B L O G G E R B A R N E S

MY FRIST SESSION IN THE AQUA-PHYSIO POOL. MERMAID OR MANATEE!

After I had crawled to my  wheelchair, in Alex’s practice rooms, and successfully climbed into it, she looked as pleased as “punch”. I, on the hand, looked & felt like I just completed my first marathon. Alex said ..”there was now a long road of practice, practice,” and guess what? Yes more practice.

I remarked that I wished I could swim rather, as I have always enjoyed splashing around in water.   And that is how Bob & I learnt about a small pool about 8 meters by 15 meters in the very same hospital where my new life had started.

Bob took me there a few days later and we learnt there is a procedure, & assessments which all people, wanting to use the pool, are required to go through. You cannot just jump in (not possible for me at this point anyway) and off you go, protocol’s.

There is a physio assigned to you, who will assess your abilities such as balance, core strength, determination, and I suspect a willingness to listen!

This could be fun, I thought to myself, and after she had asked me to complete a few challenging exercises, she felt I would definitely benefit from Aqua-Physio.

My new physio’s name was Kayleigh, she looked so young and so petite, this of course worried me a little, as still being “the blob”, I did wonder how on earth she would “manage” me in to pool?

Getting into the Pool, was Scary, with Nervous Giggles from me!

The HOW, I was going to get in and out, is best seen in this picture (from Pinterest.) (which I have no idea how insert I have been trying all afternoon) so this was my effort

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But I did not wear the dress or hat! The contraption squeaked & groaned loudly, it was also awfully slow, no electronics here just human endeavour. Kayleigh’s  actually.

It was the most frightening journey I have ever made, except of course flying.

AS my toes felt the water, I started to breathe again, not long now, I thought. But it stopped with a terrible juddering, suddenly I see Kayleigh standing in front of me in the water. How nice, I thought, & then… but who is at the controls of this monstrous machine? Because I don’t see myself swan diving the rest of the way down into the pool.

So, who was at the helm, of this wretched chair? Yes, of course my dear husband, he was there in body, with his hands on the handle, but no driving license.

This may end up in tears, I thought. I held my breath expecting to be well and truly dunked into the  water, the temperature of which was unknown to me at this point.

But on this occasion Bob did exceedingly well, his expression said it all,.. “a piece of cake, my dear,” and I slowly descended the last few meters into the surprisingly warm water, oh what heaven, I wished I had brought my soap-on-a-rope! You will understand that since the 23rd of June 2017 I had not been in a bath, well I had, but that was a complete disaster, a blog left for a different time. I had many bed baths, at the beginning, and now showers.

As I was helped out of the chair, Kayleigh had to prise my fingers off the armrest, it felt other-worldly as I felt weightless, my legs began to do as I asked of them, albeit slowly and wobbly. Kayleigh had wrapped a water noodle under my arms and steered me to the side of the pool to hold on the safety rail.

So started the beginning of a 3-week (2 sessions per week) stint of learning to balance, walk, squats, and climbing out of the pool via the steps, which happened quicker than she expected and I explained, out of all the lessons I had to practise, climbing those steps was at the top of my list, because the indignity and sheer terror of THE CHAIR was all the motivation I needed.

Once Kayleigh was happy with the progress and determination I had shown, she no longer came into the water, with me, rather sitting watching from the side of the pool; and no doubt gossiping with Bob. A short time after this victory, Kayleigh was assigned to a different branch. That meant a another physio and another assessment. After that evaluation, I was given an all clear to come and go as I pleased at the pool.

What a fantastic time those 2 years were, we met the most amazing people each week at the pool, one especially comes to mind, I always called her “My Angel”, she was about 11-12 years old when we met, she is a special child born with Cerebral Palsy, in the beginning she would just stare at me through the window while waiting for her physio, but as time went on she would wave back at me, smiling. Then one day she said to me, “Hello Angel” I was so touched and incredibly pleased, especially when she blew kisses to me.

AND THEN ALONG CAME COVID-19!

Barney & Maggie

a short story of loyalty and unconditional love.

