s no longer hungry and wants to return to his room. In the next moment demands he wants to eat again.

Cliff is not allowed seconds. He’s very over weight with a 9-month belly and has been told he must lose the excess kilos. He is another of Carol’s husbands who responds to ‘how are you?’ With ‘same shit different day’.

I know that feeling. He’s also in a chair, the result of a stroke brought on after watching a football match. He can’t remember who was playing or who won.

Chapter 38: Physio

I’m sure Djokic is happy the bean bags I’m throwing at him are soft and not made of brick.
He seems amused by the fact I’m aiming for his head.

Is he really just a sadist masquerading as an Occupational Therapist or just someone who enjoys the challenge of trying to piss me off.
Oh wait, isn’t that the same thing?

He grows quiet when I mockingly suggest he has a darker past. Is that because he does, or that maybe he doesn’t share my sense of humour? Maybe it really isn’t funny? Jokes don’t translate well, I find.

Anyway, I’m throwing the damn things as far as I can – and that’s with my good arm.
I’ve never had the speed of a baseball pitcher and the bags are barely aerodynamic so there’s a cat in hell’s chance of me making contact.

Plus he artfully steps out the way and out of range of the soft touch slow-moving missile.
The smirk on his face as I screw mine up in frustration just makes things worse.

After this there’s the bending forward in my chair to see how far I go before I face plant exercise.
I swallow my desire to call him an utter bastard because I know that will only make him laugh.

Then we do the same thing going backwards. I’m meant to pull myself forward using my stomach muscles. His response to my protests of: ‘I’m not a frickin limbo dancer’ as my spine bends back almost at 90 degrees are simple: Go on you can do it.

Not. Effing. Helping.

You can help me by donating and sharing my story. Please go to: #youcaring.com/savestephaniescawen

 

Tales from the Ward Chapter 34:

Confessions

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

I’m no Catholic, but when you’re lying on your bed, with a guy trying to place your knee to your chest, and you’re unable to think of a single swear word, let alone say one, you know you’re in trouble.

And as anyone who knows me can confirm: I can make a sailor blush, so it must be bad 🙂

Yesterday I spent a stupid amount of money for what can only be described as an hour of cruel and unusual punishment.  Sixty minutes of virtually unrelenting pain as my otherwise wonderful physio contorted my limbs into positions they really did not want to go.

Torture, in case you’re wondering, is defined as an act of inflicting excruciating pain. I think come visit me on a Saturday afternoon and see it inflicted on someone who’s actually paying for it.

And trust me, when I tell you I ain’t got no BDSM fetish.

When I was a gym bunny the only point of exercise, I used to say, was to do the stretching after. Teasing out the muscle fibres and detaching them from themselves and all of the connective tissue in between.

Stretching’s more important now as my muscles get quite tense and inflexible. And I need their ability to expand and release if I’m to regain my ability to stand.

At this moment poking my eyes out with sharp sticks would be a more preferable form of pain management than forcing my bent legs straight.

A good analogy would be thinking of an envelope that’s been sealed with a super-glue that’s gone cold and become inflexible, and then trying to open it without tearing or ripping.

The fibres of my muscles are the envelope’s edges tightly sealed. And they sting when touched, even lightly.

Each stretch results in a minuscule tear separating the fibres from the glue. It’s been over six months since any physio-terrorist did this.

I’m trying not to scream, but tears are streaming down my face and I’m struggling for breath. If this was real torture I would have passed out some minutes ago.

The conversation goes a bit like this:

Ok, bit further, bit further, argh *&@##!!

A sailor blushes.

Sound of deep breaths

Again

And repeat.

Several times.

Until finally: No stop, I can’t take it anymore. I’ll sign anything. Give me a pen, I did it, It’s my fault. I confess.

Very well. Your signature here please and that will be £80.

Same time next week? 🙂

youcaring.com/savestephaniescawen