Chapter Eighteen: Enough Lessons for a While

*Beep*

I awake the next morning to the familiarity of the sun spilling it’s light into a green and white hospital room.

Habitually, I grope around my pelvis to rest my hand in it’s familiar spot on my fixator, but my hand meets my skin instead of metal and I jerk it away in shock.

“What the?!”

I grope the site some more, exploring the exact location where the metal used to skewer me, and find only tiny holes closed with a single stitch. More magic.  

When the reality that my pelvic drawer handle has finally gone settles in, a tentative smile creeps across my face. I lift my left leg upwards, lightly hook it over the right ankle and allow the cross to slowly spread up my legs until it reaches my knees. My entire body tingles in the familiar relief of crossed legs, the forgotten sensation I had been craving every day for the last two months.   

“Ermf”, I grab hold of the bar at the side of my bed with my good hand and heave myself slowly onto my side, staring at the wall in disbelief. The wall. Not the ceiling. A new position, a new view of the world.

I allow myself another few seconds here before surrendering to the effort and let go of the bars, rolling instantly back to corpse position where I pant like an overheated dog. 

‘I’ll let myself recover for a bit, then I’ll do that again’ I promise myself, tantalized.

I count down the seconds and stare at the ceiling, eyes wide in anticipation. To pass the time, I hone in on the intense throbbing pain in my left arm, which has been put back into a splint, wondering when it will subside. Never mind, I tell myself, as soon as the swelling goes down the pain will go with it, and then everything will be better. 

It’s funny how many times I’ve told myself that over the last couple of months; ‘when I get out of ICU, everything will be better’, ‘when I get home, everything will be better’, ‘when I have my fixator out, everything will be better’. I suppose there is a lesson in there somewhere. 

Mum and Mat join me just after breakfast, sharing my fascination with the tiny holes left behind by the massive metal contraption. 

“It’s like it was never there!” Mat smiles at me in disbelief.

A kind-faced lady with wild greying hair walks into my room. 

“Hello Lucy, I’m Vicky your case manager”. 

We great her with a smile. 

“Everything seems to have gone well, but the doctors want to keep you in for a few days so you can be assessed for physical therapy”. She says. 

“We were told that Lucy may be able to go to the rehab centre as an inpatient”, Mum says. 

“Vallejo?” 

We all nod, having been told a lot about this place; about how well-rated it is; about the intense three hours a day of therapy; about the access you get to specialised rehabilitation doctors. I want to get in there more than anything. 

“We’ll see” Vicky says, “It’s a state-of-the-art facility, but it’s difficult to get in there. Very competitive” she says. 

She senses us deflate and shrugs her shoulders.

“That being said, your other issues”, she looks me up and down, “the catheter and colostomy, plus all of the nerve damage on your left side. These things will all help us make the case”. 

Over the next two days, I am seen multiple times by a physical therapist. She assesses me, asks me to move things and rate my pain out of ten, frets over the lack of function and strength in my left leg and the lack of mobility in my wrist and shoulder, which both seem to be almost completely locked. She asks me silly questions – ‘How committed are you to getting better?’ ‘Do you think you could cope with three hours of therapy a day?’ ‘What are your goals?’

I’m still not used to this complete lack of control; of having no influence over the huge decisions being made about my life and well being, and of not knowing when or how I will receive this news. All I can do in these scenarios is wait and hope for the best I suppose. It feels like another bloody lesson; a lesson  in trying to stay in the moment, in rolling with the punches and remaining flexible and open. But it’s a difficult lesson to swallow when you are so accustomed to being independent, to making your own decisions and controlling the direction of your life so meticulously. I meditate on the lesson, pretend to be grateful for it, and make a silent wish to have a break from lessons for a while. 

On the evening of the second day we get another visit from Vicky.

“Your case has been accepted by Valejo!” 

She seems genuinely thrilled to be able to give us this news, and we are thrilled to receive it. 

“You’ll be transferred there in the morning”. 

Mat gives me a high five and I celebrate with a thirty-second holiday on my left side, my right hand clinging to the bar on the side of my bed until my whole arm shakes and I am forced to let go. Rolling back to corpse position, I feel momentarily refreshed and revitalised. I might even treat myself to a CranRaspberry juice with my grassfed meatloaf tonight. I know how to live.


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