                                                              Maggie the Scotty with her brother Barney. These two little ruffians just happened into our lives. But they have been with me every step of the way. They even had a sneaked visitation to the Hospital, they sat outside the window staring in, when suddenly the penny dropped, with me calling and waving, they looked straight into my eyes,…have you have seen surprise, shock and terror on a dogs face? They turned around to Bob and Michie, and I thought they were going to make a run for it but they didn’t, nevertheless, we now have the pair of them squealing and scratching at the window in absolute delirious excitement. Lucky I was still in the isolation room so no nurse’s around. But  still, it is something that has stayed with me and, silly as it might sound, stayed with them, especially Barney as I can’t  go anywhere and I do mean ANYWHERE, without him leading the way.  Maggie is also  loyal, especially when she hears the rustle of paper or a knife on the chopping board as that is a sign of food!  I tell this little story as I am amazed how truly special these dogs are, we got them both from rescue places but different ones and about 18 months apart. Then 18 months later we moved to a much smaller house and garden…its called down-sizing. Then a year after that, almost to the day, is when I started the 18 week stay away, so yes I am impressed they remembered me.

AMAZING ALEX AND THE GANG-PLANK TO FREEDOM

So, to visualize the Amazing Alex think of young, blonde, blue/green eyes, tallish, with a ready smile and a way of encouraging you/me for the slightest new or extra movement completed!   She was also stronger than she looked. Well, she had to be…remember, I am, at this time, the blob.

Alex started by teaching my husband, Bob, the safest way (for him and me) to move me around. It was the funniest thing, especially when we started with the transfer board.

It is the gangplank to freedom, but a tad undignified, the bed is higher than the wheelchair and the whole point is to slide regally down the board and plop into the Wheelchair.

Well, that is if the board is highly polished or lacquered, sadly it was not, as it was a ridiculously small plank from the timber yard, call it rustic, so there were splinters a plenty and because of that, there was no regal entry to the Wheelchair. It was more bumpety, bumpety, bumpety, caused by Bob yanking the back of the pyjamas in an up/down movement, shouting “move along everyone” As I said earlier, laughter all the way, and the occasional scream of fear when I heard the PJ’s tear.

Going down was getting easier but going up had a different set of challenges.

Of course, the other lesson was the knee-to-knee configuration, a stunning movement in ice-skating with startling results; on dry land though, it is a totally different kettle of fish!

Later that day there’s Bob, slightly red in face, but looking pleased with himself, as he had conquered the knee-to-knee dance with me, he looked at me with a big grin and then flipping let me go! (this happen before a lesson called RECOVERING FROM THE FALL)

Bless, I think he had forgotten my legs did not work, I never got to ask him why he let me go, because he had shot out of the room and then the house to find someone to help with the big heave-ho.

So, getting back to Alex, she came three times a week to begin with and it seems now looking back, that in no time I graduated from bed work (building core muscles) to standing, balancing holding on to something, (which you would have thought this Retirement Village, we had moved to, would have handles galore BUT no, you want handles then you put them up yourselves) and then my first tentative steps with the walker.

The lesson on how to get into and out of a car was repeated quite a few times with the gang-plank and once a neighbour came to help, without us even asking, that was nice.  Who would have thought it would take 3 adults to push pull and bumpety bump one adult into a car?   The question being, why do I need to get into a car in the first place? As I had no desire to go to the shops or anywhere else, but you see Alex had a scheme, which she had not shared with me yet.

By the way, I was/am still reliving the escapades I had under pethidine, when I closed my eyes at night the same sights and sounds come flooding back, but now I can control them, which certainly gave me hope that I was not barking mad, but a madness I enjoyed with my parameter’s and my goals.

So those of you hissing “she is a control freak” well yes, I suppose I was but if I did not have control and share the control, how would I have progressed beyond the beginning?

One of my granddaughters, Michie, moved in with Bob after about the first month to 6 weeks of my being in hospital. She was a great source of love and companionship to Bob, but at that stage she was not really into cooking, so Bob did the cooking which was good because if he had been on his own, he probably would not have cooked. The mystical age of 24, why indeed should she cook.

When I came home, Michie stayed on and it was a pleasure, as every evening after she finished work she would come home but I would be in bed, (Bob use to put me away at about 4pm!)

Michie would lay on the bed beside me, telling me about her day at work, the friends she had seen that day and small bits of gossip. It was a great way to connect with another generation, to understand how they saw the world, she also wanted to know about my age group, their wants, and aspirations, so we learnt from each other.  How privileged I felt that not only did she share her time with me but shared her thoughts and aspirations.

And when she suggested I write a poem for Women’s Day celebrations for her charity, Swan Shine, I felt proud and humbled that she would think I had something to offer. But I enjoyed writing the poem and by what she told me, the young teenage ladies from Soweto enjoyed it too.

