29 Apr 2008

My Last Post in Putney

At last! Today is my last full day in ‘kin hospital! I will probably post this from my computer at home out of fear of last minute retribution from some of the staff here. Being clear, I don’t think any of the staff would try anything physical because I don’t plan to be that offensive and no-one would (surely) care that much about my opinion but I think I could do with clear air for the rest of the (short) time I’m in this hellhole. For the most part the staff have been great. It can’t be easy dealing with people who feel their lives have been completely destroyed. They don’t tend to be the worlds happiest people. I stick my hand up and confess to being guilty of this myself, you can probably tell! I think I’ve been guilty all along of underachieving my aspirations and not understanding how long brains take to repair and how little medical science can do to help. I think one of the first things they need to explain to you in neuro-rehab is that the chances of retaining your previous life is zero. When I first started rehab I naively assumed that by the time I left rehab that I’d be able to do all the things I used to be able to do: walk; use both hands; feel my left hand and foot; not eat like a 2 year old; read and write; keep both eyes open; stay alert; talk normally; look normal. I can’t really do any of these more than two years and thousands of taxpayers pounds down the line. It’s small wonder that I feel like a waste of space. I feel that the only positive thing that this has shown about me as a person is that I have never once contemplated suicide for two reasons 1. It wouldn’t be fair on all the people who have invested so much of their precious time (be they friends,family or healthcare workers) trying to make my rehab journey that bit less painful and 2. Straight up I just haven’t got the guts. No matter how much emotional pain my fear of the unkown would always stop me pulling the metaphorical trigger.I often ask myself why I have fallen so far short of achieving all of my goals. Like anything I have tried to apportion blame. A lot of it rests with me but some is down to the people I have worked with. To this day I still and will always maintain that to achieve anything in therapy, you have to get on with your therapists. Nowhere was this been more true than in speech therapy, I may have been lucky to have been able to learn how to talk again quickly (7 agonising weeks) but no amount of therapy has made my voice sound normal or take less effort to actually get the words out. When I was at the Frank Cooksey, I always used to love my sessions with Annabel because she and I were always laughing about something or other. Contrast this with my time at the TLU where I feel my speech has hardly changed, I reckon it’s because I can’t stand the speech therapist, Emma, at best she behaves and has the demeanor of a bossy schoolteacher , at worst that of a witch missing her hat and broomstick. It seems to my simple mind that to be a good therapist, you need to have one of three things to get results 1. A sense of humour 2. Sound like you know what you’re talking about and come to sessions prepared 3. Be good looking. Unfortunately, most of my therapists at the RHN adhered to none of these or I was unlucky and I missed out . I feel particularly short changed in speech therapy because a lot of the RHN speech therapists were gorgeous. Like I said earlier in my blog Pretty girls are a magic ingredient that make everything so much better (particularly for a man with a broken heart).

Anyway, I had hoped to have left hospital a much happier and more independent person than I am. The TLU and the RHN have done a lot to try and make me embrace the best aspects of life with serious disability as opposed to no life at all. That the most important thing in life is love, friends and friendship and that the only approach to this is to be able to laugh (especially at yourself). There is no way I could have got through the last 27 odd months without adhering too or developing these beliefs. I think the thing I miss the most is companionship (on my terms), people that I could relate too, and (very occasional) extravagance. The lack of companionship on my terms which is why I was so distraught over Tash because her visits were regular and I felt she was the only person who understood me and that I could really talk too because she had been by my bedside when I was first in intensive care. Losing her was like losing the only cheerleader that I was willing to believe about my progress. I thought my progress was pathetic, she would be impressed. I have been extremely fortunate to have this steady stream of visitors that have gone a long way to keeping my spirits up. I often don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them. Without each and every one of you I have no idea how I’d cope. There have been few people who I’ve met since my stroke who I would consider to be the type of people I’d want to spend time with. Of the Myriad other sufferers I have met, I’d only consider four people, people it has been really pleasant to spend time with and this isn’t a hell of a lot in two years which explains why I have felt so alone and isolated ( the two instigators of depression). These people are Zo, Mike and of course Carlie. I am still furious that it took the best part of two years to meet Carlie, something that I will always blame Lorna for ( Remember my horrendous and hideous OT on Drapers described elsewhere in this blog as harshly as I could imagine). When I was bemoaning the fact I had no-one to talk to because no-one in Drapers could speak her best suggestion was a middle aged Multiple Sclerosis sufferer called Diedre. Now Diedre is a lovely lady and she can certainly talk (I believe she has been at the RHN for over 20 years and has raised countless thousand pounds for the hospital by sitting in her wheelchair near reception and hassling anyone and everyone for money). She is an amazing and very nice lady but you can see why I don’t believe I have loads in common with her. Anyway, I don’t want my animosity towards Lorna to reverberate throughout this post I’m just glad that I got to finally meet Carlie, she is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, and although I have no idea what her prognosis can be I’m sure she will be at the forefront of some experimental new treatment which will help her use her body again.. I refuse to believe that if we can put a man on the moon we can’t at some stage master repairing the human body from utterly unfair injuries like hers.
So, a new chapter in my life is beginning and I would be lieing if I Said I wasn’t a little apprehensive. Well, I have survived this far, and I would attribute the last couple of years to the help I have had from friends and family and support workers I have got on with. The last two years have been the hardest of my life and I couldn’t have done it alone. This story is far from over.

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