So this will be the last, for a while anyway in my series on my recent stay in hospital and I will be heading back to updating you on fashion, food and travel, which is what this site was all about! Now that I am back in the real world I am once again heading out to try a range of new and interesting restaurants and will be posting my reviews in coming days as all as previewing STYLEAID which is fast approaching on August 1 at Crown Perth!
The transfer to Shenton Park Rehab was quick and easy and I was soon settled into a 4 bed room to begin my next stage of recover from GBS. I was warned that Rehab would be a lot different to being in hospital and to be prepared to be doing lots of physio therapy and other associated things to get well and get me back on my feet again.
Being a neurological ward the majority of people that I met were all in because they had had strokes and were on the slow road to recovery from that. When I was admitted to Shenton Park I was still being hoisted in and out of bed as I was still not able to stand and take my own weight properly.
After an initial night of getting used to sharing a room with 3 other people and the associated noises that go with that, the following day it was get out of bed at 7 and have breakfast at 8 and then into the shower at 830 and that would be followed by physio at 9.30 for two and a half hours and then back to my room for lunch at 12 and then occupational therapy at 2, followed by a break before dinner and then medication and lights out around 8.30.
It was fairly regimented and I understood the reasoning behind wanting to get people into a solid routine and to assist in their recovery. I did have to explain a couple of times in the initial days that I was in that I had not had a stroke but had GBS and that one of the symptoms that I was dealing with was extreme fatigue that could just arrive unannounced and when that happened I needed to get back to bed to rest. A couple of the nurses who were used to the routine of having all patients sitting in wheelchairs for most of the day had to be reminded about the difference and soon things settled into a good routine for me that I got so much out of. Being able to head to bed for a rest when I needed to allowed me to re charge my batteries and get ready for what was next on offer.
The first day in physio was all about seeing what I was and was not yet capable of doing and to assist and push me to strive to do things that up to this time I was still struggling with and as I said in the last post I was not sure how I would walk again and how long it would take me to get the strength back in my legs but I was soon to be surprised.
Alycia and the Physio team at Shenton Park are a dedicated and hard working team who were always patient but firm in challenging me to challenge myself to excel and do my best with my recovery. This involved lots of stretching, exercises, challenges to try and stand with assistance and getting core strength as well as strength in my hands and legs.
The first couple of days were intense but I enjoyed every aspect of it as I was seeing results really quickly in my abilities. As it was a Thursday that I was admitted I had not yet received a weekly plan of activities, which would come on the following Monday so that first couple of days were all about getting used to physio and occupational therapy and also getting used to being at Shenton Park.
Needless to say that once again the food was very interesting and whilst it was nutritious it was just something that I could really enjoy and so ended up going to the café just about every day for some freshly prepared food and getting Trevor to bring in food for dinner nearly every night which were just wonderful. Word go out that I was struggling with the food at Shenton and soon there was a stream of home cooked food turning up regularly to keep me fed and happy. John, Beth, Aly, Karen and Annette all made this part of my stay much more enjoyable with their home cooked delights.
The weekend at rehab is all about resting and getting ready for the onslaught of the coming week and so that first weekend I took the time to rest, relax and just spend some quality time with friends and family.
Monday hit and the routine began in earnest with the most exciting thing being a chance to head to the hydro therapy pool in the afternoon for some water therapy, which was to be one of the most wonderful experiences in this journey.
But first there was physio and the first challenge of standing up and being supported by 2 physios on either side of me and one directing my legs to get me to walk and start to get used to being on my feet again. This was a revelation for me and it gave me great hope that it would only be a matter of weeks before I would be able to walk again. I had been doing some assisted standing earlier in the day but feeling my legs moving, with help was amazing and it really pushed me but I was always willing to attempt everything that was asked of me as I really wanted this to be a short stay and not a long one.
When I arrived at rehab the thinking by the team was that I would probably be there for 4 – 6 weeks before I would be ready for discharge as the goal was to be able to walk unassisted before they would consider discharging me.
After a rest it was off to occupational therapy and to start to see what things in my previous life I was able to do and what I needed to re learn or needed assistance with. This covered things like typing, transferring into a shower, cooking, getting dressed, washing dishes, hanging out washing etc…all things we take for granted but when you are not able to yet full move your arms or legs they were all challenges and Dani and Jess my OT’s were great in getting me back on track with all of them.
And the pool beckoned and as I was still in a wheelchair to get around I was taken down to the pool for my first hydro session. Being lowered into the water and feeling that ability to float and be weightless was a delight and I have to say I got quite emotional being able to control how I got around in the pool and being able to stand up at the side of the pool was just amazing. This was to be what I would be doing at least 3 times of week and each hydro session was fantastic!
