Chapter Twenty-Five: In Lockdown

“Good morning Lucy”, Dr Frantz walks over to my window to open my shades.

With a mane of curly red hair, Dr Frantz is a modern-day Boudicca who visits me every morning to check on my rehab progress.

“Your test results are back, and I’m afraid it’s another UTI. But this one is a hyper-resistant strain, so we’re going to have to put you into isolation”.

Oh God. Hyper-resistant. Isolation. I don’t know whether to feel like a super hero, or an inmate.

“Isolation”, I look up at her. “What does that mean?”

“Well,” she says, “You’ll still be able to go to therapy, but the therapists will have to wear gloves and wipe down where ever you sit. And anyone who comes into your room will need to wear a disposable suit, gloves, and shoe covers”.

“Ugh,” I groan, feeling disgusting. “OK”.

“And you’ll need a twice daily IV of antibiotics”.

No one can figure out why I keep getting so many bloody UTI’s, but the theory is that when I finally get rid of them my bladder might miraculously remember how to work again, which would be nice.

“Is there anything else you wanted to talk about today?” she asks.

I rack my brains. Dr Frantz comes every morning, and I figure this is hopefully the only time in my life where I have the undivided attention of a super smart doctor on a daily basis. Although I am now two weeks into this routine and running out of things to quiz her on. Yesterday I made her explain to me how the liver works.

“Well…” I say, drawing things out while I think about all of my lifelong ailments.

Aha! I pull myself onto my side. “Will you take a look at this weird mole on my back?”

When she leaves my room my nurse transfers me from my bed to the loo in a bizarre contraption called a Sara lift. The nurses all think this thing is great, I guess because it makes transferring me to and from the chair less cumbersome, but I think it’s bloody awful. It’s a sort of kneeling pad on wheels, that puts you into a forward squat while you are wheeled along. It’s actually quite impossible to explain now I come to try it, so you’ll have to Google it to see what I mean. The only other thing I have to say about Sara lifts, is, fuck ‘em.

The good news is that when I get there, I’m now pretty independent with my bathroom sessions. I am getting more and more dexterity back in my left arm, so it’s much easier for me to empty and change my own colostomy bag and I’m nailing the whole self-cathing thing.

My shoulder is gradually becoming unlocked as well, although the changes on a daily basis are so fractional I can only tell there is a difference when my bulbar therapist makes me look at pictures from the week before.

This inability to remember where I have come from seems to be a theme for me this week, and now I’m through most of the big milestones – like walking for the first time, and climbing a small flight of stairs – the improvements are so fractional it’s hard to recognise and celebrate them in the same way.

Mat makes sure he tracks my progress by constantly taking pictures and recording videos, which annoy me a little at the time but I’m sure I’ll be grateful of them in the future. Despite this, he seems to have lost a bit of interest in my therapy sessions recently and typically spends most of the them looking down at his phone. Even though I know how self-absorbed it is to feel this way, I can’t help but be upset by this. I guess I’m not as much of a novelty anymore and the fractional improvements in the mobility of my left hip are probably not as exciting to other people as I want them to be. I think being broken is a little taste of what it’s like to be a celebrity. For a while everyone is so interested in your progress, hanging off your every word and craving news of each small development, but as things start to get better the attention wanes and you’re more like a washed-up old soap actress who just isn’t as special anymore.

Mat does still love the Occupational Therapy sessions though, and why wouldn’t he? They are awesome.

Today we sit in a group around a lowered table to paint pumpkins and bake our own mini pizzas. I feel like I’m back in school as I am complimented on the beautiful fall colours I have selected for my pumpkin, and how skilled I am to have made a delicious looking pizza all by myself. It feels like a break from adulting and I revel in the simplicity of it all, wondering how I will cope with the expectations of the real world life outside of this place; of going back to work, of remembering everyones birthdays, of filing my taxes. My head spins just thinking about it.

Shortly after dinner, Mat heads home and leaves me in my wheelchair in the bathroom where I sit staring at myself in the mirror for ten minutes, struggling to recognise the bony, gaunt girl staring back at me. My neck brace has become so familiar, I can’t really remember what I looked like without it. My teeth are also different now. One of the front ones has swivelled to a more aggressive angle, and another is turning slowly yellow. I guess I must have jammed them together in the collision and severed the root or something.

Hang on a minute…. My teeth! And I’m at the sink! Does this mean I can clean my teeth here?! That I don’t have to spit into that disgusting yellow bowl any more? Can I really do something so normal?

My hand shakes in anticipation and I can feel all of the hairs on my arm stand up as I reach for my toothbrush.


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