Home didn’t feel like home. I felt like I’d walked into someone elses life. Everything looked different. Things were now done differently; new things had appeared. The furniture felt too soft, my dinner was too late (compared to hospital timings!) and far too big a portion. Where was I and more importantly where had Louise gone.
My body now ran on hospital time. 2000hrs was shift change, 2100 was evening obs, 2230 was lights out………. I kept looking at my watch, waiting for something to happen. I’d forgotten that my bed was upstairs and although I’d tackled a few stairs in hospital, I hadn’t tackled ‘my’ stairs. I felt as though I was stood at the bottom of a mountain, this huge climb in front of me. As I began climbing I had to stop halfway. I was breathless and I didn’t have the strength. I didn’t have the strength in my lungs or my legs anymore. Finally, when I reached the summit I realised it was the first time I’d been upstairs in my home for over 3 months.
In hospital, everyone had said how nice it would be to get back into my own bed. Well it wasn’t! It was too low, too soft, too…….well just not my hospital bed! I tried laying down but screamed in agony! Nothing was wrong but I hadn’t laid flat, consciously, for 3 months. Everything hurt – my insides moved around like washing in a washing machine! I tried to settle down, sitting up. It was so quiet, deathly quite. No machines beeping or call bells ringing – I expected a nurse to walk through the door at any minute. I suddenly felt so alone and so unsafe. My safety blanket of being in hospital had been ripped away. Who would help me if something happened?
I didn’t sleep well that night but I was up early as my daughter was off to school. I’d completely forgotten about my mum duties (she would tell me her survival stories in the weeks to come!) and once she’d left for school I was exhausted! I sat quietly in the house alone. All I could think about was what I’d be doing if I was still in hospital. I knew what they’d be doing each hour – routine was everything on the ward. I missed that.
After a couple of days at home, I still felt like a stranger but told myself that this was now my life and that I needed to pull myself together, I couldn’t keep living in the past. I’d been booked in with my GP practice to have my dressings changed and it was a relief to see the practice nurse. Having read my notes, she was horrified at what I’d been through. I smiled and humoured her because the reality of what had actually happened hadn’t yet hit me. She replaced my dressings and booked me in the next week. It was hoped that the wounds would be healed enough by that point for me to have a shower – a thought I was very excited about! As the days went by, I made myself do more. Bits of housework, walking around the house. Unfortunately I’d lost my job whilst in hospital so I began to think about returning to work and what I would do. But I just couldn’t shake the thoughts of being in hospital and not feeling myself. I just wasn’t the same person who had walked into the hospital months before.
One of my wounds wasn’t healing as it should have and I found myself having to return to the ward I’d left 7 days previously. It was lovely to see everyone, I was excited to be there and the staff were so happy to see me. After I’d been checked over and told that what my wound was doing was normal (I won’t go into the details!), I left the hospital. I had those same feelings of not wanting to leave. Life seemed to be boring outside the hospital. Was it because I was now ‘just another person’, no longer a patient who was cared for, no longer a patient who was ‘lucky’ and survived against the odds? I don’t know…….
2 weeks later and my first outpatient appointment with my consultant. As with most hospitals, parking is a nightmare and so my husband dropped me at the reception before parking the car. As I walked into the waiting area I suddenly felt something, but I couldn’t say what it was. It wasn’t like anything I’d felt before. My dietician asked to see me first and she took me into a small room. I was on edge and as soon as she asked how I was that was it! In between the tears I told her that I was scared of being kept in but she reassured me that I would be going home! As I sat waiting for my consultant, my feelings were a shock to me – I’d spent the last 2 weeks wishing I was back in hospital and now I was worried that they’d keep me in?!
My consultant was happy with my progress and asked to see me again in another 2 weeks. Little did I realise that what would start happening before and after that next visit, would change the course of my recovery completely.