Day by day, I marveled at the small accomplishments that I was able to achieve. I was given so much encouragement that I was always spurred on to reach new goals. I was visited by the staff from the rehabilitation centre and gradually learnt how to pull myself up to the side of the bed. Later, how to swing my legs around and with a nurse either side of me, I was gradually able to pull myself onto a wheelchair. I had eventually graduated from having a sponge bath on the bed, to being able to have a shower.
They used to lift me onto a portable chair and I would wait for Malcolm to arrive. My eyes would watch the clock, as it slowly ticked away the minutes. To me in my desperation, it seemed like hours. I use to cry with humiliation as Malcolm tenderly washed me and gave me so much encouragement and hope. Gradually I was able to hold the washer and wash myself, but I inevitably use to lose my grip on the soap and it would slip to the ground. I would be again reminded of my limitations.
Meal-times became a time when Malcolm would play aeroplanes with the spoonfuls of food, as you would a child, to try to get me to eat. I was encouraged to order just about everything on the menu, in the hope that I would be tempted. During this particular time however, the actual smell of the food made me feel physically sick. In desperation, I would ask them not to bother bringing it into the room at all, so we could eliminate this problem. I also thought that if I didn’t eat, then I wouldn’t need to visit the loo. Opening my bowels was a daunting prospect. Twice I was on the loo for 2 hours and once for 2 ¾ hours. This was usually early in the morning when they were even more short staffed. The nurses were never sure how long I was there for. By this time I was able to sit upright on my frame over the toilet. I still did not have the strength in my fingers to push the flush button on the right side of the wall. I used to judge my returning strength by seeing how easier it became to press this button. It took quite some days before I could actually flush the toilet satisfactory.
I gradually progressed to pulling myself up onto a walking frame and the first time that the physios tried to get me to stand upright and take my first step was incredible. They placed a chair about 9 metres down the corridor and with one either side supporting me, they helped me place one foot in front of the other. All I concentrated on was the chair at the other end of the corridor. It was such a long way away and I was just so tired. Gradually we made it and my reward was to sit down for about 3 minutes. They then informed me that we were now going to go back! I couldn’t believe it. It had taken so long to get there, pulling, stumbling and dragging my legs, and now I had to do it all again.
They didn’t give up on me and at the end of that session I felt so inspired and excited that I wanted to do it again. Next day was Friday and I did it again. This time I shuffled unaided. That same afternoon Malcolm took me for a ride in a wheelchair around the hospital. My first sight of the outside world for three weeks. On the way back, he asked if I wanted a coffee. I had dreamt of a cappuccino for days. He wheeled me close to the table and I could not wait to taste it. The only problem was that when I went to lift the cup from the saucer, I found that I didn’t have the strength. The cup was so heavy, that I almost cried. I was just so useless! Malcolm ended up holding it up to my mouth, but somehow my enthusiasm and desire for coffee had gone. Instead I felt humiliated and embarrassed for Malcolm, that he should be put in such a situation. I was sure everyone was watching. We came back up to the room and I was informed that I would be going over to the Rehabilitation Hospital, probably Monday or Tuesday. There seemed to be a lack of communication at RPA, as I had only just settled back into bed, when the ambulance arrived. The attendants informed me that they were downstairs and waiting to transfer me.