I am not going to go into each and every day at rehab but just to day that I moved forward in my recovery faster than anyone thought that I would. With the assistance of the physio team and being pushed to strive to do better each day it was only 8 days til I was no longer having to be hoisted in and out of bed and was able to transfer myself into my chair and I could also shower and toilet myself which was a real joy, after 5 weeks of having a nurse wash and wipe me every time.
Then it was getting stronger on my feet and moving from three physios helping me walk to 2 and then on day 8 being given crutches to see if I could use them to walk and to my surprise and the delight of the physio team I took off and was able to walk with someone walking with me just in case I got unsteady or tired to assist me. Then there was no holding me back. I had been walking with assistance further and further each day but now I was feeling stronger and more confident and could walk back to my room and get myself in and out of bed without the need of my wheelchair all the time.
In amongst this time I also had my first outing to head out to dim sum with friends in Northbridge, which was my first time out of hospital for 6 weeks and it was a wonderful day. After lunch Trevor and I headed into Perth and looked at the shops before catching the train back to Shenton Park . One observation about this day was the way you get treated as a person in a wheel chair by the public. They seemed to fall into three categories – no interest at all, a look of pity or a look of trying to work out why you were in the wheelchair. It was a very interesting time for me.
I had oragnised that the following weekend I would have weekend leave and be able to have three nights at home and as the week leading up to the Friday moved on it became apparent that every day I was getting stronger and was walking with the crutches more confidently and with extra hydro therapy, where I was able to go down to the pool by myself in the afternoon and do more exercise in the pool that perhaps this all boded well for me for the upcoming weekend and as it was a long weekend perhaps I could have the four nights at home and not three as there would be not therapy on the Monday.
By Wednesday the physio team were so impressed by my abilities that they were suggesting that perhaps I could even be discharged on the Tuesday following the long weekend and this filled me with a real sense of excitement and thinking about what this would mean for moving forward and getting some of my independence back.
Friday morning came around and the decision was made that it would indeed be 4 nights at home and then all I had to do was come back on Tuesday morning and go through the discharge process.
I had become more confident with my crutches and we had done a home visit with the OT team to get chairs, comodes, benches for the shower and rails put in to make sure my weekend at home would be one that I could cope with and my discharge would only happen if I was able to deal with being home and all that that entailed.
Trevor and I headed home Friday afternoon and it was so overwhelming coming into my house and knowing that I would once again be sleeping in my house again..initially we had agreed with the OT team that we would sleep downstairs in one of the guest bedrooms but my physio Alycia had been getting me to walk up stairs at rehab with my crutches and whilst it was difficult I decided that I would rather have my first night at home in my own bed and so up the stairs I went with Trevor and then I was really home and I settled into my own bed for the first time in 6 weeks.
The weekend was wonderful, catching up with friends and getting stronger and more confident with my walking that by Sunday morning I did not need crutches anymore but could walk with a walking stick. Monday dawned and whilst I could not walk long distances by myself without the walking stick I could walk by myself and it was a real thrill.
Tuesday dawned and we headed back to rehab and the first thing I did was walk into physio with crutches, much to their amazement and so it was all go for discharge and after getting the all clear we headed home. We did have to come back in the afternoon as they did not have all my medications ready but that was okay…life could start returning to some semblance of normal again.
I had been given approval to do an hour of work each day in rehab and was answering emails, writing and making phone calls and when I got home that increased to 2 hours a day which allowed me to feel engaged and gave me something else to focus on other than recovery and the GBS.
After a day at home I got a call from Home Link which does the follow up physio and OT in the home to sort out times to come visit and keep my therapy going for as long as I needed it.
So after two weeks and not 4 -6 in rehab I was home and getting back to my routine. What followed was another two weeks of in home physio before it was decided that I was back to 85% back to how I was before the GBS and I had also started going back to the gym and doing some light work and some swimming. It was all about getting my regular routine back again and whilst I know that I still have a few more months before all my strength is back and that I do not get exhausted after 4 or 5 hours of activity I am now at a space that I am transitioning back to work next week with three half days and things only get better each day.
I have learnt from this experience that life is what we make of it, even when things are tough and that with the love, light, laughter, support and hugs from the people that are important in your life you can get through tough times and come out the other side a better human being. I look forward to each new day now and also what each day brings me in terms of recovery and am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who give me strength to be the best that I can!
Thankyou for coming on this journey with me and for reading my words…xxx