Every evening she would massage my feet and back with the CBD oil that her mother made, now that was bliss. Each morning she would help to dress me and brush my hair, I could see she was tense when doing this, but a few days later the truth did come out, my hair was falling out in clumps, it’s the medication, not to worry, but she was so upset. I started using a brilliant shampoo soon after, now my hairdresser can not believe the growth and condition now. (if you want to know the name drop me an email)

ALEX’S SCHEME IS REVEALED

Alex’s scheme was to get me to go to her practice rooms, by doing so, I had to get in and out of the car, that was good exercise and once confident enough, walk with a walking aid; but until then it was the rustic board change over! And you remember what I thought that little malarkey!

Oh, but the worse little game she wanted/needed me to play was the fall. I mean really, what was going on in her mind, but has it turned out something particularly useful.

We had started this at home and the trick is ….oops I fall, so now sit on 2 books, then move across to the step-up step, then to a foot stool and so on until I had reached my goal of getting into my wheelchair.

Sounds so quick and easy, no stress there then… and in the comfort of my home the plan came together and was executed in under 40 mins, (37 min. actually) But that was because Alex had arranged all the equipment needed in a circle, and Bob was there to do the occasional bumpety bump holding on to the back of my trousers.

But when the real fall happened 2 months later it was a different story. Isn’t it peculiar how an important lesson can dissolve into “mush”, never to be retrieved from our brains when it is needed?

So there I am on the floor, scream like a banshee for Bob, as he comes in the room those beautiful blue eyes 👀 looking terrified, “Haven’t I asked you to be careful, walk slowly, you know you have a dropped foot,”     So now the hunt was on, the books, the step-up thingy,  the footstool, the bigger footstool etc. He was rushing around collecting, discarding with a lot of muttering, like his life depended on it, which of course it did!

I never quite understood why he asked me……” What books should we use?”

Long story short, an hour and 17 mins later after laughter and tears, I was in my chair with a new determination of “never again”, and a glass of wine to steady the nerves!

So, we decided to come clean with Alex and tell her what miserable failures we were, and we could almost see her mind going, aha, but she said right away “I have a good exercise today for you, now easy-peasy slide out of the chair on to the floor, turn on to your stomach.”  What, no this is not right, I thought.

Alex moved my chair to the other end of the room; the small room thank goodness. “Now as quick as you like leopard crawl to the chair” she said but with her eyes twinkling.

I did it! Although not quickly, the floor was ridiculously hard to sensitive nerve endings, but I DID IT!

How did it Start?

Lying in my very uncomfortable hospital bed, ( a nurse told me it was a broken spring) it did occur to me that most things happen for a reason, but for the life of me I couldn’t think what that might be, yet.

An operation had been needed on 3 vertebra in the lumber region of the spine, which by all accounts had gone wrong. It was now 8 ops later, plus 6 MRI’s, a stint on life-support for 3 weeks, gangrene and lets not forgot the super-bug, but I am still alive and thank goodness the brain still working.

It must have been around the tenth week, when that I had that thought, of things happening for a reason, because up until then, I was floating in and out of consciousness. High on pethidine, so I was “meeting” long gone relatives, going to exotic islands, planning my escape from this place, which sometimes was a prison and sometimes a home for the mentally challenged, which at that point I probably was! We all have those moments….don’t we?

One of the best “strange event’s” was when the Nurses Station turned into a Night Club or meeting place, lights, music, people….and yet a few moments later it was the nurses station again. Oh yes and then there was that strange black tent in the middle of a field, it was shaped like a Teepee tent. So let’s be honest, we have all had those fleeting visions of a different “world”. Be it one too many headache pills, one too many drinks or your first splif. I have lived for 75 years, so shocked I am not. Most of the time, I think I was enjoying every moment. But not so for my family.

My poor family, after weeks of visiting an inert person, they now had to listen to my whispering demands that they should get the police to break me out of “here”, that I had devised an escape route. Insisting that the bed would easily roll down the stairs, through the doors to the sea. Which, at that time I was positive it was the Irish Sea, even though I am actually 700 kilometre’s from the nearest ocean and a single storey hospital! Anyway, enough of that, the 10 weeks turned into 18 weeks, and only then did I come home, even though the Doctor’s were reluctant but I am pretty sure the Nurses and Carers rejoiced.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I could no longer do anything for myself, I could not walk or comb my hair, which was falling out by the handful, because 10 weeks of anti-biotics’ are not good for the hair. I was a large blob propped up in bed with about six pillows and a pyramid thing at the bottom of the bed. Well, this will not do I really have to organise myself, so that is how I met the Amazing Alex, she was the only physio who would do home visits.

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