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:
Salamat P.o (Philippines)
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.
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